Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Cup of Russia - Gallina Blanca, St. Petersburg, Day One

The Cup of Russia Gallina Blanca opened in St. Petersburg on Friday, November 23 with the Compulsory Dance and the Short Programs for Ladies, Men and Pairs. The Cup of Russia is the fifth of six international qualifying events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series.

Ice Dancing, Compulsory Dance

The Compulsory Dance selected for the Cup of Russia is the Ravensburg Waltz. World Champions Barbara Fusar-Poli/Maurizio Margaglio of Italy took an early lead with Galit Chait/Sergei Sakhnovski (ISR) coming in second place and Ukraine's Elena Grushina/Ruslan Goncharov finishing third.

Fusar-Poli/Margaglio showed good speed in their smooth Waltz, taking all first place ordinals from the Judges. "It felt very good, much better than the Quickstep in our first Grand Prix in Germany", Fusar-Poli said. "I was very calm, it felt like in practice. The crowd was very nice and welcomed us like the Russian skaters. The ice quality here is very good, it's fast ice, not too hard and not too soft."

Chait/Sakhnovski also produced a good Compulsory Dance. They had already skated the Ravensburg Waltz in their first Grand Prix event at Skate America. "We wanted to do everything better than at Skate America", Sakhnovski commented. "We wanted to improve our technique, and that's what we've been working on. However, we still feel the jet lag." The couple had arrived in Russia coming from the USA on Wednesday. Grushina/Goncharov also turned in a fine Waltz, skating with good expression and soft knees. The husband-and-wife team is competing in their first Grand Prix event this season. "It was ok. This dance is so short, it's over so quickly, you don't even have time to look around yourself", Grushina laughed. "We are also well prepared for the OD and free dance", Goncharov added.

Russia's Tatiana Navka/Roman Kostomarov are standing in fourth place and their teammates, the World Junior Champions, Natalia Romaniuta/Daniil Barantsev, are currently in fifth.

Ladies, Short Program

World silver medallist Irina Slutskaya (RUS) took the lead in the Short Program, ahead of Angela Nikodinov of the USA and Russia's Elena Sokolova.

Slutskaya opened her routine to a serenade by Franz Schubert with a solid triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a high double Axel, but then she unexpectedly fell on her triple flip. The performance also included good spirals and excellent spins and she earned marks up to 5.9 for presentation. "Well, better it happens now than later", Slutskaya said about her mistake. "Maybe it's not so bad that I'm making my mistakes now. Tomorrow I'll show what I can do."

Skating last, Nikodinov delivered a clean program that contained a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip and a beautiful layback spin; only the double Axel was a little scratchy. Nikodinov's marks ranged from 5.2 to 5.6 for required elements and from 5.3 to 5.7 for presentation. "I had mixed emotions", the Californian explained. "I felt really confident, calm, I thought of Elena (Tcherkasskaya, her coach who passed away on November 12, last). I wanted to go out there and be strong. I struggled with the Axel, but it was clean, no touch down."

Sokolova turned in an inspired Short Program to "Bacchanale" from Samson and Delilah that included a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple loop. "I was very focused today. It was very important for me to skate clean, because I didn't do too well in my previous competitions", she commented.

Russia's Viktoria Voltchkova is sitting in fourth place as she missed the triple flip, her solo jump. "Tomorrow I'll do better", she promised.

Pairs, Short Program

The Pairs event brought a few surprises. 2000 World Champions Maria Petrova/Alexei Tikhonov (RUS) clearly won the Short Program, ahead of French Champions Sarah Abitbol/Stephane Bernadis, while World silver medallists, Elena Berezhnaya/Anton Sikharulidze, of Russia finished third after making two mistakes.

Petrova/ Tikhonov had to skate first and set the standard with a flawless program that featured side by side triple toeloops, a triple throw Salchow and a nice lift. "It was hard to skate first, we don't like to skate first. You want to rest a bit after the warm up", Tikhonov explained. "I'm happy that we pulled ourselves together. It was a strong program, maybe we could have skated a little bit faster." The team from St. Petersburg got 5.6s and 5.7s for required elements and for presentation. They had eight first-place ordinals, but one Judge put them in third.

Abitbol/Bernadis entertained the crowd with their Can Can, but their side by side spin was out of sync and she touched down with her hand on the triple throw loop. The marks for the French ranged from 5.2 to 5.5 for required elements and from 5.5 to 5.8 for presentation.

Skating last, Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze delivered a sub-par performance. She fell right away on the opening side by side triple toeloop and shortly afterwards on the triple throw loop. The couple's marks reached only 5,3 for required elements but went up to 5,9 for presentation. "Elena told me that she felt ready and that she doesn't know what happened", coach Tamara Moskvina said.

Sitting in fourth place are Poland's Dorota Zagorska/Mariusz Siudek who completed side by side triple toeloops, a high double twist and a difficult lift in their Swing program. Another Russian team, Julia Obertas/Alexei Sokolov, also put in a strong performance and finished fifth.

Men, Short Program

World Champion Evgeni Plushenko of Russia finished first in the Short Program, while Bulgaria's Ivan Dinev stands in second place and Matthew Savoie (USA) in third.

Plushenko put in a strong performance. The skater from St. Petersburg pulled off a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop right out of the gate, followed by a triple Axel, a triple Lutz and amazing footwork. This performance earned him all 5,8s and 5,9s for both required elements and presentation. He was still handicapped by pain in his groin, but he didn't let it show. "Now the groin hurts on both sides", he said. "I trained today without painkillers, and the pain was very bad. I needed medication for the competition. The program was ok, it could have been better."

Dinev turned out on his triple toeloop after the triple Axel in the combination, but his tango program featured a good triple flip out of steps and decent footwork. His marks ranged from 4.6 to 5,1 for required elements and from 5.2 to 5.4 for presentation. "I have problems with my boots", Dinev explained. "That's why I made the mistake. One of my boots broke, and now I have to use old ones."

Savoie barely held on to his triple Axel and then needed an extra step in his triple flip-double toeloop combination, but he completed a triple Lutz and excellent spins. Savoie, who was the bronze medallist last year at the Cup of Russia, received marks from 4.9 to 5.4 for required elements and from 5.0 to 5.7 for presentation.

Romania's Gheorghe Chiper came in fourth place. The Judges were divided on the skaters ranked two to four.

The Cup of Russia continues on Saturday with the Original Dance, and the Ladies, Men and Pairs Free Programs. Results are attached and are also directly available from the ISU Internet site on ww2.isu.org

Results

Ice Dancing 

FP1						Nat.	CD	OD	FD

1	Barbara Fusar-Poli / Maurizio Margaglio ITA	1		
2	Galit Chait / Sergei Sakhnovsky 	ISR	2		
3	Elena Grushina / Ruslan Goncharov 	UKR	3		
4	Tatiana Navka / Roman Kostomarov 	RUS	4		
5	Natalia Romaniuta / Daniil Barantsev 	RUS	5		
6	Magali Sauri / Michael Stifunin 	FRA	6		
7	Agata Blazowska / Marcin Kozubek 	POL	7		
8	Stephanie Rauer / Thomas Rauer 		GER	8		
9	Katarina Kovalova / David Szurman 	CZE	9		
10	Josce Piche / Pascal Denis 		CAN	10		
11	Ekaterina Gvozdkova / Timur Alaskhanov 	RUS	11		
12	Jessika Huot / Yuha Valkama 		FIN	12		


Ladies

FP1				Name	Nat.	SP	FP

1	Irina Slutskaya 	RUS	1	
2	Angela Nikodinov 	USA	2	
3	Elena Sokolova 		RUS	3	
4	Viktoria Volchkova 	RUS	4	
5	Elena Liashenko 	UKR	5	
6	Jennifer Robinson 	CAN	6	
7	Galina Manyachenko 	UKR	7	
8	Tamara Dorofeev 	HUN	8	
9	Zoya Douchine 		GER	9	
10	Kanako Takahashi 	JPN	10	


Pairs

FP1	Name					Nat.	SP	FP

1	Maria Petrova / Alexei Tikhonov 	RUS	1	
2	Sarah Abitbol / Stephane Bernadis 	FRA	2	
3	Elena Berezhnaya / Anton Sikharulidze 	RUS	3	
4	Dorota Zagorska / Mariusz Siudek 	POL	4	
5	Yulia Obertas / Alexei Sokolov 		RUS	5	
6	Viktoria Maksiuta / Vitali Dubina 	UKR	6	
7	Valerie Marcoux / Bruno Marcotte 	CAN	7	
8	Katerina Berankova / Otto Dlabola 	CZE	8	
9	Mariana Kautz / Norman Jeshke 		GER	9	
10	Laura Handy / Jonathan Hunt 		USA	10	


Men

FP1				Nat.	SP	FP

1	Evgeni Plushenko 	RUS	1	
2	Ivan Dinev 		BUL	2	
3	Matthew Savoie 		USA	3	
4	Gheorghe Chiper 	ROM	4	
5	Roman Serov 		RUS	5	
6	Yosuke Takeuchi 	JPN	6	
7	Stefan Lindemann 	GER	7	
8	Ilya Klimkin 		RUS	8	
9	Vitalyi Danilchenko 	UKR	9	
10	Markus Leminen 		FIN	10	
11	Vincent Restencourt 	FRA	11	


For further information please contact:

Aline Bussat Ingwersen, 
ISU Media Coordinator 

Tel: +41 21 612 66 66   
Fax: +41 21 612 66 77
E-mail: bussat@isu.ch	

or

Gallina BlancaIlia Bronskij, 
Cup of Russia Press Officer 

Tel: +7 812 303 96 35  
E-mail: bronskij@yahoo.com  

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