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

The Cup of Russia Gallina Blanca continued in St. Petersburg on Saturday, November 24 with the Ladies', Men and Pairs Free Programs and with the Original Dance. The Cup of Russia is the fifth of six events of the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating.

Ladies, Free Program

Russia's Irina Slutskaya won her fourth title in St. Petersburg with teammate Viktoria Volchkova capturing the silver medal and Angela Nikodinov (USA) taking the bronze.

Skating first in the last flight, Slutskaya opened her powerful "Tosca" program with a high triple Lutz. She went on to complete a triple Salchow-double loop combination (with an extra turn on the ice in between the jumps), but she made a mistake on the second Lutz (with a double toeloop). The four-time European Champion doubled the flip in her first attempt and stepped out of the triple loop. However, Slutskaya rallied back to repeat the flip successfully and went on to land a triple toeloop right at the end of her performance. The program also featured her trademark spins. The Judges awarded her marks ranging from 5.5 to 5.7 for technical merit and from 5.7 to 5.9 for presentation, which meant first place ordinals across the board. "I think this competition was ok for me", the Muscovite said. "It was not really good or really bad. I'm doing good stuff in my practices and I hope I will skate better in my next competitions."

Volchkova, standing in fourth after the Short Program, skated last and knew that she had a chance to medal. The reigning European bronze medallist went for a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination right at the beginning of her "Gone with the Wind" program, but the second jump was slightly two-footed. Volchkova held the performance together and completed three more triple jumps. She also repeated a doubled flip. Overall her spins and presentation have improved further. With marks up to 5.7 for both technical merit and presentation, she moved up to claim the silver medal. "Too bad, that this isn't a scoring event for me", the Muscovite regretted. Well, I'm happy that I'm second and that I skated well today. I went for my triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination. I know that this isn't the most difficult combination, and I want to learn another triple-triple."

Angela Nikodinov, who was the runner-up in the Short Program, started off well with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple toeloop and a double Axel, but then she put her hand down on the triple flip and popped the second Lutz. Her program, "Giselle", also contained a triple loop and nice spins. Nikodinov lost the silver, but won the bronze. "I didn't feel as strong as yesterday", the American said. "It was a big step from my competition in Germany. Hopefully I will peak by the time of (USA) Nationals and qualify for the Olympic team."

Elena Sokolova (RUS), who stood in third after the Short Program, dropped to fourth as she only did a double Lutz.

The Cup of Russia was a scoring event for Slutskaya and Nikodinov. Slutskaya took 12 points and now has 21 overall, which qualifies her for the Final. Nikodinov collected 14 points in her two competitions and will have to wait and see if this will be enough to make the Final. She is currently stands in fifth place the Grand Prix standings.

Pairs, Free Program

In an exciting Pairs event, Elena Berezhnaya/Anton Sikharulidze (RUS) came back from a faulty Short Program to win the competition. Their teammates Maria Petrova/Alexei Tikhonov took the silver medal, while France's Sarah Abitbol/Stephane Bernadis settled for the bronze.

Petrova/Tikhonov skated first in the last warm up group. The 2000 World Champions put in a strong performance that featured side by side triple toeloops, a triple twist, a high triple throw Salchow and original lifts. However, Tikhonov stepped out of the landing of the second side by side double Axel and the spin was out of sync at the end. The team received marks up to 5.7 for technical merit and up to 5.8 for presentation to finish second in the Free Skating and overall. "We skated well, but I made a mistake on the second Axel. It was a bit hard for us in the middle of the program, but we pushed through to the end", Tikhonov explained.

Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze were up next. The two-time World Champions stood in third place after the Short Program, as Berezhnaya had fallen twice. Now they were determined to redeem themselves. Their Charlie Chaplin program took off from the first second onwards, and they never let go. The team hit the side by side triple toeloops, the side by side double Axel-double toeloop sequence, the triple throw Salchow and loop, only the triple twist was shaky. This spectacular performance earned them marks from 5.8 to 5.9 for technical merit and from 5.8 to one 6.0 for presentation. "Once more I believed deeply in my partner's strength", an emotional Sikharulidze said. "Anton believed in me today, and I believed in myself", Berezhnaya added. "It was difficult to believe in myself after what had happened yesterday, it was difficult to show a beautiful program. We are very glad about our performance."

Abitbol/Bernadis continued on a high level. Skating to "The Addams Family", the European bronze medallists turned in a good performance that included side by side triple toeloops and double Axels as well as a triple twist, good lifts, a double throw Axel and a triple throw loop. "It was our third competition, and we were tight", Bernadis commented. "We put in everything we had, everything from body and hearts. We didn't see the others skating, but I think they did very well also, and therefore we are happy with our placement."

The Polish team of Dorota Zagorska/Mariusz Siudek stayed in fourth place as Zagorska missed the side by side triple toeloop and singled the Axel.

The three top couples all skated for points in St. Petersburg. Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze took another 12 after their victory in Paris last week and are now qualified for the Final with the maximum of 24 points. Petrova/ Tikhonov got 9 and will skate to score again next week at the NHK Trophy in Japan. Abitbol/Bernadis have 14 points from their two events.

Men, Free Program

Overnight leader Evgeni Plushenko (RUS) successfully defended his Cup of Russia title. The other standings shuffled as Roman Serov of Russia surged from fifth place to take the silver and Bulgaria's Ivan Dinev dropped to third.

Plushenko decided to risk a new element, the quadruple Lutz. The World Champion almost landed the jump, but then fell and also went down on his quadruple toeloop. The 19-year-old recovered to land a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination (but he put a hand down on the toeloop) and five more triples including a triple flip-triple toeloop combination. The entertaining performance to various soundtracks also contained strong footwork. Plushenko's marks went up to 5.8 for technical merit and up to 5.9 for presentation. "I'm glad that I tried the quad Lutz. I landed a clean one just three days ago in practice for the first time and decided to go for it", Plushenko told the press. "I think I'll do it soon in competition." Serov put in a strong performance as well, nailing a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination and seven more triples. The Muscovite only fell once while skating backwards. He moved up to second place to claim his first Grand Prix medal this season. "We decided to skate without a quadruple today, because I wanted to skate clean. It was the right decision", Serov commented. "I did my job today."

Dinev put his hand down on the opening quadruple toeloop but his program to modern Bulgarian Folk music featured five clean triple jumps. However, he lost speed in the middle of the routine. "I'm happy about my third place", Dinev said. "Of course, I hoped to stay in second. I wanted to do a quad toeloop and a triple Axel-triple toeloop. I did it in the warm up, but not in competition." Dinev was ranked fourth in the Free Skating.

Ilia Klimkin of Russia was third in the Free Program and moved up from eighth place to fifth overall. He landed a quadruple toeloop-double toeloop combination, but doubled his Axel twice.

Matthew Savoie (USA) slipped from third to fourth place. He landed five triple jumps and showed fast, well centered spins.

Vincent Restencourt (FRA) had to withdraw. The heel of one of his skating boots had come loose during the Short Program, and it was not possible to repair the boot.

All three medallists picked up points in Russia. Plushenko got the maximum of 24 points from both of his scoring events and has qualified for the Final. Serov got 9 points today, but he had none from Skate Canada. Dinev collected 7 points and still has a shot at qualifying for the Final next week at the NHK Trophy in Japan.

Ice Dancing, Original Dance

The Ice Dancing event continued with the Original Dance. World Champions Barbara Fusar-Poli/Maurizio Margaglio of Italy defended their lead after the Compulsory Dance. Galit Chait/Sergei Sakhnovski (ISR) stayed in second place, while the Ukrainians Elena Grushina/Ruslan Gontcharov remained third.

Fusar-Poli/ Margaglio produced a very characteristic interpretation of the Flamenco and Paso Doble, which they skated with much power and expression. The Judges awarded them marks from 5.6 to 5.8 for composition and from 5.7 to 5.9 for presentation. "I feel very good about our OD", Fusar-Poli said. "I was much calmer than in Germany (at the Sparkassen Cup on Ice), maybe because this is our second event. We have perfect conditions here - the ice, the arena, the crowd - everything is very good." Chait/Sakhnovski also turned in a passionate OD to the rhythms of the Paso Doble, Flamenco and Tango. Their routine featured a good lift. Their marks went up to 5.7 for composition and up to 5.8 for presentation. "This was probably the best we've skated this program so far", Sakhnovski commented. "We put in everything we had."

Skating last, Grushina/Goncharov delivered a fast paced Tango and Paso Doble that still looked somewhat rough around the edges. "I almost lost my balance", Grushina said. "It was not bad four our first competition this year. Now we know what we can improve."

Russia's Tatiana Navka/Roman Kostomarov remained in fourth place and their teammates Natalia Romaniuta/ Daniil Barantsev in fifth. This young team had to cope with a mishap, as flowers in Romaniuta's hair came loose and fell on the ice right after the Flamenco part of the OD. Referee Jarmila Portova stopped the couple and then they had to continue their program from the point of interruption.

The Cup of Russia concludes on Sunday with the Free Dance and the Exhibition Gala. Results are attached and are also directly available on the ISU Internet site at .


Ladies				SP	FP	Points

1. Irina Slutskaya (RUS)	1	1	1,5 
2. Viktoria Volchkova (RUS)	4	2	4,0
3. Angela Nikodinov (USA) 	2	3	4,0
4. Elena Sokolova (RUS)		3	4	5,5
5. Jennifer Robinson (CAN) 	6	5	8,0
6. Elena Liashenko (UKR) 	5	6	8,5
7. Zoya Douchine (GER) 		9	7	11,5
8. Galina Maniachenko (UKR) 	7	9	12,5
9. Kanako Takahashi (JPN)	10	8	13,0
10. Tamara Dorofejev (HUN)	8	10	14,0

Pairs							SP	FP	Points

1. Elena Berezhnaya/Anton Sicharulidze (RUS)		3	1	2,5 
2. Maria Petrova/Alexei Tichonov (RUS) 			1	2	2,5 
3. Sarah Abitbol/Stephane Bernadis (FRA)		2	3	4,0
4. Dorota Zagorska/Mariusz Siudek (POL) 		4	4	6,0
5. Julia Obertas/Alexei Sokolov (RUS)			5	5	7,5
6. Viktoria Maksiuta/Vitali Dubina (UKR) 		6	6	9,0
7. Valerie Marcoux/Bruno Marcotte (CAN)			7	7	10,5
8. Katerina Berankova/Otto Dlabola (CZE)		8	8	12,0
9. Laura Handy/Jonathon Hunt (USA)			10	9	14,0
10. Mariana Kautz/Norman Jeschke (GER) 			9	10	14,5

Men				SP	FP	Points

1. Evgeni Plushenko (RUS) 	1	1	1,5 
2. Roman Serov (RUS)		5	2	4,5
3. Ivan Dinev (BUL) 		2	4	5,0
4. Matthew Savoie (USA) 	3	5	6,5
5. Ilia Klimkin (RUS) 		8	3	7,0
6. Yosuke Takeuchi (JPN) 	6	6	9,0
7. Gheorghe Chiper (ROM)	4	7	9,0
8. Stefan Lindemann (GER)	7	8	11,5
9. Markus Leminen (FIN)		10	9	14,0
10. Vitali Danilchenko (UKR)	9	10	14,5

Vincent Restencourt (FRA)	11	

Ice Dancing						CD	OD	Points

1. Barbara Fusar-Poli/Maurizio Margaglio (ITA) 		1	1	1,0 
2. Galit Chait/Sergei Sachnovski (ISR)			2	2	2,0
3. Elena Grushina/Ruslan Goncharov (UKR) 		3	3	3,0
4. Tatiana Navka/Roman Kostomarov (RUS)			4	4	4,0
5. Natalia Romaniuta/Daniil Barantsev (RUS) 		5	5	5,0
6. Magali Sauri/Michael Stifunin (FRA) 			6	6	6,0
7. Agata Blazowska/Marcin Kozubek (POL)			7	7	7,0
8. Katarina Kovalova/David Szurman (CZE)		9	8	8,4
9. Stephanie Rauer/Thomas Rauer (GER)			8	9	8,6
10. Josee Piche/Pascal Denis (CAN)			10	10	10,0
11. Ekaterina Gozdkova/Timur Alaskhanov (RUS)		11	11	11,0
12. Jessica Huot/Juha Valkama (FIN)			12	12	12,0

For further information please contact:

Aline Bussat Ingwersen, 
ISU Media Coordinator 

Tel: +41 21 612 66 66   
Fax: +41 21 612 66 77


Gallina BlancaIlia Bronskij, 
Cup of Russia Press Officer 

Tel: +7 812 303 96 35  

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