BORDEAUX: Kazakh Denis Ten upstaged Japan’s Tatsuki Machida to head Friday’s (Nov21) men’s short programme as Russian teen Elena Radionova led the women’s event at the Trophee Eric Bompard.
Skate America winner Machida paid for errors on his final triple lutz jump at the end of his skate to ‘Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra’ to trail Olympic bronze medallist Ten by 3.08 points going into Saturday’s free skating final in the fifth of the six-leg ISU Grand Prix series.
Ten, 21, opened with a quad toeloop and nailed all his required elements to earn a career best 91.78 for his performance to ‘Caruso’ to make up for his fourth in Skate America.
“I didn’t have long to prepare for Skate America,” he explained after taking time off following the Olympics where he became the first Kazakh to medal at a Winter Games with his bronze. “I like to think of this tournament as a check point in the season,” he added.
Machida blamed ‘fatigue’ at the end of his programme for which he scored 88.70 to put him just ahead of Russian veteran Konstantin Menshov 87.47.
Earlier, Radionova mixed up classical Flamenico with Jennifer Lopez for a Latino-themed routine which scored high with the judges and the crowd at the Meriadeck Ice Rink in Bordeaux.
The 15-year-old from Moscow scored a personal best 67.28 to move closer to a spot in next month’s ISU Grand Prix final in Barcelona after also winning gold in the season-opening Skate America.
Fellow Russian Lipnitskaya (66.79) is sitting second with defending two-time champion American Ashley Wagner (61.35) a distant third, as both are also aiming for the Grand Prix final after finishing second in the Cup of China and Skate Canada respectively.
“It was my best performance of the season,” said Radionova. “I’ve grown since Skate America. I had enough time after to recover and prepare for this.” Unlike both her rivals she admitted she was fresher in her first senior campaign having missed the gruelling preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Lipnitskaya, who starred in the Russian team that won the Olympic team gold, also brought the crowd to their feet for her programme ‘Megapolis’ by Bel Suono – the story of a small girl looking for her kite that blew away. “Last season was very hard for me. It was tough to get into the new season,” said Lipnitskaya.
Wagner, 23, won the French title in 2012 and 2013 on the ice of Paris-Bercy, but despite a clean skate to ‘Spartacus’ lost points for difficulty of her elements to trail Radionova by nearly six points. “The levels got me today. Tomorrow I need to work on that. Against these two little girls I need to squeeze every point out of the programme.”
In pairs, Russia’s Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov lead the short programme as they bid for a second gold in a week after the Cup of Russia.
Skating to the Chinese-themed ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ gave them 71.20 to put themselves ahead of two Chinese teams – Sui Wenjing and Hang Cong (67.27) and Wang Xuehan and Wang Lei (63.25). “It was easier today. It is our second competition of the season and we were a little bit nervous in the first one at home,” said Klimkov.
Hosts France were given a boost with ice dancers Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, already winners of the Cup of China, comfortably leading the short dance with 64.06.
Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier are second with 61.90, with Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue of the United States in third on 60.19.
After Bordeaux, the Grand Prix series concludes next week with the NHK Trophy at Osaka, with the top six skaters in each of the four disciplines qualifying for the Grand Prix Final at Barcelona from December 11-14.