Tarasova and Morozov win second Skate America gold medal
that of Russia Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov won gold at the 2021 Guaranteed Rate Skate America, their second gold at the event, Saturday night in Las Vegas, Nev. Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara of Japan won silver in the second Grand Prix of their careers, while Russians Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii settled for bronze.
Tarasova and Morozov, who had a five-point lead in their free skate, had a few bobbles on the side-to-side jumps as Tarasova doubled her Salchow and Morozov came out of the triple toe-double toe combination. However, the triple flip throw and triple loop throw were solid and the double world silver medalists also got many positive Execution Ratings (GOEs) for their tricks and spins. The team scored 142.14 points for their performance at “Lighthouse” and maintained the top spot overall with more than 14 points to lose (222.50).
“Today has been a long and difficult day,” said Morozov. “Here we had a good competition during the season. We skated one result and this competition was not perfect, but a good stage for us so I think we need to work harder and show better performance on ice in the next competition.
“It’s a good feeling,” he added, regarding winning their first Grand Prix in three years. “Over the past three years we’ve had a lot, a lot of changes and it was difficult to always focus one hundred percent. For this season, fortunately, we have started working at home in Moscow with a great team and great coaches and that is why we have started to achieve good results again.
Miura and Kihara, who placed third after the short (72.63), also finished third (135.57) in the free skate, but with a total score of 208.20, managed to clinch second place in the General classification. All three scores were new personal bests for the 2020 Japanese champions who won gold at the Fall Classic earlier this season. The only major mistake in their free skate on Shawn Phillips’ “Woman” was Miura falling on the triple Lutz thrown in which she slipped off her blade and hit the boards. She also got her hands on a triple loop throwing, but the team otherwise had good side-to-side triple toe, double toe, double toe and triple salchow while getting positive GOEs on their lifts and rotations.
“For this competition we really weren’t hoping or aiming for a medal,” said Miura. “We were just trying to show what we were doing in training so we are absolutely surprised to have finished second in this competition.”
“We had our best score today and we’re very happy, but it’s more regrettable that in the pitch we made a mistake and I fell,” said Miura. “I really focused on not having this mistake in mind and just tried my best so that I didn’t mind and regrouped.”
Now that they’ve hit the “200 mark” on top of winning a medal, their goal is to keep aiming for another medal in their next NHK Trophy event with over 210 points. Miura admires Chinese pairs skaters Wenjing Sui and Cong Han, while Kihara admires Shen Xue and Hongbo Zhao.
Boikova and Kozlovskii had two falls in their free skate at “Malaguena” when Boikova fell on the side-to-side triple Salchows-Euler-triple Salchows and a thrown triple flip. The Russian silver medalists also showed a level four triple twist, thrown triple loop and tough lifts to finish fourth in the free skate (130.10). The 2021 Worlds bronze medalists, who were second (75.43) after the short program, slipped to third overall (205.53).
“It didn’t all work out, but it was a huge experience for us and it was very interesting,” said Kozlovskii.
Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier, who placed fifth after the short program, gave a moving performance on “Fix You” and “Redemption Through Love” and finished second in the free skate. The national champions opened with a triple throw twist and side-to-side triple Salchows, but Knierim put one foot on the triple throw loop and a triple flip with both feet. Nonetheless, the team recorded a new personal best in both free skate (136.60) and overall score (202.97) and rose to fourth overall.
“We can do so much better,” Knierim said. “This program was just the start of what we are capable of. This program was only scratching the surface of what we do without adrenaline and nerves at home. At home we skate harder, faster and cleaner, but it was great getting the job done today and checking every item off. We’re happy to have had a good performance, but we can skate a lot better.
“I made the basic mistake as a top competitor and thought too much yesterday instead of yesterday,” Frazier said of the side-to-side triple toe drop. “Yesterday I was thinking. Today I did.
“We were quite discouraged after the short film; it was hard to watch the levels so low, ”Knierim added. “We have to go home and really clean this up. I think it’s a privilege to be in any warm-up group at a Grand Prix, but we all know it’s really satisfying to be in the last warm-up group and we were a little discouraged not to be in this warm-up group. I think today we wanted to declare that this is where we belong. “
Teammates Jessica Calalang and Brian Johnson had two falls in their free skate against “Who Wants to Live Forever” when Calalang fell on the side-to-side triple toes and Johnson on the side-to-side triple Salchows. The reigning silver medalist also showed a good triple Lutz and a triple Salchow to score 128.55 in freestyle and 197.42 overall – both scores exceeding their previous personal bests from the Four Continents 2020 – to finish fifth. in the general classification.
“This was not the program we wanted to skate,” said Calalang. “Knowing that we can achieve this high score with the two big mistakes says a lot about the work we have done over the past year. With the two mistakes at the start, we just put it aside because it’s like, ‘Okay, it’s done and finished’ and we wanted to hit those high GOEs.
The team kept their free skate from last year, but changed it.
“We added a different elevator from last year and we also changed the order a bit and improved some of the transitions,” Johnson said. “We’re really trying to work on our speed in our skating and our connection with each other and the connection with the public.”
“We have never skated this program to its full potential and we know it is a great vehicle for us for this Olympic season,” added Calalang. “It showcases our speed and strength as well as our musicality, so we felt there was still more to give in this program.”
They will then compete in the Challenger Series Warsaw Cup next month and then start qualifying for US nationals in January.
For their Grand Prix debut, Russians Alina Pepeleva and Roman Pleshkov finished sixth (183.12), followed by Americans Chelsea Liu and Danny O’Shea (175.40) who are also making their team debuts. Canada’s Evelyn Walsh and Trennt Michaud were eighth (147.61).