Team Canada figure skaters stood atop the podium in three of the four events at the Skate Canada International Grand Prix competition in Regina on Saturday.
Skating to the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge, Virtue and Moir performed their free dance with great confidence early in this Olympic season. They scored 117.18, just 0.02 off their personal best, for an overall total of 199.86 points to break their own world record they had set at the world championships this past spring.
There is still room for that score to go even higher as they get more miles on the program on the path to PyeongChang 2018. Both of Virtue and Moir’s step sequences were graded at level three. They did receive 18 perfect 10s in their individual component scores, including from all but two judges (who gave them 9.75) for their interpretation of the music.
Virtue and Moir had also eclipsed their own world record score in Friday’s Latin-themed short dance, earning 82.68 points which gave them more than a five-point buffer over Weaver and Poje.
The three-time world champions have been undefeated since returning to competition after a two-year hiatus last season.
Weaver and Poje, themselves two-time world medallists, earned 112.54 in the free skate for an overall mark of 190.01. They were actually third in the free skate behind Americans Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, but their lead from the short dance gave them the edge.
It was only a couple of weeks ago that Weaver and Poje decided to get rid of the free dance they had choreographed for this season in favour of returning to music they first skated to in 2011-12. Je Suis Malade had been a signature program for them – and a fan favourite – and has now been re-worked to showcase their strengthened abilities as skaters. They hope it is a vehicle that can put them on the Olympic podium after being fourth at last year’s worlds.
The next Grand Prix event for Virtue and Moir will be NHK Trophy in Osaka, Japan in two weeks while Weaver and Poje will head to the Internationaux de France the following week.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford showed the form that won them back-to-back world titles to take gold in the pairs event. They came back from being second after the short program in which she had doubled their planned side-by-side triple lutzes.
They had no such problems with those lutzes – or any of their other elements – in their re-invented Muse free skate, which included one of their best throw quad salchows ever. It was a resilient performance, coming off a very rough free skate at the lower tier Autumn Classic in mid-September. But they had taken the weeks between then and now to shift some things around in an effort to make the program more consistent.
Their free skate score of 148.69 was more than enough to make up the almost four-point gap to world silver medallists Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot. Duhamel and Radford totalled 222.22 to the Germans’ 215.66. Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France scored 214.37 for the bronze.
Duhamel and Radford now have a full month until their second Grand Prix event, Skate America in Lake Placid, New York.
In the ladies’ event, reigning world silver medallist Kaetlyn Osmond also captured gold to open her Grand Prix season.
It wasn’t a perfect performance for Osmond in the free skate, as she fell out of the back end of her opening triple flip-triple toe combo and her closing double axel. But she did get five clean triple jumps in her program to the Black Swan soundtrack to score 136.85 in the free skate for an overall total of 212.91 points.
Russian Maria Sotskova took the silver medal with 192.52 points while American Ashley Wagner moved up from seventh after the short program to claim the bronze with 183.94 points.
Osmond had been the leader after the short program, in which she posted a personal best score of 76.06 points to give her a seven-point lead over Anna Pogorilaya. The Russian fell all the way to ninth after an error-filled free skate.
This is Osmond’s second career Grand Prix victory. The first also came at Skate Canada International way back in the fall of 2012 when she debuted on the circuit. After several years hindered by injury, she took a pair of silver medals last fall to qualify for her first Grand Prix Final. Her next competition is the Internationaux de France in three weeks.
Patrick Chan placed fourth in the men’s event after a very uncharacteristic free skate in which he doubled multiple jumps and was unable to land a clean quad. That dropped him from second place after the short program. He’ll now head back to his training centre in Detroit with just a couple weeks to regroup before his next Grand Prix event in Japan.