15-year-old Russian earns world-leading score on senior Grand Prix debut
Russian teenager Alexandra Trusova announced herself onto the senior Grand Prix circuit in style, landing three quadruple jumps to win the ladies competition at Skate Canada.
Sitting third after the short program behind Rika Kihira and Young You, the 15-year-old had ground to make up but her quad-heavy free skate always made her a favourite for the podium top-spot.
There was early drama, however, as she fell on her opening jump, a quad Salchow.
But Trusova came back in emphatic style, going on to land a quad Lutz, quad toe loop, triple toe loop combination and quad toe loop, Euler, triple Salchow combination.
The performance earned her world-leading free and total scores of 166.62 and 241.02. Kihira took second place, You finished third in Kelowna, British Colombia.
"I am very happy that I have won," said Trusova, who skated to the 'Game of Thrones' soundtrack. "I will keep working more once I am back home."
On the opening fall she added: "It often happens that I fall on the first jump in practice.
"After that I just pull myself together and carry on. There’s nothing special going on in my head, I just keep going.
"It's ok, I will just have to keep working."
The teenager said: "I love competitions and wait for them with excitement. I just love what I do."
Asked if her coach, Eteri Tutberidze who was not present in Kelowna, had congratulated her yet, she replied: "It's night time there [in Russia]. I am sure she will congratulate me later."
Trusova also said she continues to work on the triple Axel, the jump that helped to hand Kihira and You the advantage after Friday's short program.
"The triple Axel is much better," she said. "As of now, I still haven’t landed a clean one but I’ve landed it with a step out. But it’s getting better."
Kihira of Japan, the leader after the short program, earned second place with a strong skate, despite stepping out of the opening triple Axel - her trademark jump.
The 17-year-old landed her second attempt at the jump in combination with a triple toe loop.
Kihira says she is motivated to reevaluate her own programs after seeing Trusova claim world-leading scores.
"When I saw Ms. Trusova scored 166 points, I was extremely surprised," she said.
"Even if I performed perfectly, I didn't know whether I would beat her. And I've never felt like that before and want to change my structure so that I can increase my scores."
Another senior debutant, Young You, managed to come in third, cementing an impressive first Grand Prix outing for the South Korean.
You, 15, admits she was disappointed to fall on her opening triple Axel after becoming just the 11th woman to land the jump in international competition in the short program on Friday.
"I guess I was a little tired today and kind of nervous before my program," said You.
"I lost my triple Axel. Afterwards I tried to control myself more and it went better. But I am still disappointed about my triple Axel."
Olympic silver medallist Evgenia Medvedeva came back fighting after a disappointing short program, skating clean in a free skate to the 'Memoirs of a Geisha' soundtrack with a performance that had the crowd on their feet at the finish.
Coach Brian Orser let out an audible "yes!" from the boards as Medvedeva landed her last jump.
The redemptive skate put Medvedeva in fifth behind Bradie Tennell of the USA.
Medvedeva said afterwards that her mistakes in her short program on Friday, including a fall on her triple Lutz, were unexpected, and played down her performance in the free.
"I can't say that today I did something or something unusual for me," she said. "The clean long program is normal for me. That's what I'm doing every day in practice. Better or worse, plus, minus, but it's usually clean.
"[What] I did today, it's ok. It is not good, it is not something. Yesterday was unusual."
The double world champion moved to Toronto to train under Orser in summer 2018 and struggled to find her top form last season.
Medvedeva revealed what her coach had said to her after the disappointing short program, adding: "He just told me that I don't deserve it. We worked really hard and [sooner or later] it has to pay off... I have to do really good performances.
"In today's morning practice he told me that he is believing in me."
There was delight for the home crowd as Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier performed an emotional free dance to earn 126.43, the highest score of the season so far.
That meant 209.01 and first place for the duo, with Gilles ecstatically leaping to her feet in the kiss and cry when she heard the score.
The success marks a first ever Grand Prix first place for the pair and follows an early-season win at Autumn Classic International last month.
We’ve pushed so hard for this moment - Piper Gilles
"I’m just so proud of what we’ve both done today," said Gilles. "We’ve pushed so hard for this moment and both of us have really dreamed of being on top of the podium, especially this year.
"We’ve been wanting to win every competition this season and that’s what we’re planning on doing so it was a nice way to kick off."
Poirier added: "This was a really special moment. It was such a joy to have the Kelowna audience behind us in both performances this week."
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, winners at Skate America last weekend and reigning world bronze medallists, came in second after receiving 123.10 in the free dance.
Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson of Great Britain skated a personal best score of 118.68 to take third place - their first ever Grand Prix podium.
Referred to on social media as the 'Disco Brits', Fear and Gibson's program to Madonna's 'Vogue' rocked the Prospera Place crowd.