MOSCOW (AP) — Japan's Tatsuki Machida and Russia's Julia Lipnitskaia won gold Saturday in the Rostelecom Cup, the last of the season's six preliminary Grand Prix events.
Machida landed a clean quad-double combination and followed with a triple axel-triple toe loop to race past early leader Maxim Kovtun, who had an error-riddled free skate. Machida, second after the short program, complained of feeling out of shape for reasons he couldn't identify.
"I'm still in bad condition so it was a hard performance today," he said. "But I really wanted to get a Grand Prix (Final) slot, so I was working so hard." For the United States, Richard Dornbush was fifth among the men while Mirai Nagasu was third among the women. Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished third in ice dance. The best showing in pairs was sixth by Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim.
Machida's only significant misstep was putting a hand down to the ice on his opening quad. He was followed in the final standings by Kovtun of Russia and Javier Fernandez of Spain. Kovtun landed one quad, but fell on his first try and doubled his second and went on to step out of a triple axel and single a triple lutz. It was a sharp contrast to the Russian's short program in which he landed two quads with deceptive ease.
"I felt exhausted," Kovtun said, appearing baffled at the change since the previous night's triumph. "I had no speed going into the second quad. I could not show any proper emotion on the ice. In the women's event, Lipnitskaia fell on her opening jump and was "very dissatisfied" with her performance, but the 15-year-old prodigy still edged Carolina Kostner. Agnes Zawadzki of the U.S. was sixth.
In pairs, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany were the winners, followed by Russia's Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov and Canada's Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch. Ekaterina Bobrova faltered during her free dance with Dmitri Soloviev, but the Russians held on for the ice dance gold. Canada's Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won the silver.
Lipnitskaia also won Skate Canada, and her second victory of the season means she qualified for the Grand Prix Final, which she missed last year because of injury. Kostner and Nagasu won't make the final.
"I'm happy to qualify for the final with two victories, but I'm very dissatisfied with today. It was most likely my worst performance ever in competition," Lipnitskaia said. "I made a mistake on the first jump and wasn't able to pull myself together."
Lipnitskaia was well ahead of Kostner going into the free skate after a precise and ambitious short program. But after falling on her triple lutz, she put her hand down on the second jump. Kostner opened well, but later put her hands down on two jumps. She won the free skate, but ended 0.68 points behind Lipnitskaia in the overall results.
Kostner, the 2012 world champion, took it in stride, saying she won't let it distract her preparations for the Sochi Olympics. "I made a few mistakes, but that's how it goes building up to an important event," the Italian said.
Nagasu was pleased with third, after her eighth-place finish at the NHK Trophy. "I wish I could put two and two together and make it to the final, but unfortunately that isn't the case. I'll take it as a blessing in disguise because then I have more time to train for nationals," she said.
Nagasu had been in fourth, just one-hundredth of a point behind Zawadzki, who was hurt by her free program. Savchenko took a hard fall in the short program, but showed no signs of lasting trouble in the pair's program to "The Nutcracker Suite," which ended dramatically with a throw triple salchow as the music climaxed.
Tchaikovsky is always a hit with Russian crowds and Savchenko was a bit perplexed when the crowd started clapping at the early notes. "I thought it was really nice, but I also thought maybe we'd missed something," she said.
The German and Canadian pairs qualify for the Grand Prix Final, but Bazarova and Larionov, after a fourth-place finish at Trophee Bompard, won't go. Moore-Towers fell on her chest coming out of a lasso lift, which she casually characterized as one of "a couple of little weird things" in the routine.
"We forgot to land a couple of things," Moscovitch said, laughing.