Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin of Russia triumphed in the Ice Dance event at the Helsinki Grand Prix, taking home their first Grand Prix gold. Italy’s Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri claimed the silver, their second Grand Prix medal, while Lorraine McNamara/Quinn Carpenter (USA) stepped onto the podium at a Grand Prix for the first time, taking bronze.
Stepanova/Bukin put out a sultry blues performance to Beth Hart’s “Am I the One”, executing intricate footwork and interesting lifts. The two-time European bronze medalists earned a level four for their lifts, the twizzles and the combination spin and a level three for the step sequences to set a new season’s best of 121.91 points. The Muscovites accumulated 200.09 points overall.
“This is the first time we have taken first place in the Grand Prix so this is a step forward for us. We hope to skate even better in our next competition,” Stepanova said.
“We’re really proud of this result and we hope it will push us further. Our coaches were extremely pleased that all the work we’ve put in paid off.”
Dancing to “La La Land”, Guignard/Fabbri produced a fast-paced and entertaining program highlighted by innovative lifts and smooth step sequences. However, Guignard fell on an in-between step.
The Skate America silver medalists managed a season’s best of 118.93 points and totaled 196.29 points. This second silver medal on the circuit should be enough to get the Italian couple into their first Grand Prix Final.
“Even though we didn’t have a lot of time since Skate America we still made some improvements as the segment score proved. Unfortunately, there was a really stupid mistake that we weren’t expecting. But it was not in an element and we are still very happy,” Fabbri said.
“It is a great feeling (to qualify for the Grand Prix Final for the first time). We got our first medal at Skate America, now this second medal and the ticket to the Final. This really motivates us.”
McNamara/Carpenter’s dance to a selection of music by Yann Tiersen featured four level-four elements, but the team lost two points for two extended lifts. The 2016 World Junior Champions came fourth in the Free Dance with 105.26 points, but remained in third place on 176.66 points.
“This is our first Grand Prix medal and something to be proud of,” McNamara said.
“Having two Grand Prix this season was a great opportunity for us and we’re really proud to take home the bronze from this one,” Carpenter added.
Sara Hurtado/Kirill Khaliavin (ESP) were ranked third in the Free Dance with their program to “Great Gig in the Sky” and “Sign of the Times” to move up one spot to fourth place (172.09 points). The 2018 World Junior silver medalists Christina Carreira/Anthony Ponomarenko (USA) finished fifth in their Grand Prix debut on 167.28 points. Juulia Turkkila/Matthias Versluis (FIN) placed sixth (160.62 points).
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Photo: Rémy Gros