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The 2012 Eric Bompard Trophy
by Sonia Bianchetti
The 5th Grand Prix event, the Trophée Bompard, was held in Paris on
November 16–17 in the marvelous skating arena of Bercy.
I always come with great enthusiasm to Paris because I love this wonderful
city and I enjoy its atmosphere. I really had a good time there. The list
of competitors was really appealing and I was confident that the event
would be interesting.
Pairs. In pairs, a great disappointment was the withdrawal of
Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy before the start of the competition.
Because of this they will not be able to take part in the final. Really
sad. The gold medal went to Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, RUS. This
was their second Grand Prix competition this season and it opened their
way to the Grand Prix Final in Sochi. They placed first in the short
program, performing a wonderful, flawless and very emotional program to
"The Blue Danube". In their free skating program, set to "February", they
placed 2nd. They stumbled on the first triple toe-loop/triple toe-loop
jump sequence, but then they executed all the other elements well. Their
program is well constructed to the music, which they interpret with
elegance and style. Their costumes are also very beautiful and classy.
The silver medal went to the Canadian pair Meagan Duhamel and Eric
Radford. Skating to "Angel" by Philippe Rombi, they performed a beautiful
program with difficult and well executed elements. Although she fell on
the throw triple loop, they placed first in free skating. With this result
they have earned the right to take part in the final.
The bronze medal went to Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek, ITA. It is
the second time that they placed third this year. It was a happy surprise
for them, having placed 4th in short and 5th in free. Skating to "Posta en
el viento flamenco" by Vincente Arrigo, they executed a triple toe-double
toe-double toe combination, a triple twist, a throw triple loop and
Salchow which she doubled, as well as two level-four lifts. Their program
was well performed and pleasant to watch.
Ladies. U.S. National Champion Ashley Wagner dominated this event,
winning her second Grand Prix event this year and qualifying for the
final. Ashley, who had placed 2nd in short, won the free skating. She was
the only skater who performed two flawless programs. Skating to
Saint-Saens' dramatic music, "Samson and Delilah", she executed a
marvelous program filled with difficult jumps and beautiful spins, very
pleasant to watch, appealing and emotional. Aside from excellent technique
in her jumps, she also skates, gliding on the ice with natural elegance,
which has become an unusual feature in figure skating nowadays!
The winner of the silver medal was Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, 16 years old,
from Russia. Wearing an elegant black costume, Elizaveta executed the
second flawless program of the event. Besides having excellent jumps and
beautiful spins, Elizaveta's program is well choreographed and she
interprets the chosen music. Her look is dark-eyed in an elegant, touching
way. A real young marvel.
The bronze medal went to another young very promising skater from Russia,
Julia Lipnitskaia, 14 years old. Julia, who had placed 1st in the short
with a flawless, marvelous program skated to the Nutcracker Suite by
Tchaikovski, performed a beautiful free program with a few errors. She put
her hand down on the triple Lutz, which was also started from the wrong
edge, stepped out of the triple flip, and doubled the triple Salchow. But
her spins are just fantastic and she is unbelievable with her flexibility.
She is very fresh and captivating on the ice. Another with great promise.
In the Ladies I was also impressed by Christine Gao, USA, who is now
studying at Harvard. Christine, who placed 4th, has a long and thin
physique and a superb lightness to her jumps. Skating to the famous
.Libertango. by Astor Piazzola, dressed in black, she performed the third
flawless program with grace and elegance. Another very promising young
Men. In the men's event, there was great anticipation for Johnny
Weir's return to major international competition after two sabbatical
years. Johnny was announced at the Rostelecom Cup last week in Moscow, but
after a total disaster in the short program where he finished a distant
last, he had to withdraw. Things do not seem to be working well for him
because, a few days before the Trophé Bompard, he announced he
would not participate. Really sad.
Apart from this, the men's event was the most disappointing one in both
the short and the free programs. In the short, only Jeremy Abbott executed
a clean program. All the others were filled with errors and falls. The
same applies to free skating, where only Florent Amodio executed a
The winner, Takahito Mura from Japan, placed 2nd both in short and free.
In his free program to Shogun, he executed excellent high jumps at great
speed. His only mistake was that he singled the planned triple flip. The
whole program was well performed and exciting.
The silver medal was won by Jeremy Abbott, USA. While in the short program
he was perfect, in the free he had a few errors and he was placed only
3rd. His quadruple toe-loop was downgraded and he singled the second Axel.
Still, the way he moves on the ice is so elegant and fascinating. Each
movement makes sense, is exactly what the music calls for. From the
artistic point of view, he is one of the best skaters at the moment. He
only needs to be more consistent.
The bronze medal went to Florent Amodio, FRA. Florent moved from 7th in
the short to third place thanks to an amazing and perfect free program in
which he was placed 1st. Skating to "Jumpin' Jack" and "Broken Sorrow", he
executed correctly all the jumps, including a quadruple Salchow. His
skating is flamboyant but excessive in the use of the arms. In my opinion,
he was over-marked in the Program Components.
Ice dancing. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, the European
champions and World bronze medalists, won their second gold medal this
year. They were first at the Cup of China and they repeated their success
at home. The short dance is set to "French Waltz" and "Can Can" while
their free dance is set to a Rolling Stones medley. I cannot express an
opinion on the technical quality of their free dance because, as is well
known, I am not an expert in ice dancing. But I am sorry to say that their
program this year does not convince me. In the past I enjoyed watching
them; I found them fascinating and captivating, while in Paris I did not
feel any emotion nor transport. My feeling is that the choice of this kind
of music was not the best for them.
The silver medal went to Anna Capellini and Luca La Notte (ITA). Skating
to Carmen by Bizet, Luca had to overcome his fall on the twizzles
right at the beginning of their free dance, but then they continued
without any further mistakes. They performed a passionate, sensuous and
captivating program. Anna and Luca really interpreted Carmen and Don
Joswith passion and emotion and reached the heart of the public, which
expressed their appreciation with great enthusiasm. This was their second
Grand Prix silver medal this season.
The bronze medal went to Ekaterina Riazanova and Elia Tkachenko from
Russia. Dressed in very elegant light grey costumes, they skated a
beautiful program to The Godfather by Nino Rota, which included
some original elements. I enjoyed their way of skating and their appeal on
And now let's take a few moments to consider the sad side of this Grand
Prix, the poor performances by the majority of the skaters present in
Paris. Once again, I experienced two opposing feelings: on one side, my
distress in seeing many talented top world skaters virtually falling apart
both in short and free skating (only four free programs out of 25 in
singles and pairs were clean, and many were marred with big falls!), and
on the other, my joy in seeing some really outstanding programs which made
my trip to Paris worthwhile. Still, it is hard to accept that in all the
five Grand Prix events held so far, except for the top three finishers in
men, ladies and pairs, which were really outstanding, the rest of the
skating was simply depressing, in both the short and free programs. And
this cannot be explained away just as being early in the season! But what
was even more depressing and worrisome was the poor quality of skating and
the total lack of choreography and musicality. Why, then, such a disaster?
What prevents the skaters from standing up and skating?
The answer you get from the coaches is always the same. The programs are
too demanding; the spins and the step sequences, with all the "features"
required to get high levels, are especially exhausting. In order to gain
points, the artistry has completely vanished. No time for the
We have heard this hundreds of times. It is useless to discuss it at
What we cannot ignore, though, is that we are no longer seeing the
skaters' passion, the skaters' joy during their performances; we are only
seeing skaters suffering and struggling to get to the end of overly
demanding programs. What a relief when the music stops!
Is this figure skating? In a program I want to see passion, I want to see
the joy of the skater, his feeling for the music, his personality. A
skater must be fascinating, captivating and appealing for his art. A real
champion is beautiful to look at because he is elegant, because he is
harmonious and expressive, intense and communicative.
If a program does not reach the heart of the spectators, in my opinion, it
is not a good program. It may be technically well executed, and perhaps
the fact that figure skating has been turned from a beautiful and artistic
sport into mathematics is considered satisfactory by some people, but if
the emotion it gives you is as intense as that provided by a robot, I am
afraid something is wrong. Is this what the world is looking for?
I do not think so.