Chan, Kostner golden but pairs shine brighter

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Chan, Kostner golden but pairs shine brighter


Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany perform at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final on Saturday in Quebec City, Canada. [AP/YONHAP]

QUEBEC CITY, Canada - Canada’s reigning world champion Patrick Chan stumbled twice and fell once, but held on for his second consecutive win at the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix Final on Saturday.

Italy’s Carolina Kostner claimed the women’s title, the three-time European champion’s first in the Grand Prix series finale. Her performance also had some rough edges that will require attention heading into the 2012 championship events.

In contrast, the pairs medallists delivered sparkling performances. Three-time world champions from Germany, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, overtook first round leaders Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia to claim gold by the slimmest of margins - 212.26 to 212.08. Both couples earned standing ovations for captivating performances which featured superb lifts, spins, throws and individual triple jumps performed at lightning speed.

A second Russian duo, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, earned bronze with an impressive free skate for a total of 187.77 points.

The Germans’ program, set to music from the movie “Pina” - a documentary about modern dance pioneer Pina Bausch - featured enchantingly quirky choreography.

Their angular positions and movements gave the veteran couple a fresh, modern look. Volosozhar and Trankov struck an emotional chord with their dramatic interpretation set to the “Black Swan” soundtrack.

The two couples will continue their rivalry in January at the European championships in Britain, and at the worlds in France in March.

Chan, leader after the short program, struggled to control the landings on his two quadruple toe-loop jumps. He stayed upright, but later fell on a simpler triple lutz. Still, he notched enough total points - 260.30 - to hold off Japan’s Daisuke Takahashi.

“My quads were really good this week in practice, so it’s funny that I kind of missed on both of them, but I did some quick thinking and put a triple toe at the end of the triple flip and that helped me today,” Chan said.

Takahashi rebounded after a disappointing short program to climb from fifth to second overall with 249.12. The 2010 world champion delivered the most solid jumping performance of the day. His only error came in touching one hand down to steady himself after two-footing the landing of his quadruple toe-loop.

Javier Fernandez, the first Spaniard to qualify for the finals, won the bronze.

Like Chan, Kostner was competent if not stellar. Sporting a shimmering silver-grey bodysuit, she showed six triple jumps but three of her landings were shaky.

She won with a total of 187.48 points, significantly outdistancing Japan’s Akiko Suzuki, who took silver with 179.76. Russian Alena Leonova claimed bronze ith 176.42.

“I was really nervous going into this performance having to defend my lead, so I am happy I didn’t have any major mistakes, but I have the feeling I could have done better,” said the 24-year-old 2011 world bronze medallist.

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