Saturday, December 8th – Iceberg Skating Palace – Sochi, Russia
*Coverage of the 2012 Grand Prix Final will air on NBC this Sunday from 1-3 p.m. ET*
Team USA added three medals today as events concluded from the 2012 Grand Prix Final and 2012 Junior Grand Prix Final. Ashley Wagner earned silver today for her first Grand Prix Final medal, while Meryl Davis and Charlie White made history as they became the first ice dance team in history to win four Grand Prix Final titles.
Davis and White skated their best performances of the season in Sochi to total a season-high 183.39 points. Their “Notre-Dame” free dance, that White called “fantastic,” was highlighted by an array of level 4 elements including one spin, four lifts and the twizzle sequence. They earned 110.19 points for the segment.
White continued, “Emotionally, technically, we really put it all out there. I’m proud of the way we fought through it. It’s a great step to help us build toward winning Worlds.”
Russian President Vladmir Putin was on hand to watch the free dance, a fact that Davis and White were aware of but tried to push to the back of their minds before the skate.
“The ice, the atmosphere and the crowd were fantastic,” Davis said. “We heard (Russian President) Putin was in the audience which is really exciting. When you hear about important people in the audience, it’s not something you try to focus on before you skate. But afterward we were like, ‘Oh! Putin was in the audience. That’s cool.'”
Wagner showcased her tenacity as she continued her “Samson and Delilah” free skate following a hard fall on a double Axel and earned 115.49 points for the segment. She started out strong with a triple flip-double toe-double toe jump sequence that earned 9.30 points. Wagner would fall earlier in the program on a triple Salchow, but rebounded nicely with a pair of spins and two triple jumps before suffering the fall that required immediate ice on her left hip following her exit from the ice.
Despite the pain, Wagner went on to perform triple flip and her closing spin.
“I’m really proud of myself. I was able to pull myself together after a fall like that,” she said. “Going into the next jump, you’re pretty much terrified that you’re going to do that again. I knew I could either give the competition away or at that point I could continue to fight. I’m happy that I really pushed through.”
Wagner, who totaled 181.93 points for the week, doesn’t think she injured herself seriously.
“We’re going to see how it progresses for the rest of the weekend,” she said. “The team doctor said that I have a hip pointer. I don’t know what that is but I can tell you it hurts. We might be looking into getting X-rays later this week. For the most part, I think it’s one of those things where I got myself pretty good. But I’ll be fine by the time nationals comes around.”
Japan’s Mao Asada enjoyed the best competition of her season to secure her third Grand Prix Final title with a score of 196.80 points. Her teammate Akiko Suzuki won bronze with 180.77 points.
Christina Gao, in her Grand Prix Final debut, totaled 154.54 points for the week. She felt much more comfortable in her free skate after what she called a shaky short program.
“It felt much better than yesterday,” Gao said. “I didn’t have a great warm up but I’m glad I pulled it together for the program. I know I’m tough and I’m more consistent than I’ve ever been before. Overall, I’m happy with how I did.”
Featuring a field of newly minted JGP Final competitiors, the junior ladies podium featured Hannah Miller, who won the silver medal for Team USA. Coming into the competition, Miller was focused on competing two strong performances. She did just that, and received what coach Kirsten Miller-Zisholz called “a bonus” medal.
On medaling, Miller said, ““It’s super great. It was just my goal to come here and skate my best. That put me in a medal spot so I’m excited.”
She earned 168.41 points for the week and claimed the silver medal by one point over bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya of Russia. Elena Radionova helped the host country complete a sweep of the junior podium with a total score of 179.40 points.
Angela Wang had reason to celebrate after executing the second-best free skate of the day to the tune of 110.89 points, a season high. Her Ladies in Lavender program was highlighted by the highest-scoring technical element of the segment, a triple Lutz-triple toe-double toe combination worth 12.50 points.
“I felt really calm,” she said. “I have been working really hard on my artistry for this program and I hope that showed.”
Wang finished with 162.05 points for the week.
Leah Keiser placed sixth in Sochi with a total score of 137.44 points.
Complete coverage of the event is available at icenetwork.com.
Members of Team USA will next be in action at the 2013 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships set for Jan. 20-27 at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Neb.