Event: Finlandia Trophy
Location: Espoo, Finland
Dates: October 8-11
Category: ISU Challenger Series
Russia’s elder statesman Konstantin Menshov took out the victory here, finish second in both segments of the competition but coming up with the highest points total. Menshov’s goal of doing a two-quadruple short and a three-quadruple long came unstuck, with a fall on the quad Salchow in the short program and popping the third quad – a quad toe – into a triple in the long program, but his other quadruple jumps all garnered positive grade of executions and his performances were generally strong.
Adam Rippon from the USA took out the silver medal. His short program was marred by a fall from a heavily-downgraded quadruple Lutz attempt and a mistake on his triple Axel, seeing him place third. His free skate saw him earn the highest score of the night, with only two minor mistakes. It is notable that he did not attempt the quadruple Lutz in the long, and as he has not come close to rotating one in competition for over a year, it is possible that a strategic rethink could be on the cards.
Sergei Voronov from Russia came in third but was visibly disappointed with his performance here. He led the field after the short program with a strong skate, but struggled in the free, popping jumps, stepping out of them, and giving up levels on the step sequence. With the younger Russian men now starting to come through, he will be looking for more consistency during the Grand Prix.
It was Rika Hongo from Japan who was victorious in the ladies' event. She took the lead after the short program and was never headed, collecting level fours for all but one spin across both programs and claiming positive grades of execution for nearly every jump. With the return of Mao Asada this season, the battle will be tight for places at the top of Japanese ladies and Hongo has placed herself nicely going into the season.
Russia's Julia Lipnitskaya took home the silver with two solid performances. After a rough 2014-2015 season, Lipnitskaya is looking to rebound and reclaim a place in the bloodbath Russian ladies' field. Several small mistakes, a fall and lost levels on both spins and steps cost her here, but she has laid down a solid platform to launch her season proper from, including a clean triple-triple in the short program and the switching of the Lutz for the flip.
Swedish star Joshi Helgesson came in third with a steady overall performance. Her short program had one jump mistake and one level three spin but was otherwise clean and well-presented, and though she did not hit all of her jumps or spin levels in the long program, she did hit six triples with only one popped jump and has shown excellent improvement leading into the Grand Prix.
Canadian couple Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje stamped their authority on this competition from the outset. They hit five of the six keypoints for the Ravensberger Waltz pattern in their short dance, marred only by a deduction for holding their level-four curve lift for too long. Their beautifully-presented free dance saw every element bar the twizzles earn positive grades of execution from the judges, and they are clearly in good form ahead of the season.
The stunning silver medallists were the brand-new couple of Isabella Tobias and Ilia Tkachenko of Israel. This couple only started skating together in April 2014, and were unable to compete at all in the 2014-2015 season as both had previously skated for other countries. They have clearly put that time to good use, hitting five out of six keypoints for the pattern in their short dance and turning in an excellent free dance where only two elements were lower than level four.
Just as delightful were the third-placed Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sorenson from Denmark. The Danes have already had an excellent start to the season, taking home a surprise silver at Salt Lake City, and backed it up with a solid bronze medal here. They hit all six keypoints in the short dance pattern, but had difficulty on their twizzles. In the free dance, however, they were almost flawless, with positive grade of execution for every element, and they will be a very exciting team to watch as the season progresses.
You might have noticed there were no Pairs at this event! This does happen on occasion - sometimes, a competition receives no entries for that division, and other times, the competition does not itself offer it. Pairs and Ice Dance unfortunately suffer from much smaller fields than those enjoyed by the men and ladies, and thus are not always at all events.