(November 15, 2004)
It was a very successful weekend for Canadian skaters at the 2004 Cup of China this past weekend.
Canadian skaters took home a total of four medals from the event, which was the fourth of six events on this season's International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix circuit. The four medals at this event currently brings the Canadian total to 11 on this year's circuit.
Capturing the gold medal in the Men's event was 22-year-old Sudbury, Ont. native Jeffrey Buttle. Buttle, who won the bronze medal at the 2004 MasterCard Skate Canada International at the end of October, placed first in both portions of the event - the short program and the free skate - to finish first overall.
Buttle earned a total of 211.20 points at the event, which is a personal best under the new judging system. Buttle laid down a strong free skate, opening the program with a triple flip-double toe loop combination, followed by a triple Axel and three more triple jumps, including a triple Axel-double toe loop combination. His program also featured difficult spins and unique choreography.
"It wasn't perfect, but it was an improvement over MasterCard Skate Canada International," said Buttle.
Winning the silver medal was China's Chengjiang Li, who earned a total of 197.15 points, and Germany's Stefan Lindemann took home the bronze medal with a total of 188.80 points.
Sherbrooke, Que.'s Marc-André Craig, 22, who was competing in his very first ISU Grand Prix event, finished the event in 10th-place.
L-R: Viktoria Volchkova (RUS), Irina Slutskaya (RUS), Joannie Rochette (CAN)
Ile Dupas, Que.'s Joannie Rochette won her first-ever medal on the ISU Grand Prix circuit by placing third at this event. The 18-year-old placed fifth in the short program, but came back to deliver a strong free skate to place second in that portion of the event and third overall with a total of 152.12 points.
Rochette's free skate highlights included an impressive triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, which marked the first time she completed this combination in competition, as well as a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and a triple flip-triple Salchow sequence.
She was very pleased with her performance.
"I'm very proud of my performance today," commented Rochette at a post-event press conference. "I was disappointed with my short program, but I came back. It was a good start to the season, but not perfect yet."
Winning the gold medal was Russia's Irina Slutskaya, who earned a total of 177.80 points, while her teammate, Viktoria Volchkova, won the silver medal with a total of 154.16 points.
Placing seventh in the event was Vancouver's Mira Leung, who earned a total of 128.90 points.
In the Pair event, the 2004 Canadian Pair Champions Valérie Marcoux and Craig Buntin took home the bronze medal, which, like Rochette, is their first-ever ISU Grand Prix medal. The 24-year-old Marcoux, of Gatineau, Que., and Buntin, 24, of Kelowna, B.C., placed third in both the short program and the free skate to place third overall. They earned a total of 164.86 points.
Marcoux and Buntin's free skate was highlighted by a strong triple twist, two impressive triple throws (throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow) and difficult lifts.
"I think artistically the performance was very, very good tonight," said Buntin at a post-event press conference.
The gold medal in the Pair event went to two-time World Pair Champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao, of China, who were awarded a total of 193.54 points. Winning the silver medal were Shen and Zhao's teammates, Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang, who earned a total of 175.02 points.
Two-time Canadian Ice Dance Champions Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon won the bronze medal in the Ice Dance event. Dubreuil, 30, of Montreal, and Lauzon, 28, of Boisbriand, Que., placed second in the compulsory dance, third in the original dance and third in the free dance to place third overall with a total of 199.44 points.
Dubreuil and Lauzon, who won the silver medal at the 2004 MasterCard Skate Canada International, skated a difficult program that featured a one-armed rotational lift and a reverse rotational lift with changes of position.
"We had an ok performance today," said Dubreuil at a post-event press conference. "The performance wasn't as good as at MasterCard Skate Canada International, but most elements were solid."
Taking home the gold medal were Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, who were awarded a total of 210.28 points, and placing second were Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski, of Israel, who earned 204.42 points in total.
The next event on the ISU Grand Prix circuit is the 2004 Trophée Eric Bompard Cachemire, which will be held Nov. 19-21 in Paris, France.