Kulik Wins Men’s Title, Gritschuk and Platov Triumph Again in Dance
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia (AP) _ Ilya Kulik of Russia skated the best free program of his young career to win the men’s competition at the Centennial on Ice on Saturday.
The 18-year-old landed nine triple jumps including two difficult combinations. Skating to the soundtrack from the movie ``Aladdin″, he opened with a combination jump of triple axel-triple toe loop followed by triple flip-triple toe loop.
Five of the seven judges placed him first and his marks included five 5.9s and nine 5.8s as Kulik finished ahead of two St Petersburg skaters, 15-year-old Alexei Yagudin and 1994 Olympic champion Alexei Urmanov.
Meanwhile, world and Olympic ice dance champions Oksana Gritschuk and Yevgeny Platov continued their domination by winning their event
The placings remained unchanged throughout the competition, and in a repeat of the 1996 European Championships, Russia’s Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov finished second with Irina Romanova and Igor Yaroshenko of Ukraine third.
Clearly delighted with his performance, Kulik said it was a very important competition as the Russian selectors were watching to decide who went to the world championships.
``This is my sixth competition this season and the first time that I have skated a clean short and long program,″ he said.
American skater Scott Davis pulled off a first triple axel but could not combine it with his planned double toe loop and then fell heavily on a second attempted triple axel. He successfully landed four other triples and placed fourth in the free program, moving up two places to finish fourth overall.
``I felt pretty good,″ Davis said afterwards. ``After a rough Nationals and the disappointment of not making the Worlds, it was hard to get motivated. I wanted to come here and give myself a lift. I felt much better out there than I did at Nationals.′
Gritschuk and Platov’s free dance, set to various Latin American rhythms, ranged in mood and speed from smooth gliding edges to characteristic breakneck speed and difficult step sequences. Again, all seven judges placed them first and awarded them a total of twelve 5.9s and two 5.8s.
The first three couples, trained by husband and wife team Natalia Linichuk and Gennady Karpanosov, will travel to Paris for the ISU Champions Series final before returning to Delaware to prepare for the World Championships.
The Centennial on Ice marks the 100th anniversary of the world championships of figure skating, first held on a pond in St. Petersburg in 1896.