Kavaguti, Smirnov win Skate America pairs
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Illinois (AP) — Yuka Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia won the Skate America pairs competition in convincing fashion on Sunday.
The 2010 Olympians outclassed the field and came through with another solid performance in the free skate after taking the lead in the short program. They finished with 209.16 points to win by a wide margin.
Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier (183.84) took second, the highest finish for a U.S. pair at Skate America since 2008, and China’s Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao were third at 182.43.
The women’s free skate followed, with Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva leading countrywoman Elena Radionova and American Gracie Gold after the short program.
Kavaguti and Smirnov are re-establishing themselves after Smirnov injured his knee at a competition in a fall at a competition in St. Petersburg, Russia, a year ago. He had surgery and went through more than six months of recovery, and the duo missed the Sochi Games.
They were clearly the class of this event, but Denney and Frazier were thrilled with their performance on Sunday. Skating to the Lion King soundtrack, they moved up a spot to second after taking third in the short program and left the ice to a rousing ovation.
“I would have to say that when I first got out there to skate for warmups I was a little shaky in the knees and I was a little nervous,” Frazier said. “I told myself when they called our names out, ‘Don’t think too much; just give everything you have and let your training take over.’ When we got done, the feeling of, ‘Wow, I can’t believe that happened.’ That was probably the best long we’ve ran and to do that at a competition I always wanted to compete at, was just an astounding feeling.”