Americans Claim Four Medals, Including Two Gold at 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America
(10/21/12) - Competition concluded Sunday at 2012 Hilton HHonors Skate America as Team USA claimed both of the gold medals of the afternoon in the ladies and ice dancing events from the ShoWare Center in Kent, Wash.
In a battle that came down to the very end, it was two Americans, Ashley Wagner and Christina Gao, who stole the show at Skate America as Wagner earned her first ever Grand Prix Series gold medal and Gao earned her first ever Grand Prix medal of any color, silver, in the ladies event.
Leading after the short program, Wagner watched her teammate earn a score that was more than eight points higher than her personal best to take the lead just two skaters before.
In a program which included six triple jumps and 11 elements that received positive GOEs, Wagner earned more points than she ever has in a Grand Prix Series free skate by more than 16. A 127.76-point effort in the free skate vaulted Wagner into the top spot by more than 14 points with a final total score of 188.37 points.
"Today went exactly as planned,"Wagner said. "I really fought for some of those jumps, but I was pleased with what I put out. For my first Grand Prix of the season, I was really happy with what I did.”
Gao, whose best finish in her two previous Grand Prix events was fifth, earned the silver medal. She received the second-best mark of the free skate. A full-time student at Harvard University, Gao, who has finished fifth at each of the last three U.S. Championships, finished second with a personal best 174.25 points overall.
"Today was obviously pretty awesome,"Gao said. "I felt really good about it. It's what I've been doing in practice every day. I told myself before I started to make it like practice. I did, and I got a medal, so I'm really happy.”
Rachael Flatt finished ninth with 136.09 points overall.
Meryl Davis & Charlie White did it again with an emotional free dance to music from Notre-Dame de Paris. The veteran team earned their third straight title at this event to open the season with a total score of 176.28 points. Always the perfectionists, Davis and White, while satisfied with the win in Kent, know there are improvements to be made.
"Charlie and I felt like our performances went quite well today. We had a couple little technical glitches here and there. We're definitely looking to get our technical scores much higher,"Davis said. "Overall, it was a good start to the season and we're on track to accomplishing our goals on the ice. We are thrilled with our performances and thrilled to perform them here at Skate America.”
They also noted the support they have received on their return trip to the Pacific Northwest, saying, "It was a great audience. We would like to thank everybody here in the Kent area for organizing everything and being so supportive.”
Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt enjoyed the best Grand Prix finish of their career, placing fourth with 141.41 points, while teammates Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus finished seventh in their Grand Prix debut.
Earning Team USA's first medal of the weekend, Caydee Denney & John Coughlin, in just their second season together, finished in third place in the pairs event Saturday night to earn their first medal together on the Grand Prix Series. The reigning U.S. champions earned a total of 178.22 points at the event.
After posting the top score in the short program, reigning World silver medalists Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov of Russia earned the gold medal after earning the top free skate score as well. They finished with 195.07 points overall. Reigning Olympic silver medalists Qing Pang & Jian Tong of China earned the silver medal with 185.16 points.
In their second Skate America appearance, Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir improved upon their placement from 2010 with a fifth-place finish, while Skate America and Grand Prix Series rookies Gretchen Donlan and Andrew Speroff finished sixth.
In the men's event reigning U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott was the top placing American as he finished in fifth place behind a Japanese medal sweep of Takahiko Kozuka, Yuzuru Hanyu and Tatsuki Machida. Americans Armin Mahbanoozadeh and Douglas Razzano finished seventh and ninth, respectively.
The competition wraps up on Sunday with the ice dancing free dance beginning at 2:40 p.m. (ET) and the ladies free skate at 4:15 p.m. (ET). The ladies free skate will be aired live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. ET.
For full event coverage, please visit icenetwork.com.