Canadians show improvement in free skates at Cup of China

BEIJING – Lubov Ilyushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch of Toronto took seventh spot in pairs on Saturday to conclude the Cup of China, the third stop on the ISU Grand Prix figure skating circuit.

Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia finished ahead of three Chinese pairs for the gold medal. Wenjing Sui and Cong Han of China were second and their compatriots Xiaoyu and Yang Jin third.

Ilyushechkina and Moscovitch were competing at their first Grand Prix together since joining forces in 2014.

‘’It wasn’t the skates we were hoping for,’’ said Moscovitch. ‘’But it is just the beginning of the season and there is still a lot of work to be done. Today we upped our speed and our twist in the short was definitely a step up. We just need to get more mileage in.’’

Vanessa Grenier of Johnville, Que., and Maxime Deschamps of Vaudreuil-Dorion, Que., posted a personal best score in the short program, free program and overall score at 159.34 for eighth place.

‘’It was a very good competition for us,’’ said Deschamps. ‘’We really improved our artistic score which has been something we’ve really worked on this season. It was nice to comeback after Skate Canada last week because we didn’t perform at our best there.’’

In men’s competition, Javier Fernandez of Spain took the gold while Chinese skaters Boyang Jin and Han Yan were second and third.  Elladj Baldé of Pierrefonds, Que., took 11th spot.  A flu bug has affected Baldé’s training since he won the gold medal in September at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany.

‘’It was a difficult evening but better than the short,’’ said Baldé. ‘’But I couldn’t get any rhythm in my training since my victory. I was happy to come back here but you could see today in the second half of my free skate, the fatigue starting to set it.’’

The fourth stop on the circuit is this Friday and Saturday in Bordeaux, France.

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