Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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Japan's Tatsuki Machida Wins Skate America

Machida scored 91.18 points to open the men's competition in the first ISU Grand Prix event of the season

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    Tatsuki Machida, of Japan, performs his first place routine in the men short program at the Skate America figure skating competition in Detroit, Friday, Oct. 18, 2013.

    Japan's Tatsuki Machida edged American Adam Rippon for the Skate America men's title Saturday night, and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White topped the ice dance competition for the fourth straight year.

    Machida and Davis and White entered the free skates in first place after dominating short programs. They kept it up in the free skate, with Machida totaling 265.38 points and Davis and White 188.23.

    Rippon finished at 241.24, and American Max Aaron fell was third at 238.36.

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    In dance, Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy were second with 168.49, and the American brother-sister duo of Maia and Alex Shibutani followed at 154.47.

    Earlier, Mao Asada topped Ashley Wagner to win the women's short program, and Russian pairs Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov set a short program world record.

    Machida's win was significant because he beat his better-known countrymen, 2012 Skate America champion Takahiko Kozuka and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist Daisuke Takahashi.

    "This is my third competition of the season, but my first major one, so I was very nervous," Machida said. "I don't think I am strong enough to make it to the Olympic team yet, I do not have enough going yet. I am going to work, and my goal will be to make the Olympic team this season."

    In dance, 2013 world champions Davis and White delivered a captivating and passionate performance, to "Scheherzade" by Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov. Every move seemed effortless, from their unique lifts and unison twizzles, to the intricate choreography.

    Davis and White, who grew up and still train in the Detroit area, received a standing ovation. They scored 112.53 for their free dance, nearly 13 more than Cappellini and Lanotte.

    "We are pleased with our skate," White said. "I think we are really happy with what we were able to put out there — it was one of our best performances. That was fun."

    Asada skated cleanly and had 73.18 points. Wagner, the defending Skate America champion from the U.S., was next at 68.26. Elena Radinova of Russia, who is 14 and the reigning world junior champion, was third at 67.01. The long program is Sunday night.

    Volosozhar and Trankov, the reigning world champions and favored to dominate the Olympic season, scored 83.05 points. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch of Canada were second at 71.51. Russians Ksneia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov were third at 64.80.

    This marked the second straight competition where Volosozhar and Trankov, the reigning Skate America champions, set a short program world record. Their previous record, 81.65, was set last month en route to winning the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

    Their Skate America performance, to "Masquerade Waltz" by Aram Khatchaturian, was a crisp display of big throws and lifts, unison spins and a triple toe loop, and sophisticated interpretation. The crowd gave the Russians a one-minute standing ovation.

    "We don't care so much about the world record," Trankov said. "We care more about our personal record, about our season's best, about our skating.

    "It's our pleasure to skate well and to have the audience love it. When people stand up out of their seats, and are very loud and clap their hands, we feel it. It is more important thing than the scores."

    Asada's high-technical program had a pleasing, quiet flow.

    "For the past few years, I was not able to perform my best at the first Grand Prix, so I was very happy I was reasonably able to perform a very good performance," Asada said through a translator. "I think it is a very good start for the season."

    Wagner gave a steady performance that revealed her offseason work to improve her difficulty level. Her more mature short program, to Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," opened at Skate America with a leadoff successful triple flip-triple toe.

    "I was actually pretty terrified because it's a high-risk element for me," Wagner said. "Before I went out there, Rafael (Arutunian) told me, 'Just go do it, go skate the flip-toe, do it like you know how to.' And I just kind of turned the rest off and went into autopilot for the flip-toe and performed it like the way I had in practice. I'm happy with that."

    While Asada and Wagner both impressed, the buzz from the short program belonged to Radinova. She is Skate America's youngest competitor, and many wondered how she would handle the pressure of the season's first Grand Prix event.

    She answered the questions quickly, delivering a clean and confident performance. Radionova is the reigning world junior champion, and dominated the senior-level Nebelhorn Trophy last month. But she is ineligible for the Sochi Olympics because of her age.