Daisuke Takahashi wins in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Japan's Daisuke Takahashi was shaky with some of his jumps and even fell once but still edged countryman Nobunari Oda to win the Skate America men's title Saturday night.
In the pairs competition, Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of Germany nailed their opening throw and performed impeccably from there in the free skate for the gold medal.
Takahashi, the reigning world champion and bronze medalist in the Vancouver Games, rebounded from his errors with sheer artistry for a final score of 227.07. Oda, who fell on his opening quad and added an extra combination that wasn't allowed, finished with at 226.09.
"I didn't know how many," Oda said. "I just did too much."
American Armin Mahbanoozadeh landed two triple axels and finished his skate to music from "Avatar" with a dramatic spin that put fans on their feet and earned him a 211.17 and the bronze. The routine was one of the cleanest of the night.
"It went better than I could have hoped for," Mahbanoozadeh said. "I'm just ecstatic right now."
Adam Rippon, considered the top American in the field going in, bailed out of an early jump and fell on another to settle for a fourth-place finish. He was clearly unhappy with his skate, shaking his head to coach Brian Orser after coming off the ice.
Japan's Daisuke Murakami fell once, but he turned in a great overall performance to music from "Lawrence of Arabia" that points to a bright future. He was thrilled with his final score 203, gasping in surprise when it was announced.
Someone in the crowd brought Canadian Shawn Sawyer a Mad Hatter's hat, in celebration of his spirited free skate to Danny Elfman's "Alice in Wonderland." American Stephen Carriere's pants ripped at the knee when he fell on a quad toeloop attempt. He also came off the ice with a bloodied hand.
Belgium's Kevin Van Der Perret landed his quad toeloop and came out atop the first group of skaters.
Savchenko was dressed in neon pink for the free skate with Szolkowy to the strains of the "Pink Panther" soundtrack. The duo scored a combined 197.70 for the gold.
"We wanted to do something new," Savchenko said about the routine.
Canadians Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch made a few mistakes but still charmed with dramatic lifts in their program to "Les Miserables," earning them the silver with a final score of 175.48.
Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China skated with their trademark enthusiasm, finishing with a 170.07. While awaiting their scores, a fan handed a stuffed panda to the duo that was almost as big as tiny Wenjing.
Americans Caybee Denney and Jeremy Barrett, dressed in blue and skating to Gershwin, couldn't catch the young pair from China after Denney fell on a throw triple loop.
On the women's side, three-time European champion Carolina Kostner skated with elegance and ease to lead after the short program.
The Italian won the NHK Trophy in Tokyo last month, but she was battling a knee injury that limited her. If she was still bothered by her knee in Portland it didn't show. Wearing a blue and black lace dress with a red flower in her hair, Kostner beguiled with her footwork to flamenco music and scored 60.28 points.
She said she wanted to start out with a triple combination, but did not pull it off.
"I skated clean," she said, "But it's hard to feel satisfied."
She was challenged by 16-year-old Kanako Murakami of Japan, who wore a black dress with pink polka-dots for her lively program to '50s-inspired rock and roll. The 16-year-old sprite was not only solid, she managed to ham it up, too, and was clearly the fan favorite at the Rose Garden.
Murakami earned a 54.75. Sweden's Joshi Helgesson was third at 51.17.
"This is the best short program I've done all season, so I'm happy to be here," said Helgesson, who had a big triple lutz in combination to open her short program.
American Rachael Flatt, sporting her more mature blond hairdo and a tasteful teal dress, was the NHK Trophy silver medalist. But her performance to "Summertime" did not impress, and she scored a 51.02.
Fellow American Alexe Gilles, resplendent in light blue, nailed a triple toe loop combination, but fell on a triple lutz. Canadian Amelie Lacoste finished atop the first group, but was visibly unhappy with her performance with its messy triple lutz.
Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia was a surprise because of her newly blond hair.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the silver medalists at the Vancouver Olympics, led after the ice dance short program despite White's fall on a twizzle sequence. They had a score of 63.62.
"'Don't fall' is always a good thing to remember," Davis kidded.
Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier followed with a 60.41, and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, also of Canada, scored a season-best 59.48.
Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press
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