Japan's Hongo takes Rostelecom gold
MOSCOW (AP) The wait was a little hard for Javier Fernandez as the last man to get on the ice at the Rostelecom Cup, but he overcame it to win his second Grand Prix gold medal on Saturday.
As the leader after the short program, the Spaniard had to worry about seeing strong free skate performances from Sergei Voronov and Michal Brezina and about losing the sharpness from his warmup.
''When I got onto the ice, (my) legs were not the same after waiting for a long time,'' he said.
His confident opening quad toe loop gave no hint of concerns, though he stepped out of his following quad salchow and put his hand to the ice on a third quad attempt. But his exuberant skating to strains of The Barber of Seville ended with him 13 points ahead of Voronov.
Brezina nailed a quad-double combination early on that helped power the Czech skater to bronze, aided by the falls and popped jumps that dropped Japan's Takahiko Kozuka from third place to sixth.
In the women's event, Rika Hongo of Japan hit every jump she aimed for to win gold, her first medal of any color in the Grand Prix series.
Her free skate to music from the opera Carmen featured seven triples including an opening flip-toe loop combination. At age 18 and in her first year in seniors competition, such an accomplished performance could raise the temptation to fancy being the next big thing in Japan's long line of standout skaters, but Hongo said she isn't ready to think that way.
''I really haven't thought about that,'' she said. ''I am trying hard to get closer to skaters like Mao Asada.''
In pairs, Russians swept the podium.
Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov won with a dramatic and taxing free skate to Notre Dame de Paris music, followed by Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov and the duo of Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov.
Americans Haven Denney and Brandon Frazier earned the second-highest free program marks, but ended just 0.01 points short of a medal.
Stolbova's and Klimov's free skate ended on a daring and dramatic note with a big throw triple in the final seconds when most skaters are too tired to be so ambitious.
''It's quite hard, but Ksenia does this element very well. We put it in because we know we can do it,'' Klimov said.
Anna Pogorilaya of Russia, who won at Skate Canada two weeks ago, took silver in the women's event despite a troubled program in which her hand went to the ice on three jumps.
She suggested she may be experiencing the opposite of a home advantage, noting that she generally performs better abroad.
''I felt some kind of pressure ... I can't really fathom it,'' she said.
Canada's Alaine Chartrand, who was in first place after the short program, dropped to bronze with a free skate where several jumps were underrotated.
''I felt really uptight and the skating wasn't as good as I wanted it to be,'' she said. ''Mostly the biggest errors were the landings on the jumps.''
Megan Chock and Evan Bates of the United States took gold in ice dance, followed by Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhinganshin of Russia and Britain's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland.
It was the Americans' second Grand Prix gold of the season and ''looking back on Skate America, this was a step forward,'' Bates said of their free dance to An American in Paris. ''Emotionally it felt better.''