The 2015 Cup of China resumed Nov. 7 in Beijing with the second and final day of competitive figure skating by talented athletes from around the world. By day’s end, reigning world silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates of Team USA had earned their second spot of the season on a Grand Prix series podium as well as a berth in December’s prestigious Grand Prix Final in Barcelona.
A day after the 2014 Olympians and reigning US national champions placed second to one-time world title holders Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy in the short dance round, Chock and Bates held their position to claim the silver medal with a final mark of 169.16 to the Italian pair’s 173.30. Taking the bronze were Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin (159.00). The other American couple in the mix, Kaitlyn Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker, were forced to withdraw as Hawayek coped with a case of food poisoning.
Chock and Bates’ score was well-below their ISU personal best mark of 181.34, which they posted at worlds earlier in the year, but given their previous gold medal win at Skate America 2015, it was good enough to guarantee them a return ticket to the Grand Prix Final. They are the first ice dancing pair to qualify for the event.
Elsewhere in the competition, Japan’s Mao Asada continued her impressive comeback by winning gold in the ladies’ event over countrywoman Rika Hongo (197.48 to Hongo’s 195.76). Reigning Grand Prix Final silver medalist Elena Radionova of Russia climbed from sixth place to secure the bronze (184.28). The three American ladies –Karen Chen, Courtney Hicks, and Hannah Miller– placed fifth, sixth, and 10th.
On the men’s side, 2015 world title holder Javier Fernandez of Spain claimed won both the short and long programs to take the gold (270.55). A pair of Chinese men, Boyang Jin and Han Yan, earned silver and bronze on home turf. American Grant Hochstein narrowly missed the podium by placing fourth, while 2014 Cup of China bronze medalist Richard Dornbush finished seventh.
Finally, in the pairs competition, Russia’a Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov won the long program to take the gold by a slim margin over China’s Wenjing Sui and Cong Han (216.00 to 215.62). Xiaoyu Yu and Yang Jin, also of China, earned the bronze. Although the didn’t win the title, Sui and Han’s second place finish combined with a gold medal at Skate America secured them a spot in the Grand Prix Final. They are the first pairs skaters to advance.
The 2015-16 Grand Prix of Figure Skating series continues Nov. 13 in Bordeaux, France with the 2015 Trophee Eric Bompard. Americans scheduled to compete include Skate America winner Max Aaron, Skate America silver medalist Gracie Gold, Angela Wang, pairs skaters Marissa Castelli and Mervin Tran, and ice dancers Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.