Lipnitskaia win a giant step toward Sochi
Julia Lipnitskaia of Russia skates during the ladies free program at the ISU GP 2013 Skate Canada International at Harbour Station on October 26, 2013 in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
With the 2014 Olympic Games just over 100 days off, the diminutive 2012 world junior champion’s success should bolster her country’s hopes for a medal on home soil in Sochi.
Scoring 131.34 for her free program set to the haunting strains of "Schindler’s List" and 198.23 in total, the 15-year-old Lipnitskaia overtook overnight leader Gracie Gold of the United States, who slipped to third with 117.20 in the final, 186.65 overall.
The silver medal belonged to Japanese veteran Akiko Suzuki, who also brought the cheering fans to their feet with her emotionally riveting routine set to "Phantom of the Opera".
Suzuki collected 127.99 points for her finale, for a total of 193.75.
Lipnitskaia and Suzuki both succeeded in landing seven triple jumps, but Lipnitskaia showed the most difficult combinations including a fabulous triple lutz-triple toe to open.
Gold, 18, knocked off four triple jumps at the outset of her Sleeping Beauty-themed program but faded in the later going, falling on a triple lutz and stepping out of an under-rotated triple salchow.
"I never really think about winning because you have to keep working, there is always more you can do," Lipnitskaia said. "But I’m very happy everything worked out."
Suzuki said her choice of music for the Olympic season, her last as a competitor, was a difficult one. She wasn't sure Phantom was right for her until she experienced the crowd's reaction to her performance on Saturday.
This was the third Skate Canada silver medal for Suzuki,28. She pointed out that each time she finished second, the event was won by a young up-and-coming competitor.
Suzuki and Gold will compete against each other again in Tokyo at the NHK Trophy in two weeks.
Lipnitskaia will only have a few days to recharge as she is slated to compete in six days in Beijing.
Upset pairs win for Italians
Earlier Saturday, Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek claimed Italy’s first Grand Prix pairs gold in an upset that saw Canada’s world bronze medallists Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford settle for bronze.
Berton and Hotarek, fifth last week at Skate America and traditional 10th- or 11th-place finishers at the world championships, posted a total of 193.92 points to edge China's Sui Wenjing and Han Cong by just .15 points.
The Canadians scored 190.62, losing the victory when a loss of balance forced them to abort one of their lifts and forfeit about eight points.
In the final, the Italians earned 124.54 behind the 124.75 for the Chinese. Berton and Hotarek’s miniscule 36-hundredths of a point lead on Sui and Han after the short secured them the victory.
The Italians seemed almost reluctant to celebrate their win.
"We don’t want to sound too happy because we know they (the Canadians) didn’t skate their best. But I’m happy, of course," Berton said.
Hotarek added, "It’s a big surprise for us. We just wanted to do our best and today we had a little bit of luck."
Duhamel and Radford compete next at Trophee Bompard in Paris in three weeks, while the Chinese head to Tokyo.
Sui and Han wowed the crowd with a rarely seen quadruple twist lift. Han said they are considering adding a quadruple throw jump in Japan.
Skate Canada is the second of six stops on the ISU Figure Skating Grand Prix circuit which culminates with the Final for the top six performers in each discipline.
That event in Fukuoka, Japan, will serve as a preview of the contenders for the 2014 Olympic podium in Sochi.