With an injured Yuna Kim pulling out of the Trohpee Eric Bompard in Paris, the stage was handed over to American Ashley Wagner as the favorite and the American delivered Friday, leading after the Ladies’ short program.
Scoring a 66.75, Wagner skated to a six-point lead over two Russian teenagers seen as her biggest challengers at the year’s fifth Grand Prix stop, with 15-year-old Anna Pogorilaya in second (60.03) and 17-year-old Adelina Sotnikova in third (60.01). American Christina Gao was fourth.
In ice dancing, reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir scored their season’s best on their way to a first-place finish after the short dance.
Home favorites Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat were in second while Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, fourth a week ago at NHK Trophy, placed third.
Virtue/Moir, the Canadians, looked more polished on the ice compared to their appearance at Skate Canada last month, where they scored a 73.15. Their 75.31 in Paris was just shy of the season high from Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who recorded a 75.70 at Skate America.
The two ice dance teams train alongside one another in Detroit year-round, as well as using the same coach. Davis/White were silver medalists behind the Canadians at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
Wagner didn’t make the 2010 Olympics, but continued to solidify herself as the front-runner for Team USA for the Sochi Games, which has three spots in Ladies’ singles. Judges marked her down for under-rotating her triple flip-triple toe combination to start, an element she’s made a personal goal to have ready for the Olympics.
Pogorilaya and Sotnikova went one-two at the Cup of China earlier this month. In the short program in Paris, however, both popped their dobule Axel attempts midway through their programs, opening the door for Wagner, who skated last, to build a lead.
Gao, who has been fifth at the last four U.S. Championships, was fourth at Skate Canada earlier this season and remains in striking distance of the podium in Paris with a 58.81, called for under-rotating her triple loop. None of the top four women fell on any of their jumps.
The Trophee Eric Bompard is the fifth of six Grand Prix events of the season, with the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow the remaining stop next week before December’s Grand Prix Final in December.
All four events – Men’s, Ladies’, pairs and ice dance – conclude Saturday in Paris.
— Kristi Yamaguchi (@kristiyamaguchi) November 15, 2013