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Tuktamisheva wins Skate Canada gold; Canada's Lacoste sixth

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The Canadian Press
10/29/2011 7:18:55 PM
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MISSISSAUGA, Ont. -- Elizaveta Tuktamisheva is the youngest women's singles gold medallist at Skate Canada International in 30 years.

The 14-year-old Russian was victorious at Canada's annual senior Grand Prix figure skating event Saturday after winning the short program the day before.

Canada's Tracey Wainman was 13 when she won in 1981 in Ottawa.

Tuktamisheva won the short program Friday and wound up with 177.38 overall points after finishing second to Japan's Akiko Suzuki in the free skating Saturday. Suzuki, 26, who was fourth in the short, scored 172.26 overall.

It was Tuktamisheva's first senior Grand Prix appearance.

"I didn't feel a big difference," she said through an interpreter when asked about stepping up from junior. "I try not to think of the importance of the competition."

Ashley Wagner, 20, of the United States was third in the free and third overall with 165.48.

Amelie Lacoste, 22, of Delson, Que., was sixth with 146.40 and Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf, 23, of Brossard, Que., was seventh with 140.70.

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Russia won pairs gold with a 201.38 overall score by topping the standings in both the short and long programs. Sui Wenjing and Han Cong of China, who had been fourth after the short, were second in the free and wound up with silver with 180.82.

Meagan Duhamel of Lively, Ont., and Eric Radford of Toronto won bronze with 174.84. They were second in the short and third in the free.

The International Skating Union, meanwhile, is allowing Tuktamisheva to compete at the highest level this season even though she won't be eligible to skate for the senior world championship until 2013. Her composure belies her age. By 2014 in Sochi, Russia, she hopes to skate for Olympic gold.

"I'm trying not to show everything that is inside," she said. "Even if I'm nervous, I try to hide it. I try to approach everything calmly. There is pressure but I try not to pay attention to that too much.

"I just try to do my job."

Her technical elements were solid -- she's an excellent jumper -- and she displayed an artistic flair beyond the grasp of most of the older skaters.

Suzuki moved up from being fourth after the short program thanks to a polished long skate to classical music. She was 11th at the 2010 world championship but didn't make the 2011 team after finishing fourth at her nationals.

"I am trying to improve step by step," she said through an interpreter.

Wagner's only world championship appearance was in 2008 when she was 16th. She was sixth at the 2011 U.S. nationals. She showed at this meet that she's well on the way back to prominence.

"I was so happy with what I put out," she said. "I was very satisfied, with the exception my Lutz."

She fell on a Lutz midway through her program -- the jump has been a hard one for her to land as she's been suffering with tendinitis in the landing foot -- but everything else was impressive in her "Black Swan" routine.

Lacoste was third in Canada and 16th in the world last season so finishing ahead of Phaneuf, who was 13th in the world, was important as she aims to win the national title this season. Lacoste went around only twice on a scheduled triple Lutz, once on a planned triple flip and twice on a planned triple Salchow.

"I'm disappointed because I missed three big jumps," she said. "I'm usually doing at least five triples in my program. I wasn't my best but it was a good experience and it's just the start of the season."

Phaneuf crashed to the ice trying to land a triple loop and doubled out on two other planned triples. She had opened her program with a triple Lutz, which is the jump that has troubled her the most.

"I wanted to go out there and land the triple Lutz and I was able to do it so easily," she said. "Then I thought about not making any mistakes, but I just didn't attack enough."

A hip injury has interrupted her training schedule.

"I wasn't putting too much pressure on myself coming here," she said.

Rachael Flatt, No. 2 in the U.S. and 12th in the world, had the worst skate of the day. She fell twice. She was third after the short program but was last in the long and last overall among 10.

"That performance can be attributed to not being quite trained yet and not having that confidence in my training and my long so far," said the 19-year-old. "I need to trust my training a bit more and rely on my experience more. I am a seasoned competitor. That, unfortunately, didn't show in my skating here. I'll learn from it and move on. We all have tough performances, and that was pretty tough. I'll be better."

Teammate Mirai Nagasu, 18 and No. 3 in the U.S., finished fifth.

Adriana Desanctis of Barrie, Ont., No. 5 in Canada, finished ninth.

Elizaveta Tuktamisheva  (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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