Plushenko and Slutskaya win Cup of Russia

Evgeni Plushenko won the Cup of Russia Grand Prix on Saturday with a free program that was off his best, but which allowed him to easily beat world champion Stephane Lambiel, who took the silver medal.

American skater Johnny Weir was third after missing two intended triples. Plushenko loaded the first part of his program with jumps, completing nine before moving on to other rated elements. While that emphasized his athleticism at the expense of artistry in the opening minutes, his later moves earned him the competition's highest program-elements score of 82.10.

His sit spin, however, was not tight and he did not stretch his leg to his head, once a trademark move, apparently reflecting some lingering effects of the groin surgery he underwent earlier this year.

Lambiel's planned program was more technically ambitious than Plushenko's and he did two quads against the Russian's one. But his chances of overtaking Plushenko evaporated in the first minute after he fell on his opening triple axel and stepped out of his first quad.

World champion Irina Slutskaya won the women's event with a personal-best free program score. Slutskaya's final score of 198.06 was more than 25 points ahead of second-place Miki Ando of Japan. Yoshie Onda of Japan won the bronze, 55 points behind Slutskaya.

The current world champion did not do the second part of her planned opening triple lutz-double loop combination, but compensated with a triple-triple-double cascade, adding a rotation to the planned double loop in the middle.

Ando carried off her opening triple lutz-triple loop combination, but stepped out of her subsequent triple salchow and landed a double axel uneasily. Slutskaya landed all her jumps with assurance and had a dramatic entrance into a flying camel spin early in the program.

Emily Hughes of the United States was fifth, behind Finland's Susanna Poykio. Pairs world champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin registered their personal best in the free program to win gold. Their only serious flaw in the program to music from "Romeo and Juliet" was getting out of synch on a series of combination spins.

However, their triple twist was high and strong and Totmianina's landings on throws were light and clean. Totmianina said they want to refine the program further "to show more of the romantic relationship."

Fellow Russians Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov finished second, more than 20 points behind. Obertas doubled a planned triple toe loop and they both skipped the second triple that was to follow in combination.

World champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia stayed atop the ice dancing field after Saturday's original dance. Israel's Galit Chair and Sergei Sakhnovski were second, followed by Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, AP reports.

A. A.

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