Chan, Tuk­tamy­sheva strug­gle as Gold shines at Trophee Bom­pard

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

BORDEAUX: Gra­cie Gold stormed to the women’s lead at the Trophee Bom­pard on Fri­day with Ja­panese teenager Shoma Uno lead­ing the men as reign­ing world cham­pion El­iza­veta Tuk­tamy­sheva and Cana­dian star Pa­trick Chan both strug­gled. US sil­ver medal­ist Gold pulled out a near per­fect short pro­gram to the pop­u­lar Ar­gen­tinean tango mu­sic “El Cho­clo” to score a per­sonal best 73.32 points at the Me­ri­adeck ice rink. The 20-year-old im­proved her pre­vi­ous best by over two points to lead Rus­sian Ju­lia Lip­nit­skaya by 7.69 go­ing into the free skat­ing fi­nal in the fourth of the six-leg ISU Grand Prix se­ries. Gold is bid­ding to add to her sil­ver medal from Skate Amer­ica last month to book her ticket to the elite ISU Grand Prix fi­nal in Barcelona from De­cem­ber 10-13.

Reign­ing world and Euro­pean cham­pion Tuk­tamy­sheva, who had fin­ished sec­ond in her open­ing Grand Prix at Skate Canada this month, fell twice to trail in fifth (56.21). For­mer three-time world cham­pion Chan, who started off his sea­son by up­stag­ing Olympic cham­pion Yuzuru Hanyu to win Skate Canada, also pro­duced an er­ror-strewn per­for­mance to a Michael Bu­ble song, “Mack the Knife” to sit a dis­tant fifth 76.10 be­hind Uno. Uno, the reign­ing world ju­nior cham­pion, also scored a per­sonal best 89.56 points with Rus­sia’s Maxim Kov­tun third best with 86.82 ahead of Ja­pan’s Daisuke Mu­rakami 80.24.

Chan has won the Trophee Bom­pard four times, most re­cently in 2013 when the 24-year-old set per­sonal best scores in the short pro­gram and free skate, and the world record for free skate and com­bined to­tal that year. But the Olympic sil­ver medal­ist, re­turn­ing to com­pe­ti­tion af­ter a year off, was far from his best fail­ing in his at­tempt at an open­ing quadru­ple jump be­fore also stum­bling on his triple axel. Olympic cham­pi­ons Ta­tiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov of Rus­sia dom­i­nated the pairs event, scor­ing 74.50 in the short pro­gram to open up a nine point lead on France’s Vanessa James and Mor­gan CiprËs (65.75 points).

In ice danc­ing, Amer­i­cans Madi­son Hubbell and Zachary Dono­hue took the lead with 64.45. The Amer­i­can duo last sum­mer joined the Mon­treal-based dance cen­tre where world and Euro­pean cham­pi­ons Gabriella Papadakis and Guil­laume Cize­ron of France train. Papadakis was ruled out of the Trophee Bom­pard af­ter fresh fears over the head in­jury the French fig­ure skater suf­fered in Au­gust. The Mon­treal-based skater suf­fered panic at­tacks, de­pres­sion, mem­ory loss and dyslexia af­ter hit­ting her head on the ice dur­ing a train­ing ses­sion last Au­gust. The 20-year-old has un­der­gone treat­ment pi­o­neered for mem­bers of the mil­i­tary suf­fer­ing head trauma.—AFP BEL­GRADE: Met by cheers and a stand­ing ova­tion from supporters, a pro­fes­sional Ser­bian bas­ket­ball player has made an ex­tra­or­di­nary come­back to the court-two years af­ter los­ing her leg in a bus crash. Wear­ing a pros­thetic limb un­der black leg­gings, 21-year-old Natasa Ko­vace­vic scored five points to­wards Wed­nes­day night’s vic­tory by Red Star Bel­grade, the club with which she be­gan her ca­reer, in a re­turn to the game that she de­scribed as “sublime”. Many had be­lieved Ko­vace­vic’s ex­em­plary ca­reer was over when she was caught up in a deadly accident in Septem­ber 2013 while trav­el­ling with her Hun­gar­ian club, Gyor.

The club’s coach and gen­eral man­ager were killed, while se­ri­ously in­jured Ko­vace­vic had to have her leg amputated. But 26 months later, she has shown a level of re­silience that even her ri­vals ap­plaud. “I am over­whelmed to be back, the feel­ing on the ground was sublime. I feel as if I never left, as if two years has not gone by,” a smil­ing Ko­vace­vic said af­ter her team beat southern Ser­bian side Stu­dent Nis by 78-47. “I need to im­prove my fit­ness, if I’m hon­est I lost my breath a lit­tle, but I will work and it will come,” she said.

Spec­ta­tors pointed out that what she lacked through her dis­abil­ity, Ko­vace­vic made up for with her ex­pe­ri­ence in the game, de­spite her young age. The coach of the op­pos­ing team, Zvon­imir Stankovic, was no less ad­mir­ing. “What she has ac­com­plished, her per­se­ver­ance, de­serve ev­ery­one’s re­spect. We should all teach our chil­dren about her ex­am­ple,” he said. “From the mo­ment she en­tered the game, we treated her like any other player,” he added.

‘One wish’

Natasa was emerg­ing as one of the most tal­ented Ser­bian play­ers of her gen­er­a­tion-primed to play for her bas­ket­ball-mad coun­try in the EuroBas­ket cham­pi­onship this year-when tragedy struck. At time she was just 19. “From the be­gin­ning I have had one wish-to play bas­ket­ball again. Deep in­side my­self I am con­vinced that this day will come,” she told lo­cal me­dia af­ter the accident. Fol­low­ing the crash, the French Bas­ket­ball Fed­er­a­tion (FFBB) and its pres­i­dent Jean-Pierre Si­u­tat, who had been close to the de­ceased Hun­gar­ian coach Akos Fuzy, came to the young player’s res­cue.

Im­pressed by her will and courage, the FFBB helped to fi­nance the spe­cial pros­thetic leg that would al­low her to re­turn to the com­pe­ti­tion. In 2014, the In­ter­na­tional Bas­ket­ball Fed­er­a­tion (FIBA) made Ko­vace­vic an am­bas­sador for young peo­ple and she grad­u­ally re­sumed train­ing. She also cre­ated a foun­da­tion bear­ing her name that aims to help other young ath­letes. “My come­back is very im­por­tant to me, but I hope it shows other peo­ple that they can do any­thing they want if they have the will,” she said af­ter her tri­umphant re­turn.— AFP

BEL­GRADE: Ser­bian in­ter­na­tional bas­ket­ball player Natasa Ko­vace­vic plays with the ball dur­ing a match be­tween Red Star and Stu­dent in Bel­grade. —AFP

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