Maia and Alex Shibutani won their second grand prix gold medal of the 2016 season with a victory Saturday at the Cup of China in Beijing, earning a spot in the six-team Grand Prix Final to be held Dec. 8-11 in Marseille, France.
Combined with their win in the grand prix season opener at Skate America, the 2014 Olympians now sit atop the grand prix standings with 30 points, vaulting ahead of three teams with 26 points: Russians Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev and Americans Madison Chock and Evans Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. All three American teams have qualified for the Grand Prix Final.
The Shibutanis will likely be joined atop the leaderboard by either reigning world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron of France or 2010 Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada after next week’s final grand prix stop, NHK Trophy.
Silver medalists at the 2016 world championships, the Shibutanis stood second after Friday’s short dance with 73.23 points, 0.55 behind Canada’s Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. A solid performance in Saturday’s free dance resulted in a score of 111.90, giving them a combined total of 185.13. The Canadians fell off the pace with a 107.76 in their free skate for a total of 181.54. The bronze medal was won by Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, who received a total of 177.41.
Other American skaters in Beijing did not fare as well. Max Aaron finished fourth in the men’s competition, 1.02 points away from a podium finish, with Ross Miner placing ninth. In the ladies’ division, 2016 worlds silver medalist and recent Skate America champion Ashley Wagner finished sixth, with Karen Chen and Courtney Hicks seventh and ninth, respectively. Jessica Pfund and Joshua Santillan placed eighth in pairs.