Ladies Qualifying Round

by Alexandra Stevenson

Ten Ladies and seven Ice Dance couples were given their walking papers on Tuesday, unceremoniously thrown out of the Worlds. The ISU pays in full for rooms for competitors taking part in the main championships (which stops after the Short Program if they donít get through to the Free.) The charge for those trying to make the championships through the qualifying rounds is shared 50/50 between the ISU and the competitorsí national championship and that stopped for those who didnít get into the top 16 (Ladies) or top ten (Ice Dance) of their respective Preliminary Rounds.

However, the main interest in Moscow is in how Olympic champions Koreaís Yu-na Kim and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir looked in practice. Kim, who has earned the three best womenís scores in competition, dethroned Japanís Mao Asada for the world title in 2009.

Kim will skate her Short Program to ballet music from Giselle and her Free to an amalgam of her own countryís folk music. She is definitely an unknown factor because she hasnít competed since Asada eclipsed her and took back the world title a few weeks after Asada won the silver in the Vancouver Games. Kim subsequently left her coach, Canadian twice Olympic silver medalist, Brian Orser, and has been taught since then by Californian, Peter Oppegard, but has not competed at all this season.

Kim and Asada have been rivals since the Korean displaced Asada for the world junior title in 2006 when they were both a few months too young to compete in that yearís Olympics. However, in the recent Four Continents Championships, Miki Ando, the 2007 world champion, performed brilliantly earning over 200 points and completely eclipsing Asada, who finished second. Ando did not show for Tuesday nightís practice.

Kim is a spokesperson for the Korean bid for the 2018 Olympics. The site will be decided this July. Pyeongchang lost out by a small margin to both Vancouver and Sochi, in the bid to host the 2010 and 2014 Games.

Meanwhile Virtue and Moir won wining kudos from skating family watching Tuesdayís Free practice.

They won the Short Dance in their only competition this season, the Four Continents championships in February in Chinese Taipei, but were forced to withdraw shortly after the start of their Free, which is set to South American music.

In related news, 1992 Olympic silver medalist Midori Ito is back on the ice. The 41 year old 1989 world champion, who was first woman to land a triple Axel in ISU competition, is making a comeback of sorts and will take part in the Adult Championships in Oberstdorf in German in June. She retired after winning her Games medal but came back for the 1996 season, finishing 7th in the Edmonton Worlds, where she looked anorexic and finished only 7th.

Yuzuru Hanyu, the first reserve for the Japanese world team, 2010 world junior champion, and silver medalist at the 2011 Four Continents Championship has revealed he was training on the ice in Sendai, his hometown where he was born in 1994, when the 9.0 earthquake hit on March 11. "I just tried to stay on my feet. As soon as the big quake stopped, I ran out of the building in my skating boots. I had no time to put on the blade covers, so my blades were damaged. I was terrified of the natural disaster."

LADIES PRELIMINARY

Mať-Bťrťnice Meitť was a clear winner with 98.88 points, 7.10 ahead of the second placed Joshi Helgesson despite the Swede earning 0.88 more than the French woman on the component score.

Meitť, 16, performed a Flamenco routine, opening with a triple loop to double toe. Later, she repeated the triple loop and executed a triple Lutz to double toe and a triple toe loop to double Axel sequence. However, she received a negative score on both her first triple Lutz (-0.70) and triple flip (-1.40). Meitť, who is competing in her first Worlds, said, "This is the biggest competition of my career. Iím pleased despite the error on the triple flip (for which she earned all -2s GoEs except for one -3). The rhythm wasnít right and so I couldnít land it cleanly." She has competed in the French senior championships for the past four seasons, placing 5th, 2nd, 2nd, and 3rd. Her last two elements, both spins, earned Level 4. The earlier layback spin and her circular steps got Level 3.

Second, third and fourth were practically tied. Helgesson, 17, who has been the runner-up for the Swedish title for the past two years to her older sister, Viktoria, began well with a triple Lutz to double toe and a triple loop, and received a slight positive (0.17) for her last triple, a Salchow. However, she fell on her second triple Lutz and the other triples, a toe loop and a second Lutz were flawed. However, the Salchow and sequence of two double Axels at the end was good.

She said, "Iím happy with parts of my free skate. Itís really fun competing with my sister. We feel positive about it. Weíre pushing each other each other to get better results." Two of her spins were Level 4. The change foot combination spin, which was her final element, and the straight line steps, were Level 3.

Sonia Lafuente of Spain was third, only 0.53 behind Helgesson. She said, "It was hard because the ice is harder compared to my home rink in Madrid." All of her 12 elements received the base value or better. But she presented only four triples, a flip, two loops with the second with attached to a toe loop, and a triple toe to double toe. She received no Level 4. Her circular steps and two of her spins were given Level 3 but the flying camel was only Level 2. Lafuente finished 20th last year in these championships.

Ina Vannut of Belgium was fourth, with 90.29, only 0.88 behind Lafuente. The 16 year old is competing in her first World (Senior) championship and finished seventh in her first Europeans after winning the qualification round in that event ahead of Meitť. She began with a +0.70 triple Lutz to double toe followed by a base value second triple Lutz. Her triple loop to double loop was good. However, her triple flip received an "e" for wrong edge take-off and she fell on her first double Axel. A second try at a double Axel was good and she combined it with a double toe and double loop.

"Itís a very special time for me," Vannut said. "Iím actually in very good condition. I was a little nervous but this was a positive kind of stress. I donít know why I was tired and fell on the first double Axel."

Amelie Lacoste of Canada was fifth, with 87.04, 3.25 points behind Vannut. The 22 year old from Delson, Quebec, was the national bronze medalist in 2009 and 2011, and was competing as a last minute replacement for Myriam Samson. Skating to Rimski Korsakovís Sheherazade, she completed a triple loop to double loop and a triple toe loop to double toe loop, but her opening sequence of two double Axels, her first triple toe loop and a triple Salchow were all flawed. Two of her spins were Level 4. The layback spin was Level 3 as were her straight line steps. Her double Lutz received an "e" for wrong edge.

She admitted, "It wasnít a good program although I tried to stay focused all the way through to the end. My goal was to be in the top three, but Iím just happy to make it to the real competition. Now Iíve broken the ice. Being at Worlds is a dream come true."

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