2011 Ladies Event

by Alexandra Stevenson

Miki Ando recaptures world crown after four years. No other woman has rebounded after such a long period;
Despite errors, Olympic and 2009 world champion Yu-na Kim repeats as silver medalist after not competing for the whole year; donates her $27,000 prize money to UNICEF to help children affected by Japanese earthquake;
Carolina Kostner of Italy, silver medalist in Worlds in 2008, matches bronze which she won in Moscow in 2005;

1.Overall 195.79; 2.SP 65.58 (34.20+31.38); 1.FS 130.21 (65.75+64.46) Miki Ando, Japan, drew to skate her SP first of the top six, immediately after the warm-up and perfectly interpreted Gabrielís Oboe from The Mission soundtrack by Ennio Morricone, performed by Yo-Yo Ma, acing all seven elements, including a superb triple Lutz to double loop.

The 23-year-old said, "I was really nervous because when I have skated first in the group (which is disliked by some because the skater can not train full out for the given six minutes and still be fresh for the beginning of the routine), something bad has happened. When I was coming out on the ice, I remembered that. I skated pretty well even though I am not satisfied with my spins (which all received the maximum Level 4). I wanted to do my triple Lutz-triple toe. It was really good a few weeks ago, but after that I had a problem with my mind and it wasnít good anymore. So I decided to do the triple-double. It is less risky and it is important in the SP to do well and collect as many points as possible."

She performed all seven elements flawlessly. Her combination was rock solid, with the double toe loop attached to the triple Lutz a good size, instead of just being tacked on. Her triple loop was very secure and the double Axel solid. All three spins were the maximum Level 4 and her steps a good Level 3. Sixty two of her Grades of Execution were either +1 or +2. One judge, however, gave her a solitary 0 for her last element, the layback spin. Incredibly, considering Kim had an error, Ando was only 1.23 points ahead of Kim on the elements score and, because the Korean was 1.56 points ahead of her on the components, Kim took the lead by 0.33.

Ando again drew to skate first in the last warm-up group for the FS. Her four minute ten seconds, set to Griegís famous Piano Concerto in A Minor, also began with a solid triple Lutz to high double loop (+1.10) and a triple loop (although this one was noisily landed and gathered only +0.40 over the base value). Again, her three spins were all Level 4 and her straight line steps were Level 3. Her only fault was at the half way point when she tried a double Axel to triple toe combination and messed up the second jump. In the second half she executed a second triple Lutz (+0.90), a triple Salchow (+0.80), a triple toe loop (+1.0) and a double Axel to two double toes (+0.50).

Ando did not post an over 200 score as she had when winning the Four Continents Championship in February, but she was a very worthy champion overtaking Korea's Yuna Kim who appeared somewhat over-marked in the SP. Only 0.33 separated them in the initial section and they were a solid four points ahead of the third and fourth placed Ksenia Makarova and Alissa Czisny who also were exceptionally close - only 0.15 points apart.

Smiling afterwards, Ando said, "I was just happy with my skating because I was skating for Japan. I never care about results, but Iím really happy to have a gold medal this time."

Ando was asked the difference between winning the title in Tokyo in 2007 and in Moscow. She said, "Four years ago, I didnít expect to medal because I didnít skate for two weeks before the event because of injury. I just did the best I could. The big difference is this time I had some idea that I had a chance for the gold. I became a stronger skater than I was in 2007. I didnít perform perfectly today. I had small mistakes on my double Axel to triple toe and I didnít have enough speed."

She is the only woman credited with landing a quad jump, a Salchow, which she performed in 2002 in the Junior Grand Prix Final in Holland. "I was still a kid then and it came easy to me. As I grew, it became more difficult. But Iíd like to do it again in the future. I have been landing triple-triple-triple combinations in practice but it is still too risky to put them in competition."

Asked about performing after the tragedy in her home country, she said, "I think Japan needs some enjoyment to make them smile again. Figure skating is very popular there and many people watch it on television so I hope my performance has given them something to take their mind off the problems, even if it was just for a moment."

About her coach, Nikolai Morosov, she said, "Weíve worked such a long time together that now we donít even have to talk. We know what each other is thinking. Before a competition, he just says, ĎBelieve in yourself. Believe in the work we have done. Just take it one element at a time. And the most important thing is to enjoy the skating.í Of course we have good times and bad. We fight, we cry, and we laugh together. For me, heís the best coach in the world." They work together in New Jersey, although this past summer they were in Russia and Lithuanian. "I consider Russia as a second home," she said delighting the locals.

All the Japanese skaters in Moscow wore black ribbons pinned to the shoulder of their warm-up jackets and navy blue stickers which read, Rebirth Japan.

2.Overall 194.50; 1.SP 65.91 (32.97+32.94); 2.FS 128.59 (61.72+66.87) Yu-na Kim, Korea, came into this championship as an unknown factor. She had not competed since last yearís worlds when, just weeks after winning the Olympic gold in brilliant fashion with record breaking scores, she lost her world title to Mao Asada. She and Mao have been close rivals since 2005 when they were the world junior champion (Asada) and silver medalist (Kim). The following year, when both were a few months too young to compete in the Olympics (they are both still only 20 with birthdays in September), Kim took that title away from Asada. Both have since won the world senior title, Asada in 2008 & 2010, and Kim in 2009, but in Moscow this year Asada did not provide a realistic challenge.

Kim drew to skate her SP 30th, the last of those allowed into this section. Dressed in black, she performed to dramatic music from the ballet Giselle playing a peasant girl, who commits suicide after being betrayed by a Prince. She is condemned to become a spirit, leading men to their death but saves the unfaithful Prince from that fate. "David Wilson choreographed the routine and I have to show lots of emotion," Kim explained.

"I have been doing a lot of clean short programs in practice, and my warm-up was perfect," the 20-year-old said. "But I stepped out of the triple Lutz (meant to be her combination)." The move was penalized with -1.5 off its base value of 6 points. Thinking on her feet, she added the missing double toe jump to her subsequent triple flip and got good marks (+0.90 GoE). Her double Axel was solid and rewarded with a full point added to its base value and her three spins were the maximum Level 4. Her straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.93. Despite the error she gained first place, just 0.33 ahead of Ando, who lay second.

Kim still holds the worldís best score for a SP, when she earned 78.50 at the Olympics. Since then the rules changed for this season reducing the number of required elements to seven instead of eight, so scores now are significantly lower. Kim had set the best SP score four times. In the SP in Worlds 2007 she gained an unprecedented 71.95 points, although she was only third overall. She advanced that mark to 72.24 at the 2009 Four Continents Championship, and then to 76.12 in the Worlds in 2009 which she won, and once more to 76.28, at the 2009 Skate America, before achieving the Vancouver score.

After the SP in Moscow, Kim confessed, "Iím disappointed but Iím still in first place and Iím happy with that. I already achieved my goals when I became the Olympic (2010) and World champion (2009). Now I want to show character and new programs to my fans. After the Olympic season, I was thinking about whether I would go back to competition or not. Physically, I was ready, but mentally I was not. For me, it was the hardest thing to decide. It didnít take long to build up my stamina again. Physically it was not so hard, but mentally it was very difficult. I kept thinking, ĎWhy do I have to do that?í But when the time came, I was ready for it. I must admit that I was a little nervous. Because of the mistake, I didnít know what my score would be and I didnít know how my competitors had done.

Her FS was to a selection of Korean folk music, including the extremely well known, Arirang, which is considered by some as the unofficial national anthem. It was not as jarring to Westernersí ears as is some Oriental music. Her choreographer David Wilson had chosen well. "We had talked about using Korean music before, but I thought now was the right time for it."

Skating 21st of the 24 who progressed into the FS, Kim opened with an extremely impressive triple Lutz to triple toe. Three judges punched in +3, the maximum GoE, and all but one of the other six officials gave +2. (The exception still thought the move was above average, but only gave +1.) The elementís total score was 11.70 points.

Then she faltered. She executed a triple Salchow to single (instead of double) toe loop and popped (to a single) her triple flip. However, she immediately got back her concentration, showing off her grace in a lovely Level 4 layback spin. Her other spins were also Level 4 and the straight line steps Level 3. The rest of her jumps, double Axel to double toe to double loop, second triple Lutz, triple Salchow and a double Axel, came after the halfway point when the 10% bonus clicks in.

"At the beginning I had a mistake and I was nervous after the jump (popped flip), but then I was back to normal and did my best," Kim said. "Today I wanted to show my new program to the audience and my fans. It was really important to me to do well but I was not thinking about results, only of achieving my goal of showing off my Korean heritage. That thought gave me a lot of energy. Iím so happy. Iíve overcome the hardest time in my life for this competition. Now Iím just so glad I finished this big event."

Standing on the podium, tears cascaded down her cheeks. "I canít really tell you why I cried. Probably because I had such a long break from figure skating, and I didnít know what would happen. For the last six months, Iíd only focused on the Worlds, and Iím just relieved itís over. Next season I will also not do the Grand Prix Series. Iíd like to go to Paris but just for travel leaving my skates at home."

The enormity of her celebrityhood in her home country is such that she can not go outside her home without several guards, because, in public, a crowd immediately forms around her. She also survived a rough time when, in August, she and her mother left the Toronto rink where she had trained with Brian Orser since 2006. She is now trained by Peter Oppegard who is based at the East West Ice Palace in Artesia, California.

Oppegard, who is married to Michelle Kwanís older sister, Karen, won the pairs bronze medal in the 1988 Olympics with Jill Watson. He first met Kim when she came with four other Koreans for one summer in Lake Arrowhead. "She was taller than the others, very quiet but very talented. She and Michelle are very much alike. They are motivated." About the future, she did not foresee changing much. "I wonít add more jumps."

The week after Worlds, she was back in Seoul doing shows. Among her many sponsors with their innumerable demands on her time, she is a spokesperson for her countryís bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Pyeongchang narrowly lost out to both Vancouver and Sochi and is hoping to eclipse Annecy, France and Munich, Germany. Kim will be part of the final presentations in Lausanne, May 18-19, and in Durban, South Africa, on July 6. It is said, that not long after she had won the silver Olympic medal, the charm of a bowing, kimono-clad Midori Ito, helped sway the International Olympic Committeeís decision to award the 1998 Olympics to Nagano, Japan.

3.Overall 184.68; 6.SP 59.75 (30.52+30.23 -1); 3.FS 124.93 (60.30+64.63) Carolina Kostner, Italy, the 3-time European champion (2007, 2008 & 2010) and twice runner-up for that title (2009 & 2011) has competed in Worlds since 2003. Moscow is lucky for her. She earned her highest place, a bronze in 2005, when Worlds was last held in Moscow. And this time she again was third, her highest placement. Last year, in Torino, she finished sixth.

The 24-year-old, who has gone through an injury which was serious enough to make her think of giving up the sport, performed her SP set to Galicia Flamenco. She began well, soaring through a combination of two triple toes. Her double Axel was good and she earned Level 4 for two of her spins. The layback and her circular steps were Level 3. However, she fell badly on her triple flip. She said, "It was good to start the competition, finally! I really wanted to have a good skate. I was maybe too focused on the triple flip I fell on. I wanted to have too much control of it and maybe held back, which was such a shame."

Because of her speed and flow over the ice, she was ranked fifth on components but only 7th on the elements. She actually had the same score as the fifth placed Alena Leonova, but was placed 6th in this section, immediately after the Russian.

She skated her FS, set to Claude Debussyís soothing, dreamy L'AprŤs-Midi d'un Faun next to last, making only two errors. At the midpoint, she singled her first triple loop and faulted the landing of her second attempt at this jump. She finished just 0.76 ahead of Leonova, a situation which was not popular on the home front. Past champion, Irina Slutskaya, commenting for Russian television, was extremely critical of the decision.

But Kostner was overjoyed. "Iím so happy that I found joy in skating again. Last year was very hard for me and I did not even know if I could continue to compete. Yesterday, I made a mistake and I was angry with myself because it cost a lot. Todayís mistake was not so terrible."

4.Overall 183.92; 5.SP 59.75 (31.55+28.20); 4.FS 124.17 (62.35+61.82) Alena Leonova, the twice runner-up for the Russian national title and 2009 world junior champion, was competing in her third Worlds, having placed 7th and 13th in the past two years. She executed her circus routine, set to an Alfred Schnittke Polka and music from La Strada with lots of energy, 21st of the 30 competitors. Like Kostner, the 20-year-old from St. Petersburg, who has been the runner-up for the Russian national title for the last two seasons, opened with a solid combination of two triple toe loops. But, unlike Kostner, she made no major mistakes on any of the seven elements.

Afterwards, she said, "I feel great. I didnít know how I would perform because I had a cold. I thought that it will be so hard to perform here because of the pressure. I wasnít even very happy that they moved the World Championships to Moscow. But, in the end, it was great. The audience was amazing and I took my energy from them. They were cheering even during the program. I landed a jump and heard how they applauded. I had so much energy, that I nearly fell on my step sequence but luckily was able to stand up and make fun of it, as if it was an intentional part of the routine."

For her FS, Leonova performed in a very colorful outfit with black gloves but no sleeves, immediately following Ando to music from The Witches of Eastwick. She turned in a dynamic and emotional performance which left her in tears of joy. Again, she opened impressively with a combination of two triple toe loops. That was followed by a triple Lutz, which was saddled with an "e" for wrong edge take-off. Then came a +0.57 triple loop executed with lots of attack and a Level 4 flying sit spin. She doubled her intended triple flip which was combined with a double toe. After a second Level 4 spin, this one a change foot combination, she soared through a triple Salchow to double toe to double loop, a double Axel, and a double flip. The straight line steps and the final move, a flying camel combination spin were both Level 3.

At the end, she was overwhelmed by the roar from the audience. She got down on her knees and kissed the ice. "It felt wonderful," she said. "I did everything I planned. I had a little mistake, doing a double instead of a triple but it didnít matter to me because I did everything else. I was nervous, already, yesterday. I was thinking about how will I skate after Miki Ando? She is such a good skater and performed so good this season, so I had no doubt she would do everything. The audience was so loud. They started to scream even before I was announced. I tried not to listen, but I couldnít block them out. But, just like yesterday, I tried to take their energy and use it for my own good.

"This season was very good for me. I was higher than last year in Europeans. I am hoping that this will be better than last year at Worlds (where she finished 13th). It was and there followed a great deal of criticism that she was not awarded the bronze. "Kissing the ice was planned," Leonova said later. "Before the beginning of ladies free skate, I decided to kiss the ice if I skated my program well. This ice has brought me luck, tears of happiness were from the fact that all was over. All the emotions I had, expressed in tears."

5.Overall 182.25; 4.SP 61.47 (31.33+30.14); 5.FS 120.78 (60.65+61.13 -1) Alissa Czisny, the US champion, swopped places with Leonova, dropping to fifth but it was still her highest finish in Worlds. The 23-year-old was 15th in her debut in 2007 and 11th in her only other Worlds in 2009. She was 1.67 points behind the Russian and an astonishing 9.46 points ahead of Mao Asada, who climbed to sixth overall.

Dressed in white with a splash of violet, Czisny performed her SP 26th to Korngoldís Romance from his Violin Concerto in D. She said, "I was nervous going into the short program today. My last two world championships short programs weren't so great and I wanted to go out and skate my best. I fought for everything in my program so I was satisfied."

She began with a +0.70 triple Lutz to double toe but her triple flip was saddled with an "e" call for wrong edge takeoff. That got -1.20 taken off its base value. Her double Axel was +0.43 and all three spins, of course, were Level 4. The flying camel received "only" four +2s and five +1s, but the change foot combination was awarded three of the maximum +3 GoEs with the rest +2s, and her final spin, the layback, got four +3s and five +2s. Modestly, Czisny said, "It wasn't my best out there." She felt she could have done her footwork better and felt a slight loss of control on her gorgeous layback for one second. "But I fought for everything, and I am satisfied with the result."

Czisny attributes her new found success to changing coaches to Yuka Sato and Jason Dungjen after last season, along with a different mindset and diet. She performed her FS immediately following Kim to Winter and Spring by George Winston, in a gorgeous blue outfit. Unfortunately, she fell on her opening move, the triple Lutz, meant to be a combined with a double toe. Wisely, she improvised by adding the double toe to her second jump, a triple flip. But, as in the SP, her flip was penalized with an "e".

The rest of her routine had only one flaw, her second triple Lutz to double toe was given a small negative (-0.30). She performed a good (+0.40) triple toe to double toe to double loop, a +0.80 triple loop, a +0.50 double Axel. Her last jumping pass was a base value second triple toe. Six of the nine judges punched in the maximum +3 GoE for her last two spins. Two of the other three judges punched in +2 for both spins, while one wasnít that impressed and punched in only +1. Czisnyís circular steps were Level 2 with +0.79.

Although she dropped a place to fifth, she had never expected to beat Mao Aada, the jumping bean. However, she earned 6.46 more points than the former twice world champion on the element scores. Surprisingly, she beat the less graceful Asada by only 1.19 on the components.

Czisny said, "I was a bit nervous again today. But overall this season was a whole last season (when she was only 10th at nationals). Obviously nobody expected (this fifth place) but I had very high expectations of myself and that drove me throughout the season." Next, Iím going to do some shows with Yu-na, which Iím very excited about because I have some new exhibition numbers. After that, a little break is in order."

6.Overall 172.79; 7.SP 58.66 (27.92+30.74); 6.FS 114.13 (54.19+59.94) Mao Asada, the Japanese defending World Champion had been expected to be a major player in this event. She won silver in her debut in World Seniors in 2007, took the title in 2008 & 2010 and was 4th in 2009. She was second to Miki Ando in this seasonís Japanese championship but had earned the title for the previous four years. For her to be 7th in the SP was mind-boggling and itís all because she and her coach insist she continue to try the triple Axel, a jump only she attempts.

Skating 29th, after Flatt, and just before Kim, to a Alfred Schnittke tango, the 20-year-old received only 2.09 marks for her opening triple Axel which was under-rotated and landed on two feet. Her triple loop was awarded +0.70 over its base value of 5.10. However, her combination turned into an under-rotated triple flip to double loop which earned her only 4.60 points. Her three spins were Level 4 and her straight line steps Level 3, all with positive GoEs but it was a shocking performance from such a talented skater who has achieved so much.

"I was very disappointed about my mistake on the triple Axel," Asada readily admitted. "Iím sad that I couldnít show what Iím capable of. I have been focusing on my Short Program so much this season, but I couldnít do it. Now, Iíll switch my mindsetting on tomorrow. Iíll try to put everything together. I just want to put out a strong performance." She drew to Free Skate in the penultimate group, 16th, performing to Lisztís Liebestraum. But again, she gave an inferior performance with many mistakes.

Her opening move was the triple Axel and, again, it was downgraded and she received only 2.66 points. (The base value for a double Axel is 3.3. She would have done better to present that!) She received 7.80 points for the following triple flip to double loop, but her triple Lutz got a wrong edge take-off, and she wobbled on her first spin, which was given only Level 1 and 2.10 points. The second jump in her double Axel to triple toe was downgraded. After a good triple flip to two double loops, she singled her Salchow.

She did pull herself together for the ending, earning Level 4 and +0.64 GoE for her flying sit spin. The straight line steps were Level 3 +0.71. A triple loop got a half point added and her flying camel combination spin earned +0.86 over the Level 4 base value. She ended with the choreographed spiral which received +1.14 GoE.

She said, "It has been a really difficult season for me. Now I feel relieved. At this competition, I tried to put everything out that I am capable of doing. I am not totally satisfied because of the mistakes, but I think I did my best at this point." Unfortunately, that was possibly her worst showing ever.

7.Overall 167.22; 3.SP 61.62 (32.53+29.09); 9.FS 105.90 (46.52+60.08 -1) Ksenia Makarova, Russia, who previously lived in New York State, was a surprise third after the SP, which she skated to a Flamenco by Didulja. The 18-year-old, who was Russian champion last season but only fifth this December, beaten by youngsters not yet old enough for this event, Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva performed her SP 23rd of the 30 competitors, landing a triple toe-triple toe combination which earned +0.60 over its base value, a triple loop that gained +0.70 and a +0.29 double Axel.

Two of her three spins were Level 4 earning +0.50 and +0.64 over their base value. Her layback spin and straight line steps were both Level 3 with +0.50. Her score was her seasonís best. She said, "I am very pleased with my performance. I just thought that I want to skate like I do every day in St. Petersburg in practice. My jumps were good and there were so many emotions, even more than I thought and the audience was amazing. I am very surprised to sit here with the legends, next to Olympic Champion Yuna Kim. All my hard work paid off. For tomorrow I want to do the same thing and I hope it works out." But it didnít.

The daughter of the Soviet 1984 Olympic pair bronze medalists, Larisa Selezneva & Oleg Makarov, who moved from St. Petersburg to the United States, when she was young, drew to perform her Evita FS last of the 24 who made it to this section. She began with a +0.70 triple flip, but then the second jump on her combination of two triple toes was down-graded. Her triple loop was nice and got +0.50 but she fell on her second triple loop which was downgraded.

She had planned to do that triple loop with a double toe and double loop added to it. After falling, she decided to add those two jumps to her double Axel, which was supposed to be a solo jump. When she did that, the move became her third combination. So when she executed her triple Salchow to double toe, that was classed as an illegal fourth combination and she received no marks for it all. Then she faltered on her final move, a Level 3 flying sit spin. She dropped to 7th overall just 0.57 ahead of Murakami.

After her FS, she would not talk to the Press. Her coach, Evgeni Rukavitsin, said, "In my opinion, it was because of the late starting number." She was sixth, last in the last warm-up group. It was very difficult for her to wait so long. We tried to keep her focused but everyone around was talking and walking around. Her hip hurts but that wasnít the problem. I see a progress in her skating, but not as much as I would have liked. She does all this in training and even more. She wasnít able to show all the stamina that we built in training. She just didnít have enough experience for the last starting number."

8.Overall 167.10; 10.SP 54.86 (28.51+26.35); 7.FS 112.24 (55.62+56.62) Kanako Murakami, Japan, 16, made her debut in this event, skating her SP to Big Bad Voodoo Daddyís Jumping Jack. The second jump in her combination of two triple toe loops was given one arrow for slight under-rotation, her triple flip received only the base value and her double Axel was flawed. But all her spins were Level 4 with positive GoEs and her energetic straight line steps were rewarded with +0.57 over the base value for Level 3.

She was extremely hard on herself. "I am mortified about todayís performance. I was not nervous although this is a really big competition. Tomorrow I want to skate everything clean and redeem myself." Her FS was to The Mask of Zorro and it enabled her to advance two places.

She said, "I had more energy than I had yesterday, but there were still some mistakes. I popped a jump (the triple flip) and I had two under-rotations (on the second jump of the opening move, a combination of two triple toes, and on her triple loop). Thatís a shame. I need to work on my jumps, for sure, but not only on jumps but everything else as well. I want my skating in general to compete with the top skaters." She also got an "e" from wrong edge takeoff on her triple Lutz.

9.Overall 164.80; 9.SP 55.09 (25.83+30.26 -1); 8.FS 109.71 (52.65+58.06 -1) Kiira Korpi, Finland, has shown off her lovely Somewhere Over the Rainbow SP at several competitions this season. With it, she won this section of this seasonís European championship, in which she finished third overall. But, skating 27th in Moscow, she fell on the first jump of her planned two triple toe loops and lay ninth going into the FS. "I cut my hand when I fell on my first jump and when I finished I noticed blood on my leg. I donít know what happened. It is really difficult to say right after skating. Maybe I went too much with the flow, and should be more in control, or the speed was too high." She could have received slightly higher marks but she didnít go to Plan B and add the missing jump onto her other triple, a good +0.60 triple loop, to meet the requirement of having a combination.

This is Korpiís fifth world championship and she was still able to match her previous best placing of ninth, but she was very disappointed. After the FS, which she performed 14th, she said, "Today, I just tried to forget about my yesterdayís failure. Today is a new day and I had to start from the very beginning. The organization is completely amazing. Everything was great, the rink, the ice and especially the fans. Right now, I canít say anything definite about my future but in June, Iíll do a new Free program. I made some progress this year. I won the Grand Prix in Paris. I won nationals and I improved my component score a lot."

She performed to music from Evita. This time she brought off the triple toe to triple toe and all but one of her 12 required elements received their base value or better. The one fault was a fall in the mid-section on a downgraded triple flip.

10.Overall 156.24; 15.SP 51.61 (24.87+26.74); 10.FS 104.63 (54.66+50.97 -1) Elene Gedevanishvili, Georgia, who trains in New Jersey, was 18th in this event last year after being ninth in 2009. She repeated last seasonís SP set to Cell Block Tango from the Chicago soundtrack. Although the 21-year-old brought off a triple Lutz to double toe, her solo triple jump out of steps was only a toe loop which was under-rotated, and none of her Level moves was above 3. She said she was nervous. "The past two seasons have been very inconsistent for me. Iíve had ups (she won bronze in the 2010 European championships, her countryís first ever ISU medal), and downs. I work very hard. I had planned to go with my coach, Robin Wagner, to Japan but when the championships were moved, she had commitments which she couldnít change so Iím with Nikolai (Morozov) here. Although she fell on her first triple toe in her Phantom of the Opera free, her performance, in which two of the spins received the maximum Level 4, was good enough to pull her up five places.

11.Overall 155.83; 12.SP 52.73 (29.44+23.29); 11.FS 103.10 (53.88+50.22 -1.0) Sarah Hecken, who is the 3-time German champion, performed her SP to Tango de los Exilados bringing off a combination of two triple toe loops and gaining positive GoEs for all seven of her elements. The 17-year-old said, "I am very pleased to put out a clean performance. I was 12th in worlds last year (in her debut) and I would like to at least repeat that placing. I feel Iím finally able to show a character in my SP. This was lacking before."

Her FS, set to music from a Polish movie, Jealousy and Medicine, enabled her to climb a place, despite a fall on the triple loop. She said, "It was practically perfect today. I made a little mistake on the loop but the rest was perfect. I achieved 100 points for the first time. It is actually my seasonís best. We are not decided if we will change our SP for next season. My goals are to be national champion again and to be higher at Europeans and Worlds."

12.Overall 154.61; 8.SP 57.22 (28.13+29.29); 14.FS 97.39 (45.45+51.94) Rachael Flatt, USA, skating 28th of the 30 allowed into the SP, began her routine set to the finale from East of Eden by Lee Holdridge, with a +0.50 triple flip to double toe, but then she doubled her Lutz. She was the only competitor of the 30 skating the SP who earned Level 4 for her straight line steps. Two of her three spins were also Level 4. The layback was Level 3. The 18-year-old, skating in eye-catchng bright yellow, said, "My (right) leg injury has been bothering me a little bit on the Lutz and I was thinking at the last second about whether I should substitute a loop and that kind of distracted me."

The extent of the injury only came out after her FS, which she performed in red to Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. She began with a double Axel to triple toe loop combination but the second jump was under-rotated. Both flip jumps were singled. However, she brought off a second double Axel, two triple loops the second of which was combined with a double toe to double loop, and a triple Salchow to double toe. One spin was the maximum Level 4 and the other two got Level 3. The steps were Level 2. It was a gutsy showing considering her physical handicap.

After listening to the low marks, she revealed, "Iím in a lot of pain. I have a stress fracture of my tibia (one of the two bones in her lower right leg). That was not too much fun! I tried to do the best I could at this point with how I was feeling. Unfortunately, it wasnít very good and certainly wasnít close to my best. I tried to push through it. I didnít find out what it was until last Friday so there wasnít really much time to do much. I came here and tried to do what I could."

When he heard about this situation, Frank Carroll was quite vocal in asking why Flatt was allowed to travel to Moscow when she was not 100% fit. Carroll coaches Mirai Nagasu, who was seventh in last yearís World Championship. Because she was only third in nationals this season, and the team comprised only two womenís spots, she was the first reserve for Worlds. Shortly after nationals, she completely overshadowed both Flatt and Czisny in the Four Continents Championships in Taipei in February. Next season, based on the competitorsí placements this time, the US will again only be permitted to field two women instead of the maximum three for next yearís Worlds which are in Nice, France.

This has been Flattís "gap" year. She will enroll at Stanford University, CA, in the fall. "Now Iím going to take a family vacation before I head to college. I wonít be skating for at least a month to let my injury heal." She will try to combine both school and skating next season.

13.Overall 152.78; 13.SP 52.62 (25.11+27.51); 12.FS 100.16 (47.94+53.22 -1) Cynthia Phaneuf, the Canadian champion, who was fifth at last year's world championships, lost all chance of repeating that fine placement when she doubled her triple Lutz in her combination in the SP, which was set to Spanish Guitar Bordaco En Ora and Afternoon at Satieís by Jesse Cook. She explained, "I was good in the warm-up, but I backed off the Lutz when it was time to rotate."

The 23-year-old had another difficult day in the Free, which she skated to Rachmaninov's "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. She fell on her opening triple Lutz and singled the second attempt at this jump. Although she executed a fine +0.70 triple loop to two double toes, she doubled her second planned triple loop. Phaneuf, who was 12th at the Vancouver Games, admitted the post-Olympic season was a grind.

"Iím disappointed about the results. Last year was a very long year for me, I was so in my world and so focused on my training. I was skating good or OK but this season has been like I was always running after something and never getting it. I've heard from other athletes who said that the year after the Olympics is the most difficult one. I didn't see how that could be true at the beginning. They said, you'll see, and I think they were right. This year just wasnít very good for me."

14.Overall 150.44; 11.SP 53.26 (31.05+22.21); 15.FS 97.18 (50.63+47.55 -1) Mae Berenice Meite, France, said, after her SP set to music from Forest Gump, "I am very happy especially with my triple toe to triple toe combination since itís the first time Iíve done it in competition. I couldnít think of a better performance to show in my first appearance at Worlds." She gained the maximum Level 4 for all three of her spins and her circular steps were Level 3.

However, the 16-year-old was less enthusiastic after the FS which she performed to Concerto Pour Guitare & Hable Con Ella. "This is my third program (after the Qualifying and the SP). You have to take that into account. I wanted to skate clean but that didnít happen. I was confident but I was a little stressed. However, I donít want to complain. I had a good season, going to the European Championships and to two Grand Prix events and now Worlds. Now I have to go back to school."

15.Overall 149.08; 16.SP 50.25 (27.31+22.94); 13.FS 98.83 (53.47+46.36 -1) Joshi Helgesson, Sweden, finished two places ahead of her older sister Viktoria, who had a disastrous time skating her SP to This is England. Viktoria didnít fall but messed up her combination, the Axel and her flying sit spin. Joshi, who performed her SP to Sarabande immediately after Viktoria, was not able to watch her sister. Of her own showing, Joshi said, "My jumps and spins were very good but I only got Level 2 in my steps and my speed in the program was not so good." In the Free, she fell on her opening triple Lutz but still was able to advance a spot overall. Viktoria lay 24th after the SP, gaining the last slot for the Free, where she did much better, climbing seven places with a 16th ranked FS to finish 17th overall.

16.Overall 144.76; 14.SP 51.98 (28.95+23.03); 18.FS 92.78 (44.58+48.20) Amelie LaCoste, the 2009 & 2011 Canadian bronze medalist, replaced the injured Myriane Samson. In her debut world appearance, the 22-year-old performed her SP to Ojos Negros accomplishing a double Axel and triple Loop to double loop. However, she faulted her triple Lutz. On her layback, she traveled and gained only Level 1 but the other two spins were Level 4. She dropped two places after the Free which was ranked only 18th best. She said, "It was great to be here but the long was tough. With practice on Sunday and Monday (for the qualifying round on Tuesday) and the SP and FS on Friday and Saturday, I feel Iíve been going straight out for a week. I did some mistakes and it was a little shaky. I was a bit tired. But I felt good. I was not nervous at all. In her FS, set to Sheherazade, she singled her Lutz, her first triple toe was downgraded although the second one combined with a double toe gained +0.50 over its base value, and her second triple loop received one arrow for a slight under-rotation.

Rebounding from Defeat - Taking Back the World Crown

The first to rebound after being dethroned, was the first ever US world Ladies champion, Tenley Albright, who lost her crown to the German Gundi Busch in 1954. Busch immediately turned professional leaving the title vacant for Albright to recapture easily.

The following incident was a double recapture for East German Anett Poetzsch. American Linda Fratianne won worlds initially in 1977, but was eclipsed by Poetzsch in 1978. Fratianne soared back onto the top step of the podium in 1979 but Poetzsch had the final word, capturing both the Olympic gold and the 1980 world title.

Then there was the battle between Kati Witt of East Germany who lost the world title she had held twice, when American Debi Thomas won in 1986. But Witt, who was very sportsmanlike about her loss, came back to win the next two Worlds.

Of course, there was also Michelle Kwan. Kwan was dethroned by her American teammate Tara Lipinski in 1997. But Lipinski turned professional immediately after winning the 1998 Olympic gold and Kwan regained her crown, which she subsequently lost for a second time, in 1999 to Maria Butyrskaya of Russia. After rebounding to win two more titles, Kwan was again beaten by a Russian, Irina Slutskaya in 2002. Kwan rebounded a third time to recapture the title in 2003. Two years later Slutskaya also staged a comeback and won gold in 2005.

Mao Asada, Andoís teammate, was the last woman to make a comeback, winning in 2008 & 2010.


2011 Ladies Medalists

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