by Alexandra Stevenson
US skaters have been swept up in a strange mathematical limbo. All three US team members, Richard Dornbush (11th), Ryan Bradley (12th ) and Ross Miner (13th), along with former world champion Brian Joubert (9th) and youngster Denis Ten of Kazakhstan, who trains with Frank Carroll in California (10th) earned marks in the range 70.40-71.29, virtually tying them going into the Free.
However, because the top 24 who progress to the Free skate will skate in four groups of six, Miner, the US national bronze medalist, has been relegated to the before the mid-event ice resurfacing, skating 11th. It is still believed that the later a skater performs, the higher his component marks will be. His teammates will skate in the next group. Within this six-member group, Dornbush drew to skate 15th, immediately following Joubert and Verner, while Bradley would free skate 17th after Brezina.
Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister, attended Wednesdayís Opening Ceremony to official open these championships. The ceremony was very professionally put together and staged after the Men's Short and before the Pairs Short. Japanese Kodo drums played and a minuteís silence was observed. Putin speech mentioned that the first ISU world championship took place in 1896 in St. Petersburg. "In the period since, Russian and Soviet figure skaters have elevated their beautiful sport to a fine art."
But, in the Mens Short, it was a Canadian who soared to new heights.
Place 1:Total marks: 93.02 (51.48 elements+41.54 components) The first event at this world championship for which the marks counted towards a title, showed off the four-time Canadian champion, 20-year-old Patrick Chan, at his best. The runner-up in the past two World championships put himself in an excellent position to win the title when the event concludes.
His score bettered the Short Program previous world record of 91.30 set for this section at the 2010 European championship by Evgeni Plushenko, the Russian 2010 silver and 2006 gold Olympic medalist, who was watching the event from the VIP section with his second wife. Recently, Plushenko applied to the Russian Federation for reinstatement of his eligible status because the 28-year-old wants to compete in the Sochi Olympic Games in 2014. He had lost that privilege (which is necessary to compete in all ISU international events and the Olympics), when he appeared in professional shows outside of Russia instead of following his Associationís wish that he continue on after the 2010 Olympics to the 2010 world championships a month later. His Association accepted his apology and petition to be reinstated and forwarded it to the International Skating Union which is expected to grant his wish at their June meeting.
Chanís world record achievement is all the more impressive because, last year, the Short Program had eight compulsory elements and this season there are only seven, with one instead of two required footwork sequences. So the technical score overall was expected to drop. Chan is very aware that the current system rewards not just excellent jumps, but also skaters who excel in spins and footwork. He was the only competitor to receive the maximum Level 4 for his steps, which were straight line. Two of his spins were Level 4 and the change foot camel Level 3.
There were only five skaters who received Level 4 for all three spins, Takahiko Kozuka, Japan, who lies sixth; Michal Brezina, Czech Republic, seventh; Denis Ten, Kazahkstan, tenth; Richard Dornbush, USA, 11th; and Jorik Hendricxx of Belgium, who is buried in 23rd place because of flaws on his triple Lutz to triple toe and triple loop. Only the top 24 progress from the Short to the Free Skate. The entry has already been reduced to 30 for the this section.
Chan, who trains in Colorado Springs with Christy Krall, leads by a huge 11.21 points over Nobunari Oda, from Japan, who is second just 1.56 ahead of his teammate, Daisuke Takahashi. In fourth place is the Russian Artur Gachinski with European champion, Florent Amodio of France, fifth.
With a joyful, riveting, flowing performance, which made the allocated two minute fifty seconds fly by, Chan presented a relaxed persona, interpreting the casualness of Paul Desmondís version of Dave Brubeckís famed Take Five. Dressed casually in a white short sleeved shirt with a black woolen pullover from an earlier era, Chan began with a stunning combination of quad and triple toe loops. Only a few competitors attempted this fantastically difficult element, and only Chan and the Russian 2010 world junior champion Gachinski brought it off. However, Gachinski had an improper landing on another of the seven elements, the triple jump from steps.
Chan, who skated 22nd, which was fourth of the six skaters in the fifth of the six warm-up groups, said, "I knew that if I skated really well, I would get marks in the high 80s, but I didnít expect to get above 90. Thatís amazing. Iím so happy. I hear about people breaking records all the time in other sports all the time, so I can finally say, I have my own. Iím so proud of my performance. The record is just a bonus and it makes my smile even bigger.
"I didnít sleep well last night and Iím glad I was able to skate well especially after the warm-up." The six skaters in each warm-up group are given six minutes to get the feel of the ice before performing. During his warmup, Chan had not been able to execute a quad. Under the same circumstance, other skaters might have decided to substitute an easier jump but Chan said that wasnít an option.
Chan said, "Iím looking forward to performing my long program for the last time tomorrow." Chan kept his Free routine from the Olympics for a second season. "Hopefully, I can perform it the same way I skated today. I just need to stay focused on my goals and not get carried away."
Later, at the Press Conference, Chan said, "To be able to achieve this, it is kind of a dream come true. The program itself was excellent. I was really proud of myself. I actually was quite nervous today, because the whole event was postponed. All the events that came prior to it made it a special world championship, I believe, not only for me, but for the Japanese skaters as well. I was very happy to keep it together mentally and do what I am able to do in practice and to be able to translate it to competition was a very tough task. I was able to concentrate on what I had to do and I did it. It was a very big relief for me to be able to achieve something under these circumstances.
"About my lead, I think in these circumstances it is very important to keep a tight mind. It is very easy to get carried away. It's important for me to stay focused on my goals. What I did today is a little bit of foretelling for tomorrow and I'll repeat what I did today and use the same kind of mental and physical approach as I did today.
"I really took advantage of the extra month. It was a crucial time. I just kept doing what I was doing. I reinforced all my good habits over and over and just looked at the fine details and did my run through as I usually do. I plan to do two quad toes in tomorrowís Free.
"I've been training the Free with two quads (one in combination) since and before the National Championships. I decided for this event not to change that. I rely a lot on the breathing and the rhythm of the program to help me complete my jumps. So I'm going to keep everything the same and pretend as if there was no short program, no results and we are all skating a new program and skating for new positions. The same as the Japanese skaters, I'm going to go all out and not hold anything back, really give it my best and give them a challenge."
2: 81.81 (43.37+38.44) Nobunari Oda, who is the 17th descendant of the war lord Nobunaga Oda (1534-1582), skated last of the 30 skaters from 18 countries allowed into this section. The top 12 ISU ranked skaters drew for the last two warm-up groups. The 24 year-old performed to Storm by the Yoshida Brothers. In the last world championship, Oda had a terrible performance in this section and did not qualify for the 24 who are allowed into Free Skate. This time he stepped out of the landing of his quad and was not able to execute the second jump meant to be combined with it. However, he went to Plan B and made the triple Lutz jump out of footwork into the combination by tagging on a triple toe.
Oda, who finished seventh in the Vancouver Olympics, said, "Iím very pleased with my placement today. It was surprising because I made the mistake on the quad and also wobbled on my straight line steps. I included a quad because I think it is necessary, and that paid off. Last year I was 28th in this section. So Iím really happy, really happy to receive the "small" silver medal (given for just this sectionís performance). I hope I continue the same way.
"When I skated, I did know about Patrickís score. So I thought it must have been a wonderful performance. Then I knew I had to produce something in accordance with the very high level of expectation. I also wanted to finish this season with a very good performance, and thatís what I concentrated on. I put out all of my very best today.
"I think the most difficult part was of course to keep a good psychological stage in our training given the circumstances in Japan. However, I just focused on what I have been doing throughout the whole season and that kept my feelings on the same level. Thatís why I was able to say to myself, ĎI am going to have a very good performance here in Moscow.í"
Oda trains partially in Canada and partly in Japan where his wife, Mayu, on October 1 last year, had their son, Shintaru.
3: 80.25 (39.33+40.92) Daisuke Takahashi, who became the first Japanese man to win an Olympic figure skating medal, when he took third in Vancouver, is defending his world title won last year in Torino. The 25 year old, who is now trained by Utako Nagamitsu, skated 26th, after Chan but said, "I didnít know about his score before I skated. But I saw it when I was in the Kiss and Cry area and was very surprised by how high it was. However, I was later told he had done the clean quad combination and he deserves his score.
"About my performance today, I wouldnít say it was 100% complete. Maybe it sounds funny, but I did enjoy it. I was very comfortable with my performance. I know I cannot keep a very high level of concentration for a very long time, so, what I did when I knew the date had been fixed for Moscow was to take a week off, and then when I came back, I trained intensely. Given the gap, between my score and Patrickís, of course, I have to give my 100% and a perfect performance on the ice. Is it possible for me to win? Maybe tomorrow, there will be a different wind. I donít know. There just might be a miracle. We will see. I always aim at creating emotions and I noticed many fans went crazy in my performance. "
Takahashi, who was only 1.56 behind Oda, received the second highest component score but he did not try a quad, and had no Level 4s. He was penalized with an "e" for wrong edge takeoff on the triple flip which was combined with a triple toe loop. The "call" means that he effectively was doing a triple Lutz which was the jump he presented after footwork, and it is not allowed to repeat a jump in this section. The three spins and his steps were all level 3. He performed to Historia de un Amor, Que Rico Mambo, and Mambo No.5 all by Perez Prado, with great energy but earned 3.24 points less than he had received for the Short Program when he won this section of the Four Continents championships in Chinese Taipei in February.
4: 78.34 (42.46+35.89) Artur Gachinski, a 17 year-old trained by Alexei Mishin in St. Petersburg, was the 2010 world junior bronze medalist, making his debut in this event. At the 2011 European championships he finished fifth. Skating to Pink Floyd, he opened with a +1.57 quad toe to triple toe which earned him a total of 15.34. His triple Axel was also good and he banked another 8.93. But then, he had a flawed exit from his triple loop out of steps and had to execute a little jump to get his foot in the proper place for landing. His steps were Level 3. One spin was Level 4 and another Level 3. But his change foot combination spin was only Level 2. He earned the third highest technical score but was only the ninth highest scorer on components.
Gachinsky was very laid back about his debut. "My performance was good. I made only one little mistake on the loop. This competition feels no different to the others. Itís just one more, just one more next step. I felt no pressure, only pleasure from skating for my home audience."
There is only 0.14 of a point between fifth, sixth and seventh and only 2.40 between fourth to eighth.
5: 77.64 (40.46+37.18) The European champion, Florent Amodio, who is 20, skated 19th. The extremely expressive youngster, who was adopted as a baby by a French couple who were visiting Brazil, skated to music from Once Upon a Time in Mexico, was dressed in black, including gloves. He began with a fast, soaring triple Axel which he made look easy and then threw off a secure two jump combination, triple Lutz combined with a triple toe. His triple flip from footwork followed, but was given an "edge call". It was his only negative GoE.
He said, "I am very satisfied with my program. Itís a very special moment. We should have been on holiday at the end of our season already. Coming here as European champion, I knew I had to stay clear on everything and I am glad I did. I had some problems preparing with my boots getting soft. We worked a lot on all the elements with my coach, Nikolai Morosov."
6: 77.62 (39.83+37.79) Takahiko Kozuka, 22, the Japanese Grand Prix bronze medalist, who skated to Orin Isaacsí Soul Medley, said, "Iím mortified because I couldnít do a perfect performance. I think it is very important to land the jumps but I couldnít do it today. So I canít be satisfied with my performance. I canít figure out what happened with my triple Axel. (He had to put two hands on the ice to keep from falling.) I couldnít do it today. Maybe there was some extra pressure although I didnít feel it that much. I felt warmly welcomed here and I think the audience here in Moscow is really expert in skating." All three spins were Level 4.
7: 77.50 (41.10+36.40) Michal Brezina, 21, who performed to Japanese Kodo Drums, was fourth in this event in 2010. He said, "I am satisfied with how I skated today. I made only one little mistake on the landing of the combination." His triple Axel was very stylish and his triple flip was extremely high, which, perhaps, was the reason he had to execute a double three to hold onto the landing of the triple toe loop with which it was combined. "I think I opened up a little late. But the most important thing is I didnít fall. The day before yesterday, I was very tired. But today felt good."
8: 75.94 (39.62+37.32 -1.0) Tomas Verner, 24, who, like Brezina, represents the Czech Republic, presented an upbeat routine to Singing in the Rain. He fell on his quad toe, making him the highest placed skater to get a point deduction. His triple Axel received a positive GoE but his triple Lutz to triple toe got -0.90 taken off its base value. He has been training this past year in Canada with Robert Emerson.
9: 71.29 (34.37+36.92) Brian Joubert, who is back training with his original coach, Veronique Guyon, won this title in 2007, was runner-up 2004, 2006 & 2008 and took bronze 2009 and 2010. But it is unlikely that he will be standing on the podium here. Skating to Once Upon a Time in Mexico, he was leaning in the air on his first jump, a quad toe and had to step out of the landing so he couldnít combine it with another jump. He did a good triple Axel. For some reason, he did not go to Plan B and add the leftout jump to his triple flip out of steps which got an "e" for wrong edge. Since Joubert continually gets an "e" call for the flip, why, in the short program, doesnít Joubert just write down Lutz on his list of elements?
10: 71.00 (39.23+31.77) Denis Ten, 17, skated 5th in the first group of six. Ten, who represents Kazakhstan, is trained by with Frank Carroll in California. On this warm-up group, which included the American competitors, Richard Dornbush, who is coached by Tammy Gambill, and Ross Miner, whose instructor is Mark Mitchell, was American Priscilla Hill was with Viktor Pfeifer. Pfeifer represents Austria but trains in the US. He opening this event. A fall on his double Axel put him 26th which eliminated him from progressing to the Free.
11: 70.54 (38.25+32.29) Richard Dornbush, a 19 year old from Corona, CA, the US championship silver medalist, in his first Worlds, performed third of the thirty competitors, interpreting Elena by Brian Setzer. He brought off his triple Lutz to triple toe and got the full rotation for his triple Axel, although it had a faulty landing. His triple flip got a wrong edge take-off "e" call. However, all three spins were Level 4 and the steps got Level 3.
Dornbush said, "It went far better than it could have. Iíve had a week with a couple of rough practices so I was happy to be able to get off the ice having not missed anything. I was very happy. For my first world championships, I think I was a little nervous but I was able to fight through it and put out the best program I could have at that time. I really tried my hardest.
"This is the fourth day we have been here. The whole facility is great. Itís amazing that Russia was able to put on this competition so well in this amount of time. Iím really thankful for that and to them. So far, itís been a great World experience. If I didnít know about the cancellation and rescheduling and I just came here, there is no way I would know that it had been planned in such a short amount of time. Itís been done so professionally.
"I definitely want to take it one step at a time but itís a relief to have the short program behind me. Iím not going to look back at this program with any regrets. Iím going to try to do the long the best I can."
12: 70.45 (38.84+31.61) Ryan Bradley, the new US champion, placed 15th in his first Worlds in Tokyo in 2007 and 18th as a substitute in the 2010 Worlds. He then retired for a very short while but changed his mind and came back. At 27, older and wiser, he gave a wonderfully ham-ey, enjoyable showing dressed in a Hollywood version of a World War 11 military outfit. He performed 13th of the 30 allowed into this section, brazenly entertaining the audience with a cocky smile and great energy. His music, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, suited him.
All his elements, which included a quad toe to double toe, triple Axel and triple flip from footwork gained positive GoEs. He had two Level 4 spins. The change foot camel received Level 3 but the steps were only Level 2.
Bradley, who is from St. Joseph, Mo but trains in Colorado at the Broadmoor SC, gained said it was a relief to get the short over with. "The last times Iíve come to Worlds, the Short has been a disaster. That was weighing down on me all week. Iím happy I stayed on my feet and in the game. It was a little low energy-wise, I thought. The quad went up a little crooked, but I fought through it and got points on it. In years past, that would become a triple toe or a downgraded quad fall. I would have loved to have tacked a triple toe on, but I got a little conservative. However, Iím still the game. You canít really ask for too much more than that.
"Seventy points is obviously not my best but it keeps me competitive. I have a hard enough long program, I can make a big pull. I laid the ground work for tomorrow, keeping myself in the game so when I do two quads and two triple Axels tomorrow, I can be competitive. Iím making sure I kept myself up there, thatís what today was about. I thought the crowd showed up, and they were great. The program felt really easy for me. I havenít gotten the reactions in Europe that Iíve wanted in the past so that I did this time was a good step for me."
13: 70.40 (38.02+38.38) Ross Miner, from Watertown, Mass, the US national bronze medalist, performed sixth in the initial group of six to Para Ti by Jorge Gomez. His triple Axel gained a +0.86 GoE and the triple Lutz to triple toe +0.70, which meant the 20-year-old banked a total of 20.16 for those two moves.
"I was so happy to be out there. Itís the World Championships and Iím just grateful to be on the ice. I had a really good time and canít wait for tomorrow. I think Iím going to take it that my training paid off. I worked really hard between the US Championships and now. Iím really glad I did the work and for everyone at home who helped keep me focused.
"The thing that is the most nerve racking is waiting. Once youíre out there, itís ok. You think, ĎI do this every day.í I had a little bit of time to wait but I kind of stole the locker room (where they keep the sweeper equipment) because they were out there sweeping the ice, and took my skates off, did a few jumps and focused. Tomorrow, I want to continue to do what I worked on. This is a sport where you can focus on just yourself and thatís what I plan on doing."
19: 64.36 (34.00+31.36-1.0) Kevin Reynolds, 20, from the Vancouver area, is the replacement for Shawn Sawyer, who was named for the world team but decided to take advantage of professional offers once the tragedy in Japan happened and Worlds was postponed. Reynolds was on the world team last year, finishing 11th. He is the first man to execute two quads in a Short Program, a toe loop and a Salchow, which he achieved in the 2010 Skate Canada Grand Prix, shortly after the rules changed allowing this possibility.
He performed to Moaniní by Art Blakely Drum Thunder Suite. Here in Moscow, he fell on the quad Salchow, which also received an arrow for a slight under rotation. His triple Axel had -0.57 taken off its base value but the triple Lutz to triple toe earned the full base value. Only one of his spins was Level 4. Another was Level 3 but the change foot sit spin and the steps were only Level 2.
Reynolds said, "I was very glad to be here and very glad about to complete the triple Axel I did today. I decided not to do two quads today since I was recovering from an injury and had six weeks off. It was kind of difficult to get back into training. I knew I would be coming here just four weeks ago, so my preparation has been a little rushed. I would say Iím 75% prepared. Iím now looking forward to the Free skate because I have nothing to lose."
21: 61.69 (30.90+30.79) Joey Russell, 22, is the Canadian national bronze medalist competing in his first Worlds. Skated seventh, he perform to Tchaikovskyís powerful 1812 Overture, which depicts the French retreating from invading Russia. He opened with a triple Axel which earned its base value. However, both his triple flip and the triple toe which was the tail end of his combination with a triple Lutz, were saddled with one arrow for a slight under rotation.
Russell, who is coached by Doug Leigh, freely admitted, "I was in attack mode right from the beginning and I think thatís why the triple Axel was successful. Itís the first time this season Iíve done it in competition. I think I just got a little bit excited. I didnít do the second jump in the planned triple flip to triple loop and so, going into the triple Lutz, I had to combine it with another jump and thatís why the triple toe wasnít good. But Iím happy to be here and to have done my best performance today."
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