by Alexandra Stevenson
Unique Approach to Anthems Used in London
A unique feature appeared at this year’s Worlds in London, Ontario. Instead of the normal recorded version, the national anthem of the winner was sung live by the local Amabile Choirs, who had to be prepared for a surprise winner as well as the obvious favorites.
Working on South Korea’s version in Kim’s native tongue was difficult.
When Yuna Kim was beginning her winning career, at one event they hung the flag of North Korea, instead of the south, and played their national anthem, a true insult, but Kim never complained. Were that to have happened at this event, which had a television feed to many countries including South Korea, a major diplomatic row would have taken place, particularly since the north is currently threatening to nuke the south.
Lisa McCracken, manager of Amabile Choirs, said, “You can imagine, our choristers have been anxiously watching the figure skating to determine who may be a prospective winner and which national anthem they will be singing.” Forty-one countries competed, but a majority of them were not in the running. “Of course we knew that Yuna Kim and Mao Asada (Japan) would be a possible winners right from the start, as long as they turned up. Singing in another language, as you can imagine, is difficult, but it is part of a dedicated singer’s training.”
The 50 female singers selected have been training together since January and their task concentrated on Russia, Italy, France, China, Germany, Japan and South Korea. Of course, they also practiced the Canadian and U.S. anthems, with which most of them were very familiar.
“We’ve had visiting professors, music teachers, parents and some choristers who speak another language help teach the singers how to sing in a particular language,” said McCracken. “They’ve learned more than mere phonetics. The singers studied English translations, so, when they’re actually singing words they don’t fully understand, they know what they’re actually singing and what emotion they should be feeling.”
Amabile is composed of 300 singers and eight different choirs. Those at the Budweiser Arena were aged from 12 to 40.
(17 March 2013)
Defending Champion Carolina Kostner,
bravely skating with bloody nose, gets silver
The impact of Yuna Kim’s flawless skating in London reached many hearts. One person even tweeted, “I cannot be an atheist when I see such beautiful skating.”
1. Overall 218.31; 1.FS 148.34 (74.73+73.61) Yuna Kim was indeed the Queen. Her performances in both sections couldn’t be challenged and Canada greeted her with the awe and respect the magnificently talented 22-year old deserved. Her four minute ten second Free routine, set to “Les Miserables”, was well conceived and executed. Her grey dress with puff shoulders was exquisite adorned and cut. In her opening triple Lutz to triple toe loop she was textbook straight in the air. The jump combination was definitely worthy of the six +3s, although two of the judges gave “merely” +2s. The following triple flip was equally worthy of its six +3s. (Four judges gave both elements +3, but two judges switched over giving 3 for one of the elements and 2 for the other.)
The Level 4 flying change foot combination spin gained just one +3 and the rest +2s. Her triple Salchow received also just one +3, not from the same judge who gave the one +3 for the Salchow. Seven judges punched in +2 but a solitary critic gave “only” +1 (which is still a level above 0, which means satisfactory in all aspects). Her Level 4 steps were got one +3 from the same judge who gave this award for her previous spin, and the rest +2s.
Her triple Lutz, set when the bonus marks click in, received five +3s and the rest +2s. Then she performed a triple Axel to double toe to double loop, which got a +3 from the generous judge who had previously given +3 for five of her six elements, four +2s and four +1s. Then came a triple Salchow to double toe which earned seven +2s and two +1s. Her layback spin was “only” Level 3 with two +3s and the rest +2s. Her choreographed section three +3s and the rest +2. Her final jump, a double Axel received three +3s and the rest +2s. She finished with a Level 4 change foot combination spin with four +3s and five +2s, bringing the crowd to their feet.
Her component marks included six 10s and went down to four out of a possible five 8.50s from one judge, who had only given her three +3s. What a pity we can’t identify the judges. What fun we could have had booing. Perhaps, that would bring back some of the fans who have gone missing recently.
Kim really does live in a fish bowl. Even this far away from her home country, there were dozens of squealing fans gathered waiting patiently in the bitter cold at the competitors’ exit from the Budweiser Arena in London, to warrant a security force bodily shielding her so she could reach the skaters’ bus. But she still sounds very down-to-earth.
She admitted she had a certain amount of apprehension. “It’s been a while since I last competed at such a big competition like world the championships. I was really nervous actually in the warm session up. But, since I skated last (of six) in the (last warm-up) group, I had enough time to calm down. And, as I did a clean short program, I was happy and this gave me a good energy to prepare for the free skate. I’ve been competing in world (senior) championships since 2007 and I have both good and bad memories. However, this time I had the feeling this could be my last World Championship.
“Before the (2010) Olympics, I was very focused on the results. Now after the Olympics, although the training is very similar, I don’t feel the pressure as much. So I am not that stressed anymore and I can enjoy the moment. I did my best so I knew I would get a good score but I didn’t think it was going to be THAT high. I wasn’t about to cry, although maybe I looked that way, but since I delivered a clean long program, I was just very happy.
“After I decided to come back to compete, I didn’t want to feel the pressure as much, but, like I said, because I am a human, I do want to do well in my skates. I have done my best so far. At the next Olympics, I will do my absolute best, but I will not focus on getting the good result, because if I feel the pressure, I might not deliver such a good skate again.
“After my senior debut (in the 2007 world championship, when she earned bronze), I didn’t have too much experience with delivering clean free programs. However, this season, I managed to do this both at Korean nationals and at these world championships. And here, just like at nationals, I was the 6th skater in the group, so I guess I was sort of used to this feeling. A free program is something that every skater feels pressure about. Since I have such kind of experience right now, I think this gives me some good energy in the future.
“I felt a lot more comfortable doing all the jumps preparing for this season, so doing all the jumps even at the practice session with the music, I felt very comfortable. I think that really helped me to complete all the jumps successfully in the competition. A lot of people told me great things about my (current) program before (she competed), so I was able to enjoy it."
“The Vancouver Olympics was the first competition ever where I completed my short and free programs without any mistakes. That, in itself, is a huge accomplishment. Delivering a clean program requires a lot of practice and I truly believe that if I do practice a lot, I can deliver such perfection once again."
Few really believed Kim would make this return. She did amazingly well to place second in the 2010 world championship a few weeks after the Games. She had had only limited sleep and was exhausted from all the official gatherings she was expected to attend to show off her gold medal.
Although she competed in the 2011 Worlds in Moscow, and was a respectable second, she waited for 20 months before competing again. She was forced into that move because the I.S.U. had thrown out the time-consuming Preliminary Rounds, in favor of a set amount of technical marks which skaters had to achieve in a recognized international event. (In actuality, these standards had to be reduced in all but the ice dance division, in order to attract a sufficient number of world championship entrants.)
Kim’s unexpected entry to the NRW Trophy in December in Dortmund to post the standard, caused all sorts of problems for the Germans. This is a minor league event held in a facility with not many seats. Organizers were immediately besieged with ticket requests as soon as the news broke. (Yes, of course, she won.) Her only other competitive appearance this season was in her national championship.
“I did think about coming back to the ice for a long time and what motivated me is skating is something I am best at,” Kim explained. “It is something I love so I wanted to give it one more try.” Complicating matters is that she is an ambassador for her country’s staging of the next Olympics in Pyeongchang in 2018, which involves many official meetings with the International Olympic Committee.
After winning a second straight world bronze in 2008, Kim won the title in 2009. She hopes that winning the title four years later, with the same 11 month gap to the Olympics, will give her the same result in Sochi, that she earned in Vancouver.
2. Overall 197.89; 3.FS 131.03 (61.34+70.69 -1) While defending World Champion Carolina Kostner stood at the barrier waiting for her name to be announced, the television focused on her coach’s efforts to help her drip something down her right nostril in an effort to stop it bleeding. “I did encounter some difficulties today,” the 26-year-old explained later. “It wasn’t easy because the blood was just running out of my nose, like a river. During my first spin I was still holding my nose, but then I said to myself if you want to finish it you need to let go, and then I just tried to forget about it as much as I could. I think it was the lesson I had to learn here.
“In the end I think I can be proud of myself and very pleased with how it went. I remember having a bleeding nose when I was younger, but I was growing, and I don’t think I am growing now! So I hope it was just a one-time thing.”
Skating 21st of the 24 allowed into the Free Skate, Costner performed to Ravel’s “Bolero”. But, just as she had at the European championships, most unfortunately, she collapsed on her final jump, a triple Salchow, which was given two arrows for a downgrade to double. It was timed to land right on the last notes, so maybe this was her version of the British Olympic champions, Torvill & Dean’s final move in their interpretation of this music. In winning their 1984 Olympic gold, they played thwarted lovers, who climb up and throw themselves into a volcano. They got straight 6.0s for their dramatic, intended sprawl onto the ice, but the I.S.U. passed a subsequent rule forbidding skater to die on the ice.
Kostner also popped her triple loop jump in the middle of the routine. But her opening triple Lutz was dazzlingly high and covered a huge amount of ice. The judges fully recognized the athletic ability shown, and gave three maximum +3 GoE and the six remaining judges gave +2. The following double Axel was good enough for the panel to give one +3 & eight +2s. The following triple flip to triple toe loop combination of jumps also earned one +3, but there were only two +2s and the remaining judges punched in +1. The two “flying” spins which followed were the maximum Level 4 with the change foot combo earning +0.64 and the “camel” gaining +0.86.
After the disaster with the loop, which still earned her +0.51 because five judges deemed it a “satisfactory in all aspects” single loop, she brought off two good jumping passes, a +1.10 triple toe loop to double toe loop and a +1.0 triple Salchow to double toe loop to double loop. After two Level moves, the third spin a change foot combo and her steps which received an extra 0.93 and 1.90, respectively, she presented her “choreographed sequence”, (which is always only Level 1) which earned +1.30 over its base value of 2.0. Then came the unfortunate final flop.
She finished third in this section but was able to hold onto the second place she had earned in the Short Program. Her elements’ score for the Free Skate was only the sixth highest, tied with the U.S. champion, Ashley Wagner, but her components were second best, though they were a large 2.92 points behind Kim.
Kostner was asked to compare this silver with gold last year and silver in 2008 and with her two bronzes, 2011 & 2005. “For me, I didn’t really know what to expect coming here, and now I can go home with a medal. It’s just such a great feeling. Last year, I reached one of my biggest dreams which I earlier had already given up. This year, I felt that I was able to live a part of it and I am so honored to be here. It’s my eleventh Worlds in a row, and it was a special feeling!”
3. Overall 196.47; 2.FS 134.37 (65.96+68.41) Mao Asada and Yuna Kim have been major rivals since Kim took second to Asada in the World Junior championships in Canada in 2005. They were born only 20 days apart in October 1990, the Korean on the 5th in Gyounggi-do and the Japanese in Nagoya 20 days later on the 25th. It was Asada who made the first big impression in the skating world.
This reporter clearly remembers her stunning performance when winning the Junior Grand Prix in September 2004 in Long Beach, CA. Her two-years older sister, Mai, was originally schedule for that event but Mao turned up as a substitute. Her routine, set to “Somewhere over the Rainbow”, included her famed triple Axel.
She won the 2005 world junior title, with Kim quite some distance behind in second. Both were too young for the 2006 Olympics. Later that year, Asada won the Senior Grand Prix Final in Japan, overshadowing the Russian favorite, Irina Slutskaya, who was then the current world champion.
That set off an enormous row in the skating world. It seemed all of Japan took to campaigning to get the age limit for the Olympics reduced. But that did not happen. Another Japanese competitor, Shizuka Arakawa, took gold in Torino while Sasha Cohen earned the silver and Slutskaya the bronze.
Two weeks after watching the Olympics, Asada & Kim competed again in the World Junior Championship and this time, in Ljubliana, Kim decisively dethroned Asada, who was a not close second.
Asada’s showings in London in both sections were flawed. In the Short Program, she had singled her triple loop and lay 6th . She said, “Regarding my free program today, I wanted to execute everything I did in my training, so of course I hated the fact that I missed my triple Axel and my triple-triple combination. During the program I was able to change my mindset quickly and enjoy the skating, I nailed the second part of my program. I really had a good training coming into Worlds and I am very happy about my season.”
Surprisingly, Asada got full credit for rotation for her triple Axel (3½ turns), but had -2.14 removed from its base value of 8.50 because she landed on both feet. The following triple flip got an arrow for slight under-rotation and lost -1.20. Her triple Lutz got an “e” for wrong edge take-off and she was penalized with -0.70 taken off the base value. However, after that her only mistake came on her ninth move when her three-jump combination of triple flip to two double loops got an arrow for slight under-rotation of the second jump, costing her -0.30. Her steps and one spin were Level 4. The other two spins were Level 3.
Skating 22nd of the 24 allowed into the Free Skate, Asada performed to Swan Lake in a sleeveless outfit covered with small white feathers. The highlight of her routine was undoubtedly her last two elements, the steps and the choreographed section. She was rewarded with two +3s for the steps and three +3s for the choreographed section. The judges not giving +3, all gave +2s. In these elements, she delighted the audience with moves from the ballet world. Her component marks included six 9.0s and went down to three 8.0s. Although she was second in this section, she was a huge 13.97 points behind the Korean. Overall Kim was ahead by an astounding 20.42!
Asada explained, “After the Short Program I was sixth (which is where she finished in the previous two World Championships). I thought what am I doing this time? I am very happy that I was able to make the podium after my two-year hiatus. I was doing very well during the warm-up, nailing the Axel.
4. Overall 189.73; 7.FS 123.09 (60.98+62.11) Kanako Murakami, an 18-year-old from Nagoya who finished eighth and fifth in the past two world championships, lay third after the Short Program. She performed a Tango routine to music by Astor Piazzolla, “Oblivion”, “A Fuego Lento” & “Adios Nonino”. Dressed in black, with side cut-outs, she began with a triple Lutz but it was saddled with an “e” for wrong edge take-off but lost only -0.30 from its base value of 6 points. That was followed by a triple loop to double toe loop but the loop was given an arrow for slight under-rotation which cost her -0.70. A second triple loop at the half way stage also got an arrow but lost only -0.30.
All her other moves got positive GoEs except her second triple flip, executed at the half way mark, which was meant to be done as the first jump in a sequence with a double Axel but the Axel turned into a single. She subsequently brought off a triple Salchow to two double toe loops which earned +0.60 over its base value and a triple toe loop which earned a whole point above its base. Her steps and spins were all Level 4 with good GoEs. Her element score was tied with Kostner’s (61.34) in sixth. Her components were the fourth best. However, although she was seventh in the Free, she still gained fourth overall place by 2.39 points ahead of Wagner.
Murakami said, “I could finish this season with a refreshed feeling, because my free program was pretty good. I felt good about my performance. Last season I wasn’t satisfied at all and I was sad with the result, but this season I ended on a high note. Of course, I was so nervous, but could hear lots of cheers from the audience, especially I heard people shouting my name Kanako, Kanako. That helped me a lot. I learned a lot from this experience. So I would like to continue in this good way for the next season.”
5. Overall 187.34; 6.FS 123.36 (61.34+63.02 -1) Ashley Wagner, the twice U.S. champion who was born in Germany, where her father, who was in the Armed Forces, was stationed, was pipped in the Free Skate by her teammate, Gracie Gold, who was making her debut in this event. However, Wagner still stayed ahead of Gold by a substantial 3.09.
Wagner, who finished fourth in Worlds last year, did not have a perfect skate, although the routine was beautifully choreographed, and she presented it extremely well. The 21-year old, who is trained by John Nicks, was boldly dressed in a vibrant orange/gold outfit. She interpreted the gorgeously rich music from Camille Saint Saens’ “Samson & Delilah”.
She opened with a triple flip to double toe to double toe with arms over her head and received an extra 0.70. But then, in her double Axel to triple toe loop combination, she got an arrow for slight under-rotation on the second jump and lost 1.07. The following triple Salchow was good for an extra +0.90. The came a Level 3 flying sit spin which got +0.36 over its base value and a Level 4 layback spin which earned an extra +0.79. Her triple loop, set when the bonus marks click in, received an additional +1.20 along with 10% extra. However, her triple Lutz had -0.30 removed from its base because the Technical Panel gave it an “e” for wrong edge take-off. The following triple loop to double Axel sequence gained an extra +0.40.
Her unfortunate fall on the footwork reduced the Level to 2 and she also lost -0.64 from that lower base. (The difference in the base values for Level 2 and Level 3 footwork is 0.70, and she would have had a positive GoE. The fall could also have influenced her components. So along with the penalty of a point for the fall, all in all, it is just possible she could have overtaken Murakami. But life is full of, ‘What ifs’, and Wagner is more sensible than to worry about “could haves”.
She admitted, “Today, it was definitely a slow skate, but it was clean except for the silly mistake (a fall). It was a twizzle my bad way, my wrong way. That happens in practice every now and then. It was a silly mistake and nothing I’m too worried about. It´s hard to start first (of the top six), with no time to recover from the six-minute warm-up session). But, with our two places (her teammate finished sixth), U.S. ladies will have three spots (the maximum) for the Olympics, and I couldn´t be prouder. We really accomplished something so huge.”
How many skaters qualify for the Olympic Games, is the same as how many qualify for the next season’s Worlds. It depends on that country’s finish in the previous year’s world championship. Wagner’s fifth and Gold’s sixth place finish added up to 11, which was low enough to allow three American women to skate in Sochi.
“I’m so proud of Gracie for keeping her head on her shoulders in this, her first worlds. It’s more than I accomplished my first worlds.” In 2008, in Wagner’s first Worlds, she was a substitute for an injured
entry and ended up in 16th place. That meant the following year, the U.S. was not permitted the full team of three.
“I am so proud of Gracie, - so proud of us. I know when some skaters fall, they get scared. I just tell myself I have to perfect from now on. I didn’t know what to expect for my scores. Next for me is the World Team Trophy (in Japan), so I’ll keep training. Then, there’s the Stars on Ice tour in Canada.
“I was so much more mentally prepared for this season. I felt at the top of my game earlier this season. Then I overbooked myself. I’ve learned a lot this season about how to pace myself going into next year’s Olympics. I felt that I was able to regroup at this worlds from my past two competitions and I’m very proud of what I accomplished.
“I had two really strong Grand Prix competitions and then I did a lot of shows and traveling. When Sochi (site of the Grand Prix Final, which was held there in December as a tryout for the next February’s Games) came around, I was fried. I was still pretty exhausted going into nationals.
6. Overall 184.25; 5.FS 125.40 (65.22+60.18) Gracie Gold, a 17-year-old from the Chicago area, skating 13th , which was first on after the resurfacing, interpreted “Life is Beautiful”, opening with a +0.50 triple Lutz to triple toe loop, a +1.30 double Axel to triple toe loop, a +1.0 triple loop and a Level 4 layback spins which was rewarded with three of the maximum GoEs of +3s with the other six judges giving +2.
Then came another Level 4 spin which gained +0.93 over its base. But she came down on two feet on the following double Axel after getting too close to the boards and that lost her -1.07 from its base value. After a +0.50 triple Lutz, she was saddled with an “e” for wrong take-off edge on her triple flip which was combined with two double toe loops. That meant she lost -0.70 from the moves base value plus 10% because it was in the second half.
Her step sequence was deemed Level 3 and given an extra +0.71 but her last jump, a triple Salchow was a bit over-rotated and she lost -1.20. Her choreographed section got and extra +0.80. She brought the routine to a fine close with a Level 4 combination spin which was so good, it earned one +3 and the rest +2, which meant she got a whole point extra over its base value of 3.50. Her component scores ranged from a low of one 6.50 up to a high of one 8.25.
She said, “I feel pretty good after that skate.” Re getting too close to boards on the double Axel, she said, “It was a little bit of a shock. It kind of brought me back into the zone, into the focus. I reminded myself I still had three big jumping passes left.”
“I’m glad I was able to help get three Olympic spots. For my first worlds, it was important that I put out two strong skates and I think I accomplished that today. I respect the other competitors so much as athletes. What Yuna is able to accomplish is ever more impressive. At the same time, I’m competitive and they are my competitors. I can’t look up to my competitors. I can respect them but I can’t look up to them.
“It surprised me a little bit that it was a really nice score. It was a good surprise. I had a really good practice this morning and my warm up was really good. I’m trying to learn to trust myself. On the warm up, I felt I did that. I was pretty confident going into the skate, more confident than I was at Four Continents or some of my other programs this year. I was nervous, of course, but I knew I had to keep my nerves in check, and I did.
“Coming off of Omaha (where the U.S. Nationals were held, even though Four Continents wasn’t my best, having a skate like that at nationals, you can feel confident for a while after. I have to learn to trust myself. Like I said earlier, watching Yu-na Kim - that confidence! She looks like she knows that she is going to hit everything. I train my programs all the time. I’m a hard worker. I really have to let my body do that on the ice and not get my thoughts trapped in. I think this is a really important step for me in a big competition and I’m glad I was able to execute both programs well.
“The Olympics are something that we dream of. You watch every two years (Summer & Winter) and that’s sort of your ultimate goal. I get really excited. I get motivated. I’m excited to come back and work toward next year. I hate to think I’m peaking too early or late. I think I’m on the right track.
I feel like I did a very strong performance. I delivered a clean skate. However, it wasn’t my best. The long program is my favorite so I am very happy that I did well. I feel like I did my job. I hope the impression I have left on the judges is that I should be here, that I’m competitive and they should keep their eye on me!”
7. Overall 183.85; 4.FS 127.54 (69.41+58.13) The 3-time Chinese champion, Zijun Li from Beijing, who trains in Changchung with Mingzhu Li, presented a routine created by Lori Nichol set to Tchaikovski’s music for the ballet, “Sleeping Beauty”, which advanced her five places from her Short Program standing. This is her world senior debut, but in the 2011 & 2012 world junior championships, she finished 9th & 5th . She turned 16 on December 14.
She said, “It was a personal best for me. I was very happy that I was able to show both programs at a high level here at the World Championships. I am very excited that this time I got no under-rotations on my jumps. It is a shame that I made an error in the short program. I am happy that I was able to earn two spots for the Chinese team for the next Olympic Games. This was a good experience for me. I learned how to calm down and to focus at such a big competition.” (Her teammate, Kexin Zhang, was 7th last year, finished 22nd here, after falling on her opening move, a jump combination of triple toe loop to double toe loop, which got an arrow for slight under-rotation on both jumps.)
8. Overall 176.82; 10.FS 112.09 (53.49+60.60 -2) Kaetlyn Osmond, the new Canadian Champion, who turned 17 on December 5, and is trained in Edmonton by Ravi Walia, drew to skate immediately after Asada and before Kim. She skated to music from “Carmen”, which was really not a good choice in a season when the her national and Olympic champions were interpreting this lovely music. In any case, Carmen is not a character a youngster should be playing.
She fell twice, on her sixth element, a triple flip, and on the following triple toe loop which was meant to be combined with two double toe loops. That was very costly, dropping her four places from her Short Program standing. Nevertheless she gushed, “It’s exciting. It means a lot, to finish top 10. Overall, the experience here has been unbelievable. My goal was a top 10 finish, and now we have two spots for the Olympics. I am excited. It wasn’t a perfect performance - I started strong. It’s my first Worlds and I am happy with it. I feel great about the performance. I have learned so much. I can add this to my training experience, being on ice with great energy from the crowd. I was 4th after the short, went down a little in the long, but finished strong.”
9. Overall 175.98; 9.FS 116.36 (55.73+60.63) Adelina Sotnikova, a 16-year-old from Moscow, who earned the silver in the recent European championships in her first entry, interpreted the song, “At Last” and music from the movie “Burlesque” which seemed a bit too adult. She has very high jumps. She began with a triple Lutz to triple toe loop, getting an “e” for wrong edge take-off on the first jump and an arrow for slight under-rotation on the toe loop, which looked a bit strained. However, the following triple flip and triple loop earned a nice +1.20 and +0.70 over their base values. Her first spin, a flying camel got the top Level 4 with +0.79. However, a double Axel to triple toe loop got an arrow on the second landing and lost -0.57. She was unable to hold the landing of her next jump, a triple flip and had to put her hand on the ice to keep from falling so she wasn’t able to combine the jump with the planned two double toe loops. The following double Axel was landed but with a spray of ice chips.
However, the following triple Salchow earned +0.30 over its base, and the subsequent two Level 4 moves, the layback spin and the steps, were rewarded with +0.79 and+1.40. She finished with a Level 3 spin and the choreographed sequence which gained an extra 0.64 and 0.90 respectively.
She said, somewhat optimistically, “Except for one jump, I did my job and I was able to overcome myself and could do the combination somehow. It was hard to skate. Somehow I think it is tough to skate on this continent. It was already hard in (Skate America), especially at the end it was hard. I realized that I had done almost everything (I wanted to) this season and I did well at the European and World Championships.
10. Overall 174.24; 8.FS 119.52 (62.28+57.24) Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, skated 10th , seven places earlier than her Russian teammate, Sotnikova. Tuktamysheva, who trains in St. Petersburg, is also 16, but five months younger. She interpreted the music “Dark Eyes”. She earned the bronze in his first entry in the recent European championship.
She opened with a base value triple Lutz to double toe loop followed by a second triple Lutz which lost -0.40. Then came a triple Lutz which earned an extra +0.40. Her layback spin and the steps were only Level 2 and 3 respectively with +0.64 and +0.50. When the bonus time clicked in, she executed a double Axel to triple toe loop and triple Salchow to double toe loop to double loop, both of which earned +0.80. Her flying sit spin was only Level 1 and had -0.04 removed from its base value. She ended with a triple loop (+0.90), the choreographed section (+0.90), a double Axel (+0.43) and a Level 4 change foot combination spin (+0.64).
She said, “I am very pleased. Before the start I felt a little uncomfortable but I rate this performance very highly. I’d give it a 5 plus (5 is the highest grade in the Russian school system). I don’t know why I often do better in the free than in the short. Maybe I am less nervous. Obviously you have to try your best in the free for each element, but there are more jumps and you have a chance to correct something. There is less pressure than in the short program.
11. Overall 165.03; 11.FS 108.13 (55.62+52.51) Mae Berenice Meite, an 18-year-old Parisian who has never won the French title, finished 14th in her world debut in 2011 but was very disappointed not to compete last year when the event was in Nice in her home country. She performed in an elaborate outfit to several Egyptian pieces of music. Her first element, a triple flip was shaky and she lost -0.90, and the following triple Lutz received a slight negative, -0.20, but all her other moves gained positive GoEs. However, she received only one Level 4, which was for her change foot combination spin. She maintained her standing from the Short Program.
She said, “I felt some pressure before I went out to perform because my legs felt weak. But then when I started I had more confidence because I had a very good preparation and a good practice. Since last year when I couldn’t compete at worlds, I had to think a lot about what we had to change, so we worked hard to make me progress. For next season, I want to keep working hard to put in some more difficulties. As for the new programs, I am still not sure what to do, but I definitely want to be different from the others.”
12. Overall 164.59; 13.FS 103.42 (44.49+59.93) Akiko Suzuki, who turns 28 on March 28, and has never been Japanese champion although she was the runner-up in 2010, won bronze in last year’s World championship, so obviously she was not pleased with dropping from seventh after Short Program. She admitted, “I wanted to show what I am capable of but I couldn’t, so I am very disappointed. I learned from this experience and must try to continue to brush up my skills. I wanted to contribute to the Japanese team getting three spots, also for myself, but it was not possible.”
13. Overall 159.06; 14.FS 102.76 (48.11+55.65 -1) Alena Leonova was ninth in the last Olympics and second in last year’s world championship but the 22-year-old from St. Petersburg did not show anything like her previous skill. She was only 7th in this season’s Russian championship. Skating to “Adagio for Strings” and “Requiem for a Tower”, she might as well have been giving a Requiem for herself.
Although she opened with a +0.40 combination of two triple toe loops, two of her later jumps got arrows for slight under-rotation, her Lutz got an “e” for wrong edge take-off, and she fell on her triple Salchow. However, her straight line Level 3 steps earned a +3, seven +2s and one +1. She stayed 13th .
She admitted, “I had a lot of ups and downs in my performance. I sometimes landed on two feet and it was a shame for the fall on the Salchow and the light over-rotation on the Axel. But I am happy I did the Lutz and the second flip later on in my program. For the next season, I’ll have to work hard and prepare myself for a tough season, of course, since we’ll have the Olympics. And concerning the programs, we still have to think what we will do.”
14. Overall 158.80; 15.FS 100.44 (45.12+55.32 -1) Viktoria Helgesson always looks good on the ice but her beginning double flip showed what direction the Swede’s skating was about to take. She admitted, “It felt bad. I couldn’t get the flow. I did some jumps well, and practices went well. We have one more competition in Sweden this season. Then, I will take some vacation, and then start working on next season’s programs. I would have like a top 10 finish so my sister and I could skate at Olympics next year. But my skate was enough tonight.”