1999 World Champion Maria Butyrskaya (RUS) skated her short program from last season, "Scene d'amour". She opened with a high triple Lutz-double toe loop combination but she stumbled on her triple flip. Her speed, flow on the ice and her spirals still gave her the edge over her competitors, and she won the short program. "I tried the triple flip in the short for the first time, and it gave me so much trouble", Butyrskaya said. "I'm glad that I landed it the way I did."
Sarah Hughes CUSA), came in second. At 15 years of age, she was the youngest competitor at the event. The American landed a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and a triple flip in her romantic program to 'Vocalise" by Sergei Rachmaninov. "I'm very happy with how I skated", said Hughes, who was nunner-up at Skate America two weeks ago. "It was an improvement from last time. I felt like it was a good performance. Not only the jumps, also the in-betweens were good."
France's Vanessa Gusmeroli, opened with a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and pulled off a triple flip, to finish third in the Short Program. However, she looked a bit slow overall and seemed to lack confidence. "I held back", Gusmeroli admitted. "I was very nervous, my spins were slow. It still was a decent performance for the first competition this season."
U.S. Silver Medallist Sasha Cohen skated a clean program, to finish fourth . "There are a lot of great skaters I usually watch on TV", said the 16-year-old about her first senior Grand Prix event. "It is neat to compete with them."
1999 Four Continents Champion Tatyana Malinina doubled her flip and placed fifth.
The leader after the short program, Maria Butyrskaya, was the first to skate in the last warm-up group. The 1999 World Champion had a determined look on her face - intent on redeeming herself after her mistake in the Short Program. Butyrskaya opened her long program with a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination and went on to do a triple fip - the jump she had stumbled on in the short protgram - as well as her triple toe loop - half loop - triple Salchow combination. Overall the program contained six triples and a double Axel, as well as a nice spiral sequence. For the first time in her career, the World Bronze Medallist landed two triple Lutzs in her program. This season, Butyrskaya had opted for a very romantic, flowing program set to music from the Russian Movie "17 Moments in Spring". After she finished her performance, she couldn't hide her joy. Butyrskaya got marks up to 5.8, both for technique and presentation. Five judges voted for first place, three for second and one for third. "This was my first competition, and I was very nervous as usual, because it's a new season and I have new programs. My free program is completely new for me, and I didn't know what mistakes I had to expect; I'm very, very happy with my performance."
Next to skate was French Champion Vanessa Gusmeroli, third after the Short Program. Skating to the soundtrack of "Jeanne d'Arc" and dressed in silver, Gusmeroli started with a triple Lutz, but stepped out of it. Her program went downhill from then on, and the 22-year-old managed to pull off only one triple jump - a toe loop. She dropped three places and finished sixth overall.
Tatyana Malinina of Uzbekista, fifth in the short, saw the marks of her competitor and she knew that the doors were suddenly wide open for her to move up. She seized the chance and delivered a clean program that featured an excellent triple Lutz and four more triples plus two double Axels and fast, centered spins. Malinina surged from fifth to third and captured the bronze medal. It was a personal triumph for the skater who had been handicapped last season by various injuries, finishing a distant eighteenth place at the 2000 Worlds in Nice. "I only can say that I'm very pleased", the 1999 Four Continents Champion said. "My husband helped me to come back, and I'm really grateful for that". (Malinina's husband Roman Skorniakov, competed in the Mens' event and finished seventh.)
Sarah Hughes (USA) skated next to last. She fell on her second jump in an attempted triple Salchow - triple loop combination; but overall her lively program to "Don Quixote" contained six triples and a strong layback spin. The 15-year-old finished second in the free skating and second overall, claiming her second silver medal in her second Grand Prix event this season. "It wasn't my best, but I felt improved from Skate America. I was faster, and I added a second triple lutz", commented Hughes.
Butyrskaya won 12 points and will be skating again for points at Trophee Lalique in two weeks. Sarah Hughes scored 9 points and chose Cup of Russia, next week, as her second-scoring event. Malinia currently has 7 points and will be competing at the NHK Trophy in Japan.
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