(Total points = 0.5 * short program + long program)
A mere 24 hours after the conclusion of the Parade of Champions exhibition at the world championships in Edmonton, Alberta, just about the entire U.S. team took part in yet another competition. Flown to Boston on a chartered plane, the skaters barely had time to absorb their worlds performances, much less acclimate themselves to the 2 hour time change and spring like temperatures after the frigid weather in Edmonton, before it was time to compete in a team format with and against a group of "ineligible" U.S. skaters.
The arena, the same used in the finals of the Riders Ladies Cup Championship, was barely half full, which was disappointing considering the caliber of those competing and the skating exhibitions, and that the men's champion hails from Massachusetts and is the first skater from there to win a world title since Tenley Albright won her last world championship in 1955!. Local skater, five year old, Kelly O'Grady was back as one of the flower girls and handed out the bottled water to the competitors in the "Kiss and Cry," area.
All three men; Todd Eldredge, Rudy Galindo and Dan Hollander, along with two of the women; Michelle Kwan, and Tonia Kwiatkowski, were joined by 1995 U.S. Champion Nicole Bobek. Tara Lipinski skated an exhibition number, along with the three pairs teams and ice dancers Renee Roca and Gorsha Sur.
The six professional skaters were 1976 Olympic Champion, Dorothy Hamill; 1988 Olympic Silver medalist, Rosalynn Sumners; 1992 Olympic Silver medalist, Paul Wylie; 1987 world bronze medalist, Caryn Kadavy; National medalist, Mark Mitchell, now coaching at Skating Club of Boston; and Michael Weiss.
Again a team format was utilized with eligible and ineligible skaters competing together and because the event took place in Boston, each was given the name of a local sports team; Bruins (NHL), Celtics (NBA) and Red Sox (AL). Separate rules were in effect for the amateurs and professionals but all were permitted the use of vocals in their musical selection. For scoring the short and long programs, the high and low score on a scale of 0 - 6.0 from each of the two sets of marks awarded to the individual skater were dropped, and the scores for all four members of the team were combined for a grand total. To obtain the final totals, the sum of half the short program totals were added to the long program totals.
All of the amateurs used their competition short programs from this season in the initial phase of the competition and surprisingly skated quite well. Only Bobek had problems, falling on her triple Lutz and omitting the second jump. A touch down with her hand on the triple toe loop and losing her edge on the final element; a combination spin nevertheless earned her straight marks of 5.7 for Skating Technique and 5.8-5.9 for Artistic Presentation.
Kwan, Kwiatkowski and Galindo all skated clean and solid programs. Kwan received nine marks of 6.0 for Artistic Presentation. Her stamina and concentration in what has been a grueling schedule for her is remarkable.
Hollander fell on his triple Axel attempt, but bounced right back up to add the double toe loop. Eldredge skated great, landing a solid triple Axel/double toe loop combination but then two-footed and stumbled out on the landing of the triple Lutz.
Sumners, working with Mitchell's former coach, Rona Gladstone, used her "Hello Dolly," show number and included two double Axles in the program.
Utilizing his most reliable jump, Mitchell executed a perfect triple loop/double toe loop combination and a solo triple toe loop, doubling an intended triple Lutz, but skated with flow and good line.
Kadavy, looking elegant in black stirrups with black velvet jacket trimmed with white cuffs and rhinestone buttons, landed a triple toe loop/double toe loop combination but stepped out of the landing of the double Axel.
Weiss wore green face paint and interpreted "Frankenstein," by Edgar Winter, landing one triple but popping an Axel. Later in the number he executed a solid double Axel.
Hamill, who still remains popular with skating audiences and skating to a Barbra Streisand song, landed three double jumps including the Axel and effectively utilized fast, well positioned spins but fell for no apparent reason while gliding backwards across the ice. Afterwards she made light of the fall shrugging her shoulders and rubbing her bottom to much laughter from the crowd.
Wylie received a standing ovation for his "Apollo 13," program which included 3 triples; flip, toe walley and a superb Lutz as well as a double Axel and his usual array of spreadeagles, fast footwork and blur spins.
Lipinski landed three clean triples in her exhibition number to prove the USFSA made the right decision sending her to Worlds instead of the inconsistent Bobek.
Roca and Sur showed off their Paso Doble original dance with her effective use of a cape attached to her costume, one of the few correct interpretations seen at the world championships.
Throws, lifts and adagio elements were included by the three exhibiting pairs couples and each was warmly received.
The second day of the team Pro-Am competition saw almost a full capacity audience courtesy of blocks of tickets purchased by a local supemarket chain: Stop & Shop, and awarded to contest winners in sets of four. In addition to Olympic and World Champions, Peggy Fleming and Dick Button, who wrere on hand to handle commentary for the telecast scheduled next month on ABC, Dr. Tenley Albright of Boston and Carol Heiss, Olympic Champions in 1956 and 1960 respectively were introduced to the audience.
The skating order was determined by members of each team and Bobek was first up. After starting on the ice in a split position and demonstrating her trademark spiral, things went quickly downhill. Falls on two triples, a Salchow doubled, an Axel singled and a spin that travelled left her with the lowest scores of the evening and deseservedly so. She appeared the least prepared and had better get her act together in a hurry or will find herself on the outside looking in, while younger skaters like Lipinski continue to pass her by.
Most of the eligible skaters with the exception of Galindo and Bobek used this season's competition free skate program. Kiatkowski landed four clean triples including two Lutz jumps, turning out only on the landing of the triple loop. The audience appreciated her effort more than the judges at the World Championships.
Hollander appeared to be mentally and physically fatigued by the tight scheduling of this competition, turning on the landing of two triples, putting his hand down on another and falling on his second triple Axel attempt; nevertheless, a triple Lutz/double toe loop combination and a back flip with cartwheel at the end of the program kept him competitive with the rest of the field.
Weiss was hoping to avenge his poor showing at Nationals with a clean skate here, but the program, to music by Santana, packed with triple may have been too ambitious. Six triples were clean but no triple Axel was among them. On the final triple, a Lutz. he was forced to put his hand to the ice to steady the landing.
Kadavy's outfit was once again elegant and understated. A black velvet bodice cut low in the back with gold sequin trim topped a sheer black skirt. Her classical music selection was nicely interpreted and included a variety of double jumps, highlighted by two double Axels.
Kwan continues to amaze with her steadiness and focus. Her "Salome," free skate included all the elements attempted at the World Championships. The only error was a turn with her free foot down on the triple loop. Again she put a triple toe loop in at the end to compensate for the triple toe loop/double toe loop.
Sumners choose her show piece, "Remember Me This Way," and her expression and smile were rewarded with a loud ovation from the appreciative audience. Two double Axle jumps also impressed the judges.
Mitchell reprised his popular disco exhibition program with songs by Patrick Hernandez and the Village People. He landed two triples, falling on a third, when it appeared the rotation finished on the ice. He again did not include any Axel jumps.
When Hamill was introduced as the 1969 U.S. Novice Champion she laughingly held her back and mimed walking with the assistance of a cane. Skating to "Pie Jesu," from Andrew Lloyd Webber's, "Requiem," she received a standing ovation from the crowd and a host of 6.0's from the judges for artistic presentation. Jumps only included a single Axel and a double toe loop but fast, centered spins and a smile that lit up the arena showed that she still has what it takes to compete with the worlds best.
Wylie followed also earning a rousing standing ovation for his "On The Waterfront," program. The intensely dramatic interpretation coupled with a complete package of technical elements, including triple flip, toe loop and Lutz jumps set the standard for the last two skaters to match.
Galindo choose his exhibition piece unveiled in Edmonton. Skating in black with a red ribbon showing his support for AIDS victims wrapped around him, the program is heartfelt and moving. He also completed three triple jumps including the loop and Axel.
Eldredge electrified the hometown crowd with his free skate packed with triples including the Axel. Strong footwork, fast centered spins and good expression made him the evenings unofficial individual winner with straight 6.0's for both sets of marks tallied. A 5.9 in artistic presentation awarded by Kathleen Kelly Cutone was negated as high and low marks were thrown out and she was soundly booed by the spectators.
Afterwards it was learned that no actual prize money was awarded, all participants having negotiated appearance fees. Maybe Nancy Kerrigan's remarks made earlier this season that there is no incentive to try hard under these circumstances had influenced Bobek's attitude toward the event. It did serve to diminish all the hoopla about announcing each judges marks.
Exhibition numbers were again presented by the three top ranked pairs couples, Roca & Sur, Lipinski and the Haydenettes, a synchronized skating from Lexington, Mass, who skated a fast paced, intricate number to music from the film, "Victor, Victoria. Despite initial misgivings, the event was of a high technical standard and the skaters appeared to be having a good time with the team format and the appreciative audience.
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