2004

Four Continents Championships

Ladies Event

All photos Copyright 2004 by George S. Rossano

 
Standings
Place Skater Country SP FS
1

Yukina Ota

JPN 3 2
2

Cynthia Phaneuf

CAN 8 1
3

Amber Corwin

USA 1 5
4

Joannie Rochette

CAN 6 3
5 Jennifer Robinson CAN 4 4
6

Yukari Nakano

JPN 5 6
7

Angela Nikodinov

USA 2 9
8

Yoshie Onda

JPN 7 7
9

Yan Liu

CHN 10 8
10

Joanne Carter

AUS 9 10
11 Miriam Manzano AUS 12 11
12 Dan Fang CHN 11 12
13

Jennifer Don

USA 13 13
14 Fan Zhang CHN 14 14
15 Michelle Cantu MEX 16 15
16

Shirene Human

RSA 15 16
17

Bit-Na Park

KOR 17 18
18 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB 20 17
19 Sarah-Yvonne Prytula AUS 18 19
20

Diane Chen

TPE 19 21
21 Gladys Orozco MEX 24 20
22 Sun-Bin Lee KOR 23 22
23 Jeanna-Anne Buys RSA 21 23
24 Abigail Pietersen RSA 22 24
25 Eun-Byui Cho KOR 25 -
26 Anny Hou YPE 26 -

 

Short Program

 
Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Yoshie Onda

  2. Joannie Rochette

  3. Sarah-Yvonne Prytula

  4. Jeanna-Anne Buys

  5. Jennifer Don

  6. Dan Fang

  7. Angela Nikodinov

  8. Yukari Nakano

  9. Anastasia Gimazetdinova

  10. Miriam Manzano

  11. Abigail Pietersen

  12. Gladys Orozco

  13. Anny Hou

  14. Joanne Carter

  15. Fan Zhang

  16. Eun-Byui Cho

  17. Shirene Human

  18. Cynthia Phaneuf

  19. Amber Corwin

  20. Yan Liu

  21. Yukina Ota

  22. Michelle Cantu

  23. Jennifer Robinson

  24. Bit-Na Park

  25. Diane Chen

  26. Sun-Bin Lee

 

Short Program Placements
Place Skater Country
1

Amber Corwin

USA
2

Angela Nikodinov

USA
3

Yukina Ota

JPN
4 Jennifer Robinson CAN
5

Yukari Nakano

JPN
6

Joannie Rochette

CAN
7

Yoshie Onda

JPN
8

Cynthia Phaneuf

CAN
9

Joanne Carter

AUS
10

Yan Liu

CHN
11 Dan Fang CHN
12 Miriam Manzano AUS
13

Jennifer Don

USA
14 Fan Zhang CHN
15

Shirene Human

RSA
16 Michelle Cantu MEX
17

Bit-Na Park

KOR
18 Sarah-Yvonne Prytula AUS
19

Diane Chen

TPE
20 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB
21 Jeanna-Anne Buys RSA
22 Abigail Pietersen RSA
23 Sun-Bin Lee KOR
24 Gladys Orozco MEX
25 Eun-Byui Cho KOR
26 Anny Hou YPE


Amber Corwin

Angela Nikodinov


Eight time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan has never competed in the Four Continents event, and she was not about to change her winning strategy this year. Sasha Cohen was exhausted after fighting off shingles before Nationals, and wanted to recover fully before Worlds. Jennifer Kirk was so sick at Nationals, she said that during her long program all she could think of was how embarrassing it was going to be if she threw up all over the ice. She was still fighting off the flu when she got home.

So the ranking American at this event was Amber Corwin, who was fourth at the recent Nationals. Her teammates were Angela Nikodinov (5th in Atlanta) and Jennifer Don (8th in Atlanta).  A.P. McDonough, who placed 6th in Atlanta, declined the invitation and Beatrisa Liang (ranked 7th in the U.S.) was too young to compete here.

Corwin, who won silver in the inaugural Four Continents event in Halifax in 1999, lived up to her responsibility and took the lead. The 25 year old did justice to herself with a very sophisticated, mature performance in which she soared into a combination of two triple toe loops, and interpreted every nuance of her Moon River music.

"The triple toe loop-triple toe loop is my trademark, so Iíve got to do it," she explained. "Itís my secret weapon. It feels good to be on the top. I feel stronger than ever now. Itís like a whole new stage in my life. I feel fabulous out there. I felt like I was flying. Even the little things felt so strong. It was like magical.

"I feel about the same, as at Nationals. Right now itís the same expectations, maybe even more, because I was happy with my performance at Nationals and I have new goals and new qualities and standards that I set for myself. Itís frustrating, but itís also motivating (to compete in the U.S. where it is difficult to make the team for Worlds). This is like my World Championships, because Iím not going to Worlds."

Corwin, who is trained by Charlene Wong in Harbor City in the greater Los Angeles area, gained marks which included two 5.6s for technical merit and two 5.8s for presentation. She was competing with so many youngster, but sheís not intimidated. "My coach and I joke. Iím like a fine wine. Iím getting better with age."

She was not the oldest woman. That distinction belonged to Miriam Manzano, the three time Australian champion, who will be 29 on Valentineís day. Manzano was 12th, three places below her teammate, Joanne Carter.

Nikodinov, who took second place, performed her short seventh of the 26 women from ten countries, and was also glorious, performing to Just For You by Giovanni in a whispery blue creation. She ran through all eight elements including a "held skate high kick" in her spiral sequence.

It was a very womanly performance, reminiscent of those she presented when finishing 12th, 9th and 5th in the 1999, 2000 and 2001 world championships. Her path took a downward path since then with illness and injury. In November 2001, a beloved coach died and in nationals, a short time afterwards she was forced to withdraw.

"In February 2003 I underwent surgery for a shoulder I had dislocated twice very badly, and did not return to the ice for six months. When you do that you worry that you might not be able to return." Perhaps her bad times are finally over.

She said, "We just had nationals which helped me remember how to compete again. There is a lot less pressure on me at this event. I just love skating in Canada. I was real relaxed out there Ė didnít doubt myself. Iím looking forward to the long program."

The 23 year old who is trained by Igor Pashkevich, took the lead and held it until Corwin, who drew 19th, skated.

Don, who skated fifth, completed a lovely triple toe to double toe but fell on her triple Salchow and failed to execute a layback. She placed 13th. "On the Sal, I donít think I jumped high enough. I was pretty happy with the toe and with the spins that I did. I donít know what happened (re the layback). A total mind blank, I guess. It never happened to me before like that, never in the short program. I didnít find out until Thursday evening that I was coming here. Iím really happy just to be here. A lot of that (mistake) has to do with lack of training beforehand. We only had Thursday, Friday to skate."

Instead of their top three women, the Japanese sent their fourth, fifth and seventh ranked competitors, Yoshie Onda, Yukina Ota and Yukari Nakano.

It was Ota, who did best. She gave an extremely interesting, artistic interpretation of unusual music, Picassoís Dance, Omotai which included many different but graceful arm moves. Her layback spin was excellent and she competently brought off the other seven elements, including triple Lutz to double toe combination and a solo triple flip.

Two judges thought she deserved first place, two others second but the majority decided she should be third.

Her teammates, Nakano and Onda placed fifth and seventh.

Yakari, who won a bronze in this event last year, under-rotated and stepped out of  her triple Axel (nearly falling in the process), which was to be her combination. After she stepped out of it, she did a double toe instead of planned triple toe. "I landed the triple Axel in both short and free program at Japanese Nationals. Today, I felt very nervous. I even stumbled on my footwork. Because the triple Axel is my first element, I focused on it."

Onda, who drew to skate first, was forced to do a double three turn on the ice between her triple Lutz and the double toe. Her triple flip was landed but only with a slight struggle, and she had to execute a double three after the double Axel.

She excused herself declaring, "After Japanese Nationals, I caught a cold. I had fever the last four days, 38-39 degrees. Today is the first day without fever. The medicine got it down. Iím always tired, and my muscles feel different. After Nationals I continued to train very hard and my practices went well, but then I got sick. Today was my first run through since I got sick."

Jennifer Robinson is having her revenge on the upstart who dethroned her at Canadian nationals. She is fourth while Cynthia Phaneuf is eighth.

Attired in a sexy outfit which showed off her belly button beneath black chiffon, interpreting Tangosain and Welcome to Cuba, Robinson brought off a triple Lutz to double toe loop (instead of planned triple toe), but looked confident throughout the rest of the 2 minute 40 second routine. Her placements comprised a second, two thirds, three fourths, a fifth, a sixth, and a ninth from a judge who may have decided her triple flip was cheated.

Phaneuf, skating in virginal white to The Promise by Rolf Lovland performed by Secret Garden, had an unfortunate performance. The youngster, who turned 16 on January 16, did not show the mastery she demonstrated in Edmonton at Canadian Nationals.

She fell on her opening move, a triple Lutz that was to have been combined with a double toe loop and put her hand down on the triple flip. Her marks ranged from 4.2 up to 4.9 for the first set, and 5.2 up to 5.7 for presentation.

Phaneuf had finished only seventh nationally in 2003. The year before she was second at Junior level. Because of her inexperience, Skate Canada decided not to send her to Worlds, although they plan for her to attend as a spectator. She will, however, compete in World Juniors.

It is clear from the fact that the top eight competitors are from just three countries, that the United States, Canada and Japan are in a class miles ahead of the nations permitted in these championships.

The Chinese look promising. Their competitors, Yan Liu, Dan Fang and Fan Zhang, placed 10th, 11th and 14th in the short program.

 

Free Skating

 
Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Abigail Pietersen

  2. Gladys Orozco

  3. Sun-Bin Lee

  4. Diane Chen

  5. Anastasia Gimazetdinova

  6. Jeanna-Anne Buys

  7. Jennifer Don

  8. Fan Zhang

  9. Bit-Na Park

  10. Shirene Human

  11. Michelle Cantu

  12. Sarah-Yvonne Prytula

  13. Miriam Manzano

  14. Yoshie Onda

  15. Yan Liu

  16. Cynthia Phaneuf

  17. Joanne Carter

  18. Dan Fang

  19. Jennifer Robinson

  20. Amber Corwin

  21. Joannie Rochette

  22. Yukina Ota

  23. Angela Nikodinov

  24. Yukari Nakano

 

Free Skating Placements
Place Skater Country
1

Cynthia Phaneuf

CAN
2

Yukina Ota

JPN
3

Joannie Rochette

CAN
4 Jennifer Robinson CAN
5

Amber Corwin

USA
6

Yukari Nakano

JPN
7

Yoshie Onda

JPN
8

Yan Liu

CHN
9

Angela Nikodinov

USA
10

Joanne Carter

AUS
11 Miriam Manzano AUS
12 Dan Fang CHN
13

Jennifer Don

USA
14 Fan Zhang CHN
15 Michelle Cantu MEX
16

Shirene Human

RSA
17 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB
18

Bit-Na Park

KOR
19 Sarah-Yvonne Prytula AUS
20 Gladys Orozco MEX
21

Diane Chen

TPE
22 Sun-Bin Lee KOR
23 Jeanna-Anne Buys RSA
24 Abigail Pietersen RSA


Cynthia Phaneuf



Yukina Ota



Amber Corwin


It was an evening the American women would like to forget. The smell of week old mackerel filled the arena, although, at least Amber Corwin gained the bronze.

Though gold went to Yukina Ota of Japan, the night belonged to Cynthia Phaneuf, the 16 year old Canadian, who won the free skating with a magical performance which rocketed her from eighth after the short into the silver medal position.

Corwin, who had been in the lead, dropped to third with a fifth ranked free, while Angela Nikodinov went from second to seventh place with a ninth place in the free. Jennifer Don was a mediocre 13th throughout the event.

Yukina Ota, who was third in the Short Program, skated to the ethereal tones of Ravelís Daphnis and Chloe wearing a beautiful light blue dress. But she gave a flawed showing, which her soft music made even more obvious. She began with triple Lutz to double toe, double Axel and flying camel, but then two footed the landing of the triple flip.

She brought off the triple loop and triple Salchow but fell on her triple Lutz. She completed a nice layback spin and a triple toe to double toe combination. She was fortunate that others made so many mistakes which allowed her to gain second place in the free and take the top step on the podium.

She said, "Iím very surprised. I canít believe it. When I came here, I didnít expect to win a medal let alone win the competition. I just wanted to skate well. After the mistakes, I just focused on the next elements." She revealed the words that her coach, Mie Hamad, shouted to her from the barrier while she was skating, were "Speed! Speed"

Cynthia Phaneuf showed her great potential with a beautifully light, enjoyable performance in which she didnít put a foot wrong. Attired in a simple pale pink practice outfit, and skating to the music Quelques Jeux Interdits by Dompienne, (it means A Few Forbidden Games), she began with a double Axel, triple loop, triple Lutz, triple toe loop and a flying camel. Then came a triple flip, circular step sequence and a very nice triple Lutz to double toe. A triple Salchow, change foot combination spin, spiral sequence, triple toe loop to double toe, layback spin and upright spin brought the showing to a conclusion as she put her finger to her lips in a classic "Shhh!"

Her marks went from 5.3 to 5.7 on the first set and three 5.5s up to two 5.8s on the second set. She said, "I did well. It was perfect for me. Itís what I did in practice. I knew I would skate well. I had another nosebleed after the warm-up (but) I knew I had more time for it to stop before I skated."

Corwin had looked good in practice, reflecting her superb form when she won the short yesterday, but it was obvious right from her opening move, her signature combination of two triple toe loops which became triple-double, she was off. The following triple Lutz was low, and her new combination of two triple loops became triple to double. She did her double Axel but fell on her triple flip. The triple Salchow became a double and she fell in her straight line step sequence. The routine was performed to Book of Secrets by L. McKennitt.

So what was the secret of this disaster so very different from yesterdayís showing?  She said, "I feel that I fought hard tonight. I was nervous, more nervous that I would have liked but I held it together. In the past there have been times when after a mistake I would loose it but tonight wasnít like that."

About the surprising fall on the footwork, she said, "I knew this was the last element so I tried to put as much expression in it as possible and just lost it." Considering the way she skated her marks were generous, ranging from two 4.7s up to one 5.5 for the first set, and two 5.1s up to one 5.7.

Joannie Rochette, who has been runner-up for the Canadian title for the past two years, was sixth in the short and third in the long which pulled her up to fourth overall. She said, before she discovering her final position, "Iím disappointed. Iíve done good run-throughs in practice and I didnít skate to my full potential tonight. I wasnít nervous. Tonightís skate was below average. Just before Nationals, I was doing clean run-throughs during practice. I wanted to bring that to tonightís skate."

Rochette began with a nice triple loop and then did a sequence of triple flip and triple toe loop but struggled to hold the landing of the first jump. Her flying camel and spiral step sequence were ok but then she fell on her triple Lutz. A subsequent triple flip was doubled. But there was a good sequence of triple toe loop and triple Salchow. She put her hand down on the double Axel. Her marks ranged, on the first set, from one 4.9 up to one 5.5, and on the second set, from one 5.1 up to three 5.6s.

Jennifer Robinson finished fifth despite placing fourth in both short and long. She looked gorgeous in a shimming lavender outfit that looked as if it weighted no more than an ounce or so and her music, Prelude to Afternoon of a Faun, suited her. She began with a triple Lutz sequenced with a triple toe loop. But she made a mess of her triple flip, having to hop to save herself from falling.

Her combination of triple Salchow to triple loop was flawed with the second jump rotated only two and a half times but the following flying camel was great with a transition to a forward inside edge and finishing with an illusion. Another camel spin progressed from back inside to forward outside edge and into a pull-up position.

She had a struggle with the landing of the triple loop and the landing of her triple Lutz was almost a standstill. She left out a planned triple toe and rocked a little on the following change foot combination spin. She finished with a layback spin.

Despite the errors, Robinsonís performance was very womanly and extremely graceful. Her marks ranged from two 4.9s up to two 5.3s for the first set and two 5.2s up to three 5.5s for the second set.

"I think I handled this week 100% awesome," Robinson said. "We had attack in practice all week and I was happy with how I skated tonight. I really pushed the speed (in the past she has been criticized for being too slow). Iím happy with the triple Salchow-triple loop (despite the under rotation of the second jump)."

She said at Nationals, where she lost the title she had won for the previous five times, "Nothing went well. To come from three poor performances to two strong ones is great. Iíll take this confidence to Worlds."

Yukino Nakano, who had been fifth in the short, was sixth in the long and took that place overall. Skating to Chopinís Etude in C Minor, she tried the triple Axel to double toe, and did not fall but the first jump was landed forward instead of backward. She put her hand down on the triple flip that was supposed to be combined with a double toe but immediately did a second triple flip that was successful and combined with the double toe.

There followed a triple loop and a layback with skate-to-head. Her triple Lutz was landed on two feet but she brought off a triple Salchow and later a triple toe loop sequenced into a double Axel.

Angela Nikodinov had even more problems than Corwin, hardly able to put a foot right interpreting music from the ballet Giselle. She doubled her first jump, the triple Lutz and did not combine it as planned with a double toe. She also doubled her second move, the triple flip and then singled her double Axel and did not attempt the second jump of this planned sequence.

The flying camel was nice as was the triple loop and the layback spin unmatched. She inserted a triple flip but then doubled her second attempt at the Lutz and two footed a triple toe. Her marks ranged from a 4.2 up to a 5.3 for the first set. For the second set they went from a 4.8 up to a 5.4. She was so upset, she had no comment for the assembled journalists.

Yoshie Onda was seventh in both sections but was unlucky in the up and down switcheroos and finished eighth overall. She began well with an extremely high triple Lutz to double toe loop, quickly followed by a soaring triple flip to double toe. However, on the triple loop she had to execute a double three turn to hold onto the landing. She repeated the triple flip and the triple Lutz but this last jump was done with a substantial lean. Later she did a triple Salchow but doubled the planned triple toe loop.

It was good from a jump point of view with the first set of marks ranging from one 5.0 up to one 5.7 but there was little artistry to her music, God Moving Over the Face of the Waters. That was reflected in the second set of marks which went from two 4.7s up to one 5.5.

Even her bulky blue skirt did little to add an appearance of elegance. She said, "I felt very good today. In my short program the Lutz and the Axel werenít so good. I was sick. I had caught a cold but now Iím feeling fine. Today I was strong. I was very happy at the end of my performance. This was the last competition for me this season and I wanted to finish on a high note. I donít have vacation now. I have to go back to school and prepare for exams. Iím a college student in Japan."

Jennifer Don skated first of the second of the four groups of six women and was pretty dismal. Her opening jump, a triple toe loop had a bad lean and she was forced to put both feet on the ice, so she did not try to combine it with the planned double toe. She fell on her second move, the triple Salchow. The spread eagle to double Axel was good as was the second triple toe but the planned triple loop was doubled.

Donís skate-to-head layback was super and she gets down beautifully, very low, in her sit positions in spins. At the end she did a double Lutz to double toe and a double Axel but, quite frankly, this was a showing which would not have done well in the past US Novice Championships. She was 13thin both sections and overall.

 

2004 Four Continents Ladies Medalists

 

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