2007 Four Continents Championships

Colorado Springs, CO


Ladies Report     Men's Report    Pairs Report    Dance Report

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Saturday, 10 February

Last day of competition.  Ladies final starts at 11:30 AM.  Exhibition takes place this evening.

Since we have a skater here from Brazil, shouldn't this now be the "FIVE Continents Championships?"  Or the "Not-The-European Championships?"  From the attendance maybe it should be the "Nobody-Cares-About-This Championships."

Kimmie Meissner skated well in the Ladies final, missing one jump combination by singling a flip in an intended triple flip - triple toe loop combination.  She trailed Joannie Rochette by 4.11 points -- the equivalent of one triple jump -- after the Short Program.  Rochette missed both her attempts at triple Lutz, and trailed Meissner in both Total Element Score and Program Components Score.  Either way alone Meissner made up the difference to win, so there is more to the victory than the number of errors on the jumps.  Emily Hughes finished second  in the Free Skate and second overall.  She missed two of her combinations, resulting in both triple flip and triple Lutz being repeated outside of combination, for a 20% penalty in base value in each case.

Meissner landed one of her two planned triple-triple combinations.  She landed a triple Axel in practice this morning, but did not attempt it in her program.  Also in the morning warm-up, Hughes flattened Rochette.  All week, we are told, Hughes has practiced like she is the only one on the ice, oblivious to the right of way and safety of anyone else on the ice.  I got to see it twice today.  Shades of Sasha Cohen?

About 800 were on hand for the final.  We estimate about double that were present for the exhibition in the evening.

Friday, 9 February

Dance Free Dance at 2 PM and Men's Free Skate this evening at 6:30 PM.

Fumie Suguri has withdrawn citing a neck injury (1:30 PM).

The see-saw battle between Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon and Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto in the Dance event ended with Dubreuil & Lauzon winning the Free Skate and the Gold medal.  The margin of victory over the Americans was only 1.62 points.  These two closely matched couples, who placed second and third at the 2006 World Championships, are now primed to continue their rivalry in Tokyo at the 2007 World Championships.  Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir placed third in the Free Skate, to finish third overall; besting their nearest rivals, Meryl Davis & Charlie White, by 5.2 points.  At the start of the event I counted 269 people in the seats.  Once late comers filed in, it is estimated 350-400 people were on hand to view the event (this number includes credential personnel).

In the Men's Short Program Evan Lysacek dug a substantial hole for himself.  In the Free Skate, Jeffery Buttle filled it in for him.  Lysacek won the Free Skate with a margin of 12.99 points over Buttle, with all but 0.5 points coming from the total element score.  Lysacek got the job done with a decent skate, landing nine triples and quads, including quad toe - triple toe.  Buttle missed a planned triple Axel - triple toe combination and a solo triple Axel, landing 7 triples.  The two errors cost him a huge 15.57 points in base value.  Christopher Mabee had a fine skate and placed third in the Free Skate but he was too far back in the Short Program to medal.

Jeremy Abbot had errors on two jump elements, and had to twist in the wind waiting for five more skaters to finish before finding out he had held on for the bronze medal.  He was fourth in the Free Skate.  Ryan Bradley also had errors on two jump elements, plus a deduction for a fall.  He dropped in the standings to fourth overall.  About 1000 people appeared to be on hand for the event (again including credentialed spectators.)

Thursday, 8 February

Today we have the Original Dance, Pairs Free Skating and the Ladies Short Program.  The festivities begin at 11:30 this morning and run through 10:30 PM.

In the Original Dance, the US/CAN event continued with Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto holding a slim lead (1.13 points) over Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon, heading into the free dance.  Fellow Canadians Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, the Canadian silver medalists, placed third opening up a lead over Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White, the U.S. bronze medalists.  Unlike yesterday for the Compulsory Dance, there was a substantial audience at hand to view the second segment of the competition.  Local schools brought in the equivalent of 12 or more school busses full of elementary school student to fill a large part of the upper bowl of the World Arena.  The appreciative students, from kindergarten through fourth grade, were enthusiastic and a breath of fresh air to what has been a relatively stagnant and empty arena.

Following the Original Dance, the Pairs final was held this afternoon.  The first team to take the ice, Jessica Dube & Bryce Davison started their free skate to "Blower's Daughter" by D. Rice landing all of their elements in the first half of the program.  At mid-program they entered their side-by-side flying combination spin.  On the initial flying camel, Davison's blade cut Dube's left cheek and nose.  She fell to the ice and was assisted by emergency personnel.  After she was taken from the ice on a gurney, there was an ice cut and the competition resumed about twenty minutes later.

Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao of China, won the event skating with great flow and musicality portraying their music to "Meditation" from "Thais:"  Qing Pang & Jian Tong, also of China, won the silver medal with their performance to "Phantom of the Opera".  The bronze medal went to Americans Rena Inoue & John Baldwin.  Other than a fall on the throw triple axel, their program was very strong.  Brooke Castile & Benjamin Okolski, reigning U.S. National Champions, finished in fifth place pulling up from seventh in the short to fourth in the Free Skate, and skated a clean and powerful program.  Naomi Nari Nam & Themistocles Leftheris finished sixth in the long and sixth overall.  

Jessica Dube being attended to by emergency personnel.  Her partner, Bryce Davison, is at right.  Jessica suffered a facial laceration across the left cheek and bridge of the nose in the Pairs Free Skating.

This evening a facial trauma surgeon operated on Dube to repair the facial laceration.  Dube received no other injuries in the accident other than the laceration.  Dube will remain at Memorial Hospital overnight.

Even though there was only one Short Program group, the new Byzantine method of seeding the Short Program was used.  This method is based on the current ISU point rankings for the skaters, and results in the highest ranked skaters competing the last two groups.  Group sizes varied from four to five in no particularly understandable way.

The Ladies Short Program this evening was one gigantic slop fest.  Joannie Rochette of Canada won the Short Program with an anemic score of 56.6 points.  Hardly the stuff to be competitive for a World's medal.  (At 2006 Worlds Rochette scored 56.38 points in the Short Program and placed seventh.)  Emily Hughes placed second, 1.16 points back.  Hughes fell on her opening triple flip, then wisely tacked a double toe loop on the subsequent (was to be a solo) triple Lutz.  She continued to attack the program, and with all the errors the other Ladies made it was good enough to end up in second.  Aki Sawada of Japan placed third 1.47 points behind the leader.  Alissa Czisny placed fourth, while the reigning World Champion, Kimmie Meissner currently sits in sixth, 4.11 points back.  Five of the last nine skaters fell at least once in their performances.  None of the Ladies could muster Program Component scores of even 7.0, well below the standard for a medal at Worlds.  Many of the top skaters here performed 10-20 points below their personal best.  Oh well.  Saturday is another day.

And finally, we learn today that Johnny Weir is not here because he is appearing in a fashion show instead.  Now there is a dedicated athlete for you.  Maybe Jeremy Abbott should go to Worlds.

Today's Dance and Pairs overview were written by Alex Shibutani.  Alex and his sister Maia are the 2007 U.S. Novice Dance Champions.  Alex will be writing the Free Dance report on Friday.

Wednesday, 7 February

Here we are back at the World Arena in Colorado Springs.  It is like revisiting an old friend.  The facility remains in good shape and is still a great site for events, but it would be nice if the old friend stepped into the present when it comes to concessions, and offered more than the dreadful arena fare that was so common 5-10 years ago in all arenas, but has been improved in more modern facilities to enhance the ticket holder's experience.

Not that there have been many ticket holders so far.  In the Compulsory Dance, which began at 11:30 AM,  I counted 177 people in the seats during the first group of skaters, and many of those where wearing credentials.  The CD was a US/CAN event, with the six teams from the U.S. and Canada occupying the top six places.  Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon hold first by 0.82 points.  Melissa Gregory & Denis Petuhkov did not compete.  An injury since Nationals is alleged.

In the afternoon, the Pairs Short Program drew an audience of about 300.  Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao had a nice skate, but they are not at the level they were at the peak of their powers several years ago.  Their triple twist was a bit dicey, with a poor catch and a chest bump on the way down.  Rena Inoue & John Baldwin sit in third behind Qing Pang & Jian Tong.  They landed their throw triple Axel, but 9 of 12 judges gave it a Goe of -1 for a landing on the toe.  The Pairs event consists of just 9 teams, with 6 coming from the U.S. and Canada.

Twenty one men competed in the Men's Short Program in the evening.  Johnny Weir did not compete.  No explanation for his absence is known at this time, but it better be a good one.  If anyone needed another tune up before Worlds it is Weir after what we saw at U.S. Nationals.  Jeffrey Buttle leads after the short, with Jeremy Abbot 3.38 points back.  Ryan Bradley placed third.  Currently buried in fourth place is Evan Lysacek.  He is 10.8 points back.  A rather substantial deficit to try to overcome in the Free Skating.  About 400 people were on hand for the event (including those with credentials).

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