2009 Four Continents

Ladies Event

by Alexandra Stevenson

Photos Copyright 2009 by George S. Rossano


Place Skater Country SP FS
1 Yu-Na Kim KOR 1 3
2 Joannie Rochette CAN 2 2
3 Mao Asada JPN 6 1
4 Caroline Zhang USA 5 4
5 Cynthia Phaneuf CAN 3 5
6 Fumie Suguri JPN 4 6
7 Rachael Flatt USA 8 7
8 Akiko Suzuki JPN 9 8
9 Alissa Czisny USA 7 9
10 Amelie Lacoste CAN 10 10
11 Yan Liu CHN 12 11
12 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB 13 14
13 Cheltzie Lee AUS 15 13
14 Hyeon-Jung Kim KOR 17 12
15 Binshu Xu CHN 11 16

Na-Young Kim

KOR 16 15
17 Ana Cecilia Cantu MEX 14 18
18 Tina Wang AUS 18 17
19 Chaochin Liu TPE 19 19
20 Tamani Ono HKG 24 20
21 Michele Cantu MEX 20 22
22 Loretta Hamui MEX 23 21
23 Yueren Wang CHN 21 23
24 Gracielle Jeanne Tan PHI 22 24
25 Crystal Kiang TPE 25 -
26 Melinda Wang TPE 26 -
27 Charissa Tansomboon THA 27 -
28 JORLejeanne Marais RSA 28 -
29 Mary Grace Baldo PHI 29 -
30 Jessica Kurzawski AUS 30 -
31 Elizabeth Stern PHI 31 -
32 Abigail Pietersen RSA 32 -
33 Alessia Baldo BRA 33 -
34 Stacy Perfetti BRA 34 -
35 Kristine Y Lee HKG 35 -


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Kristine Y Lee

  2. Amelie Lacoste

  3. Mary Grace Baldo

  4. Elizabeth Stern

  5. Stacy Perfetti

  6. Chaochin Liu

  7. Megan Allely

  8. Alessia Baldo

  9. Crystal Kiang

  10. Jessica Kurzawski

  11. Melinda Wang

  12. Tamani Ono

  13. Tina Wang

  14. Abigail Pietersen

  15. Cheltzie Lee

  16. Lejeanne Marais

  17. Gracielle Jeanne Tan

  18. Charissa Tansomboon

  19. Yueren Wang

  20. Hyeon-Jung Kim

  21. Yan Liu

  22. Ana Cecilia Cantu

  23. Michele Cantu

  24. Loretta Hamui

  25. Caroline Zhang

  26. Rachael Flatt

  27. Binshu Xu

  28. Alissa Czisny

  29. Cynthia Phaneuf

  30. Akiko Suzuki

  31. Fumie Suguri

  32. Anastasia Gimazetdinova

  33. Mao Asada

  34. Yu-Na Kim

  35. Na-Young Kim

  36. Joannie Rochette


Short Program Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Yu-Na Kim KOR
2 Joannie Rochette CAN
3 Cynthia Phaneuf CAN
4 Fumie Suguri JPN
5 Caroline Zhang USA
6 Mao Asada JPN
7 Alissa Czisny USA
8 Rachael Flatt USA
9 Akiko Suzuki JPN
10 Amelie Lacoste CAN
11 Binshu Xu CHN
12 Yan Liu CHN
13 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB
14 Ana Cecilia Cantu MEX
15 Cheltzie Lee AUS

Na-Young Kim

17 Hyeon-Jung Kim KOR
18 Tina Wang AUS
19 Chaochin Liu TPE
20 Michele Cantu MEX
21 Yueren Wang CHN
22 Gracielle Jeanne Tan PHI
23 Loretta Hamui MEX
24 Tamani Ono HKG
25 Crystal Kiang TPE
26 Melinda Wang TPE
27 Charissa Tansomboon THA
28 JORLejeanne Marais RSA
29 Mary Grace Baldo PHI
30 Jessica Kurzawski AUS
31 Elizabeth Stern PHI
32 Abigail Pietersen RSA
33 Alessia Baldo BRA
34 Stacy Perfetti BRA
35 Kristine Y Lee HKG
w Megan Allely RSA


Yu-Na Kim

Joannie Rochette

Cynthia Phaneuf

72.24 (TES 42.20 + PCS 30.04) Skating 34th of 35 women from 14 countries, Yu-na Kim gave a stunning, brilliant showing easing through her David Wilson-created routine, set to Camille Saint-Saens Dance Macabre, with confidence, grace and superb technique to earn the highest score ever given to a female for the Short Program. She beat her own best score of 71.95 set at Worlds in 2007. That number would place amongst the worldís top ten men, even without a triple Axel!

The twice world bronze medalist and 4-time Korean champion withdrew from last seasonís Four Continents championships which were in her home country because of a back and hip problem. She explained, "For the last two seasons I was injured. I didnít do well in the end, but my condition is a lot better this time. I am glad to be here, where the Olympics will be and very glad I got my best score." She beat Asada in the Short Program at the recent Grand Prix Final, also in her home country, but then slipped to second overall. She is 20 days older than Asada, having been born on September 5, 1990, and both were just two months and some days too young to gain Olympic experience in Turin in 2006. Even before then they were rivals. Asada won the 2005 world junior title but Kim dethroned her in that event in 2006. "I always seem to get compared with Mao," said Kim. "But it is not just Mao I am competing against. I donít want to pick one competitor and compete against her."

Kim is so much of a celebrity in her own country that her Federation chose to have her trained in Canada where she could practice in some degree of privacy at the Toronto Cricket and Curling Club in Toronto with Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser. Orser certainly knows about the strain of being a public figure and of having a well-known prime rival. (It was Orserís defeat of Brian Boitano in Cincinnati in 1987 for the world title, which led the American to seek a new image with choreography from Canadian Sandra Bezic. That produced a huge breakthrough in the Californianís audience projection and helped make the difference between gold and silver, with Orser defeated for the Olympic gold in his own country in Calgary in 1988 in the famed Battle of the Brians.)

As beautifully as the routine went, Kim was not completely satisfied. "I can still improve my steps and spins. It took me a long time to clean up this program. Iím so happy that I did that today. One of my main goals is to stay healthy. Last season I had injuries and couldnít prepare well. Now I have special exercises to do and advice on how to keep my body in good shape." Watching Orser on the other side of the barrier as his protťgť skated was a show in itself. He appeared to be skating along with her, tensing through the same steps, pulling in his arms and generally telepathically willing her to succeed in moves his own muscles know so well.

Most judges appeared carried along by her performance but while two gave +2 for her first move, the triple flip to triple toe combination, one gave +1, five punched in 0, and one harsh judge thought it was flawed. Overall, this move received +0.40 which was Kimís lowest GoE. Maybe the harsh judge noticed that the technical specialist, Ravi Walia, and his assistant, Vladimir Petrenko (younger brother of Victor, the Olympic gold medalist) had given an exclamation mark, which is a warning of a brief wrong edge take-off. There was no question of wrong edge on the following triple Lutz. It earned +1.40 with the judges firmly agreed that the soaring feat of technical prowess deserved at least +1. Two were impressed enough to punch in +2 and one was so carried along with the moment, he/she gave the maximum, +3. All but the straight line steps, which were done with great expression and received Level 3 with +0.90, were deemed Level 4.

2. 66.90 (37.90+29.00) Joannie Rochette, the 5-time Canadian champion, had a great confidence booster when she won the French Grand Prix defeating a sub-par Asada in October but, in the Grand Prix Final, in December Rochette had a bad Short Program performance and finished fourth. Since then, she has changed things around in that routine, which she performs to Summertime from George Gershwinís Opera Porgy and Bess.

"I switched the Lutz to the combo rather than the flip," Rochette explained. The triple Lutz is not very comfortable. Itís not a natural rhythm for me but Iím consistently landing triple-triple jumps and Iím proud of that. I keep improving. I had a personal best in the Canadian championships. I feel, at 23, I have a second chance with my career.

"The biggest challenge for me is to relax. Of course, itís a competition, but now Iím taking my time. This city feels comfortable for me. Iíve competed here before and every September for the past five years Iíve come for a training camp here so it feels like home. Of course, thatís not to say there wonít be a huge amount of pressure at the Olympics but I wonít feel so overwhelmed. Thereíll be a certain comfort level with surrounding things.

"Iím really inspired by the fact that the last Canadian woman to win an Olympic figure skating medal was Liz Manley and she did it in Calgary (taking silver behind two-time Olympic winner Katarina Witt with US champion, Debi Thomas, third.) I only just met her this past summer."

Skating last, Rochette began with a +1.80 double Axel. Her triple Lutz to double toe was rewarded with +0.80. Her flying sit spin was Level 4 and +0.50 and her triple flip +0.60. The Level 4 change foot combination spin received her lowest GoE, +0.30. The Level 3 steps were awarded +0.60. Her spirals were Level 4 and +1.0. She finished with her Level 3 layback which earned +0.40.

Rochette explained about doing a double as the second jump in her combo instead of a triple, "I wanted to do it but the Lutz was a bit high and when I landed it, I thought it better to do a clean triple-double than a cheated triple-triple. For me, it was important to do a perfect performance tonight. I felt good on the ice but just a little tense. I felt I was lacking speed a little bit. Itís my goal this season to skate more loosely and be more open to the crowd. Achieving a career best without a triple-triple is good for me, but I still want to land it before I finish my career, for sure!!"

3. 60.98 (34.70+26.28) Cynthia Phaneuf was not amongst those predicted to be in the top three at this stage. She first competed in the Four Continents championship in 2004 when she won the silver after her surprise victory in the Canadian championship just a few days after her 16th birthday. "A lot has changed since 2004," Phaneuf said. "I am not the same skater because Iím not the same person. I think my skating is better than it was and more mature. Itís even better now because Iím enjoying stuff. Iím happy about what I have been through and my results today. This was my first clean program since 2005. Iím very excited to be here. My goal is to be here for the Olympics. Itís my lifeís goal. I think my confidence is higher now than it was at Canadians."

Skating 29th to A. Rosandís Nocture, Phaneuf, dressed in purple, began with an athletic +1.20 double Axel but the following triple Lutz to double toe was awarded only +0.20. Her triple toe soared and gained +1.0. She earned two Level 4s, for her spirals which gained +1.20 and the +0.30 change foot combination spin. Her other two spins (base value flying sit and +0.30 layback) and her +0.50 straight line steps were Level 3. She had won this section in the Canadian champions, despite a fall, although Rochette had overtaken her after the FS.

4. 60.18 (33.70 +26.48) Fumie Suguri, who won bronze medals for Japan in the 2002 and 2003 worlds and then gained silver in 2006. That worlds were shortly after the Olympics where Suguri had been only a sliver away from bronze. In this era, she gets diss-ed as "past it". Critics have told her to hang up her skates, but she keeps smiling. This season, she gained silver in her national championships. She currently lies only 0.80 points behind Phaneuf.

"In the six-minute warm-up, they announced that I was 28. I thought, ĎOh no! Donít say that.í I didnít see myself continuing at this age, but I can go more, and I am! After Torino, I had a hard time fixing my technique but Iím past that point now." Skating 31st, to Fanfan by N. Jorelle, dressed in pink, she began with what looked like a good, solid triple Lutz to double toe but was given an "e" for wrong edge take-off. That meant her maximum GoE was -1 and she was given an aggregate of -1.20. But the rest of her routine was lovely. The triple flip earned +0.40 but her double Axel earned +1.0. Her layback spin, which she did on a back outside edge, earned the base value for Level 2. She earned Level 4 for her other two spins (plus +0.30 for the flying sit and +0.20 for the change foot combo) and the spirals (+1.0). Her Level 3 steps got +0.60.

5. 58.16 (32.40+25.76) Caroline Zhang, the 2007 World Junior champion, who will be 16 on May 20, was not satisfied with fifth place. "Well, Iím really disappointed in my levels," said the youngster, who won bronze in the recent US championship. "I really thought I could have done better. But Iíll work harder for my free skate. Itís pretty exciting skating at the Olympic venue. I think that itís great that we get to skate here before the Olympics. Itís the only bad triple toe Iíve done all week and it had to be in the competition. It distracted me. It was really shaky. It wasnít my best performance. I didnít really have much expression."

Skating 25th in blue with a white trim to Minkusí immortal music for the ballet La Bayadere which her teammate, Alissa Czisny, had previously used to great effect, she rushed into her opening jump with the tapping foot going so high her leg was almost in a split. She got the rotation but the second jump in the combo, a triple toe was downgraded. On her next move, the triple loop, she received -0.40. However, her double Axel gained +0.20. The change foot combination spin (+0.70), the flying sit spin (+0.10) and her super-stretched spirals (+1.60) were Level 4. Her straight line steps were +0.30 Level 2. She concluded with her wonderful "oyster" spin (in which her head becomes the pearl). The audience loved the move and five of the judges punched in the maximum +3 while the other four merely gave +2. (That resulted in +1.20 being added to the base value for her Level 3 layback of 2.40.)

6. 57.86 (29.10+28.76) What a shock to discover that Ms. Triple Axel, the Japanese jumping phenom and current world and defending Four Champion Mao Asada was not in the top three! She lies 14.38 marks out of first place. She did receive the third highest component score, only 1.28 marks behind Kim. But, technically, she conceded 13.10 marks to her South Korean rival. Skating 33rd to Debussyís soothingly beautiful Clair de Lune, the 18 year old Asada took the ice in royal blue and silver with one sleeve, and a matching hair adornment. Whether the fact that her coach, the Russian Tatiana Tarasova with whom she has become very close, was not at the boards with her was a factor in her meltdown is unknown. She was being looked after by Tarasovaís assistant, Shanetta Folle.

Asada began with triple flip to triple loop. The second jump was definitely strained and it was downgraded. She earned 5.40 for this element. Her next move, meant as a triple Lutz, was a bad double which meant she banked only a total of 0.90 instead of the base value for the triple of 6.0. She relaxed a little in her Level 4 spirals which earned 1.40 over the base value of 3.40. Her only other Level 4 was her change foot combination spin, which earned +0.50. Her flying sit spin was only Level 2 and +0.10. The double Axel was very good, and was rewarded with +1.40 over the base value of 3.50. Her circular steps were Level 3 and +0.60. She brought the proceedings to a halt with her Level 2 layback which was given +0.90.

"I was having problems with my jumps since this morning," Asada confessed. "Iím not satisfied with this bad performance and I want to forget it. I want to set my mind positively for the free skating." She was asked if having a main rival in Kim helps her. She answered, "It give me a lot of motivation and helps me to go to the next step. By skating with her, it helps me continue to the next opportunity to compete with her."

7. 55.62 (30.10+26.52-1.0) Alyssa Czisny, the superbly graceful new 21 year old US champion, did not have a good day. She was the only skater in the top nine to fall. Skating 28th to Saint Saensí The Swan, in a white outfit with blue trimmings, she began with a triple Lutz but she two-footed the landing of the double toe loop with which it was combined. That meant she banked only 5.30 instead of the base value of 7.30. Then she fell on her second element the triple flip after under-rotating it. She salvaged only 0.70 marks for that debaucle. Adding insult to injury, the jump was given an exclamation mark, which is a warning for wrong edge. The rest of the program went well. Her Level 3 straight line steps earned +0.60. Her double Axel earned its base value. Two of her three spins earned Level 4.The flying camel gained +0.60 and the change foot combination earned +1.0. Her spirals were Level 4 and were given a deserved enormous +1.80 GoE. She concluded with a Level 3 layback spin that was rewarded with +0.80.

Czisny admitted, "It wasnít very good today. It was good except for the jumps. Iím not happy with the way I skated, but Iím certainly still learning, and I hope to skate better in the free skate. I really try to tell a story in my long program and I hope the audience will see that. I think that itís nice to be in the venue for next year just to get an idea of what the surroundings will be like." Asked what caused the fall, she said, "I think I just tried too hard. I didnít let it go all the way up. I just let it get too high, too soon. The problem was mental not technical. I was good in the warm-up but too fast in the program. There are probably more expectations on me (because of winning the title). I try not to focus on others. I need to focus on doing my job. Itís good."

8. 55.44 (30.00+25.44) Rachael Flatt, the 16 year old who dethroned Zhang to become the current world junior champion and has been the number 2 ranked US skater for the last two years, also had problems with her first two moves. She said, "Iím a little disappointed, especially with the triple-triple and the Lutz, but overall I think I tried to express my program a little bit better, so Iím happy with that. I really have been working on the components so I really want the audience and the judges to be able to see my improvement in the free skate. This is just another chance to get my programs out and try to improve them which is definitely advantageous at this point. Itís very exciting to have a chance to skate in the Olympic venue prior to the Olympics. Iím very excited to be here and itís definitely a wonderful opportunity. Iím very happy to be here. I think it will definitely to be to my advantage to have skated here once before if I get selected for the Olympic team."

Skating 26th, presenting a lovely routine set to music from the classic movie Breakfast at Tiffanyís which starred Audrey Hepburn, in a white outfit with black trimmings, she opened with a combination of triple flip to triple toe but the second jump was under-rotated and she received only 5.0 points instead of at least the base value of 6.80. Then her triple Lutz was given an "e" for wrong edge take-off which meant the judges were limited to not more than -1 GoE. That meant she earned only 4.40 instead of the hoped for 6.0 or better. Her double Axel gained +0.40. She earned Level 4 for her two final moves, her +1.0 spirals and +0.40 flying camel. Her layback was base value Level 2. She received Level 3 for her straight line steps and (+0.50) and her first spin, the base value change foot combination.


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Michele Cantu

  2. Yueren Wang

  3. Loretta Hamui

  4. Tamani Ono

  5. Gracielle Jeanne Tan

  6. Chaochin Liu

  7. Tina Wang

  8. Ana Cecilia Cantu

  9. Anastasia Gimazetdinova

  10. Na-Young Kim

  11. Hyeon-Jung Kim

  12. Cheltzie Lee

  13. Yan Liu

  14. Akiko Suzuki

  15. Alissa Czisny

  16. Binshu Xu

  17. Rachael Flatt

  18. Amelie Lacoste

  19. Mao Asada

  20. Joannie Rochette

  21. Fumie Suguri

  22. Cynthia Phaneuf

  23. Caroline Zhang

  24. Yu-Na Kim


Free Skating Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Mao Asada JPN
2 Joannie Rochette CAN
3 Yu-Na Kim KOR
4 Caroline Zhang USA
5 Cynthia Phaneuf CAN
6 Fumie Suguri JPN
7 Rachael Flatt USA
8 Akiko Suzuki JPN
9 Alissa Czisny USA
10 Amelie Lacoste CAN
11 Yan Liu CHN
12 Hyeon-Jung Kim KOR
13 Cheltzie Lee AUS
14 Anastasia Gimazetdinova UZB

Na-Young Kim

16 Binshu Xu CHN
17 Tina Wang AUS
18 Ana Cecilia Cantu MEX
19 Chaochin Liu TPE
20 Tamani Ono HKG
21 Loretta Hamui MEX
22 Michele Cantu MEX
23 Yueren Wang CHN
24 Gracielle Jeanne Tan PHI

Yu-na Kim won the title by over five points but she finished only third in the Free Skate. Should Mao Asada have won the Free Skate? Was she held up? Certainly this was the subject of many arguments. Joannie Rochette was a delighted second throughout. Asada, the Japanese pre-event favorite, partially redeemed herself after a disastrous short, to earn the bronze.

1. Overall 189.07; 3. FS 116.83 (56.95+60.88-1.0) Yu-na Kim was not only aware that Michelle Kwan had previously skated to Rimsky Korsakovís Sheherazade, Kim said that performance had been an inspiration to her and she had always wanted to skate to this music, too. The routine earned the top component score, but received only the fourth highest technical marks (behind Caroline Zhang, who was deemed the top technician, Asada and Rochette). It was choreographed by David Wilson. Kim performed in red and gold, with a red ribbon attached to her bun. She drew to skate last of the 24 qualifiers, and opened with what looked like a perfect triple flip to triple toe loop but though it earned +0.60 Grade of Execution, which gave her a total of 10.10 points, the technical specialist deemed it should be scarred with a warning exclamation mark for a short wrong edge take-off. Then she fell on a triple loop which was downgraded and for which she earned only 0.50. Because of the mandatory -1 for the fall, this actually saddled her with half a point deficit. Her next element, the triple Lutz to double toe to double loop, had both the first and final jumps downgraded which mean she banked only 3.22 marks.

But, after that unimpressive start, she got back on track. Her flying sit spin was Level 4 with +0.04 GoE. Her double Axel to triple toe loop and the following triple Lutz soared and both elements earned +0.80 over the base value. Her spirals received her usual Level 4 and a very high +1.20 GoE. However, her triple Salchow was given only the base value and her flying camel combination spin was only a Level 2 and +0.14. Her straight line steps earned a higher level (3) and both it and her final two moves, a double Axel and a Level 3 change foot combination spin received +0.60.

Kim said, "I tried not to think about the (record Short Program score). It really doesnít matter that I got the best score because I try my best all the time, every second of the competition. I havenít thought about the Olympics yet because I want to concentrate on this season. I knew there were a lot of Koreans in Vancouver and there were a lot of Koreans who came from Korea to see my competition. I am really happy about that. At the Olympics, I hope there will be a lot of Koreans there who will cheer for me and help me."

2. 183.91; 2. FS 117.01 (58.45+58.56) Joannie Rochette admitted, "I was nervous and a little bit tired but I was happy that when the music started, I got into it, and my training showed that was in good condition and well trained for coming here. Of course, there were some mistakes but Iím happy. I can build on this before the world championships. It was a very international audience tonight. It had an Olympic feel." Rochette knows what that is like. She placed fifth in the 2006 Olympics in Torino, where she met her boyfriend, who won medals in short track speed skating there. This was her second silver in a row in the Four Continents championships. The five-time Canadian champion, who turned 23 on January 13, also won the bronze in 2007.

Skating 20th, immediately after Asada, to J. Rodrigoís Concierto de Aranjuez, in a flattering shade of green, she opened with a +0.60 triple Lutz to double toe to double loop which scored a total of 9.40 points. That led into a triple flip which earned +0.80 for a total of 6.30, and a +0.60 triple loop which banked 5.60. That was followed by two Level 4 (the maximum) spins, a flying sit which gained +0.30 over the base value, and a combination upright which was awarded +0.10. As the 10% bonus marks clicked in, Rochette performed a +0.20 triple Lutz. Then came the planned triple toe to triple Salchow. But she executed too many steps between the two jumps so the second one didnít count. "When the triple toe was not landed good enough to do the Sal, I wasnít sure about the rules and if I was allowed to do one anywhere else so I just went ahead and did it. That turned out to be wasted effort. But, Iím happy I went for it and I learned from it." The straight line steps which followed were Level 3 and +0.50. Her Level 4 spirals earned a full point over their base value of 3.40. Then came a planned sequence of two double Axels but she singled the first one. The following triple Salchow earned its base value and her final move, a Level 4 change foot combination spin got a little extra +0.10. "Even though I didnít do my best," Rochette said, "I was able to fight to the end. I was a little tired from nationals. I didnít feel in my best shape but Iím happy with my overall performance. My goal is to be perfect for Worlds."

Rochette, actually, has easy access to an Olympic gold medal and two silvers. Her boyfriend is Canadian speedskater Francois-Louis Tremblay who won them in the last Olympics. "Seeing them makes me want one, but I prefer not to have them out. You canít spend too much time dreaming about the future. Itís better to get on the ice and work towards making it happen."

3. 176.52; 1. FS 118.66 (58.58+60.08) Mao Asada, skating first of the top six, dressed in a black sleeveless outfit with wrist bands, performed to Khatchaturianís dramatic Masquerade Waltz. But she began with a fizzle, popping her Axel, planned as a triple. She refused to make excuses. When asked was this because of the enormous expectations placed on her as world champion, she said, "There was no pressure. I had problems to conquer in this competition and I will try harder for the next one."

And she did bring off the 3Ĺ turn jump at the second attempt, earning 0.60 above the base value and banking 8.80 points. Two judges thought this effort was worth +2, three +1 and four deemed it merely satisfactory. (Had Kim landed the first one, she would have earned enough points to pip Rochette for the silver but would still have been a long way behind Kim.) The following triple flip to double loop to double loop had an extra feature of her right arm raised above her head on the third jump "Boitano-fashion". It earned +0.80 over base value for a total of 9.30. Then came two Level 4 moves, a +0.40 flying sit spin and +1.20 Spirals. As the bonus marks clicked in, she executed a +1.0 triple loop and then a +0.40 triple flip to double loop.

But then she doubled what is normally considered the easiest of the triple jumps, a toe loop. After a +0.60 double Axel, she executed a Level 3 +0.40 flying combination spin, great +1.0 straight line steps and a +0.50 Level 4 change foot combination spin. She looked happy to get through the routine and the crowd, which contained many Japanese fans, went wild. Although she did not try the triple Axel in Sundayís exhibition program, she gave a flawless showing to a Tango routine looking far more relaxed. This summer, because she had been penalized for wrong edge take-off, she spent a lot of time re-doing her technique on the triple Lutz. Wrong technique is extremely difficult to get rid of. Asada agrees she has been through a trying time in her career. "I have to work still harder," she admits, smiling and nodding her head vigorously.

4. 171.22; 4. FS 113.06 (60.02+53.04) Caroline Zhang skated 23rd to Ave Maria shades of light pink and lavender, advancing a place by scoring the highest technical marks of the competition. "I think it was a pretty good performance overall. I was watching the whole thing backstage and really didnít expect to finish any higher than sixth. So, Iím totally thrilled. Thereís a lot of pressure, so Iím really excited that I didnít get nervous."

The 15 year old from Brea, CA, did not get off to a great start. The second jump in her triple flip to triple toe was downgraded, and the following triple Lutz to double toe was given a warning exclamation mark for a short wrong edge take off. The double Axel which came next had a small -0.16. But the rest of the routine went splendidly. All three spins and the Spirals earned Level 4. The flying sit gained only the base value, but the change foot combination got +0.60, and her magnificent layback, with its ĎPearl in the Oyster portioní was rewarded with +1.30. Her circular steps were Level 3 with +0.50. Zhangsí second triple flip, the triple loop, triple Salchow and her final jump pass, a triple loop to double toe to double loop, all earned their base values. "The nationals were my best (previous) performance," Zhang said, "but, I think I did a little better here. I am really happy with my score."

5. 169.41; 5. FS 108.43 (54.51+53.92) Past Canadian champion Cynthia Phaneuf was upset at dropping two places. She said, "I am disappointed about missing a medal, but I am very happy about my skate." Skating 22nd and performing an Egyptian-themed routine set to Mission Cleopatra (Asterix and Obelix), she began with a triple toe to double Axel sequence which earned +0.80 over base. She omitted the second jump planned after the triple Lutz which came next and earned +0.60 over its base. Her triple loop got +0.20. But her Level 4 flying sit spin had a small negative (-0.18). She then doubled her flip which was saddled with an "eí for wrong edge take-off. Then came a nice +0.60 triple Salchow. Her Spirals earned +0.60 but she nearly sat down on her -1.60 triple Lutz. Her Level 3 straight line steps were +0.30. She received +0.40 over the base value for her triple toe to double toe to double loop. Her final two moves were Level 4 spins which earned +0.20 for the change foot sit and +0.40 for the change foot combination.

Great things were expected from Phaneuf after she unexpectedly won the Canadian title in 2004. But she lost the title the following year and grew. Then she suffered a knee injury which took her out of competition for 18 months. "It was a long and difficult journey back. But I finally found myself able to skate again. I didnít have my jumps at first. Now Iím doing as well as before."

6. 167.74; 6. FS 107.56 (52.92+54.64) Fumie Suguri from Japan, dressed in pink, skated 21st to the dulcet tones of Raoul di Blasioís Otonol which was the signature piece of Maria Butyrskaya, the Russian who dethroned Michelle Kwan for the world title in 1999. She was upset at dropping two places. "I just need to practice more," she explained. "Itís up to my coach (Nikolai Morosov). He knows how to get good results." She received exclamation points on both triple Lutzes. The first was combined with a double toe and got -0.20 and she stepped out of the second, saddling herself with -2. Although her first triple flip received +0.80 but she stepped out and nearly fell on the second one which was meant to be combined with two doubles. Her spins were all Level 4 as were her Spirals. The straight line steps were Level 3 with +0.50.

7. 162.83; 7. FS 107.39 (56.35+51.04) Rachael Flatt, skating 17th in royal blue to Debussyís La Mer (The Sea), advanced a place. She began with base value double Axel and triple flip to double toe jumps. "I was disappointed that wasnít a triple-triple," the 16 year old Flatt confessed. Then came an exclamation mark triple Lutz. Her flying camel was Level 4 (+0.20) as were her spirals (+0.60). Her triple flip to double loop gained the base value but her change foot camel spin got a slight negative (-0.06). Then she doubled her Salchow. Her triple loop earned the base value but the triple Lutz to double toe to double loop got an exclamation mark and was saddled with -0.80. Her Level 3 straight line steps earned +0.30 but the final spin was penalized with -0.30.

Flatt said, "I definitely could have done better but I am happy with the experience that I gained from this. I love the rink. Itís amazing. It is a wonderful opportunity to have the chance to skate in the Olympic venue. Itís a great advantage at this time. I definitely learned a lot. Itís been great to be able to put my programs out there one more time, especially prior to an Olympic year. Iím a little disappointed on how the programs went, but I think, in general, it was a really good learning experience. Iím disappointed I didnít do my triple-triple, the landing on my flip wasnít right, so I just did a double instead. I just got really tired, and allowed myself to think I was really tired, which, obviously, wasnít a good thing. I think I gave a lot more than I did at U.S. Championships, so Iím really happy about that. It was really fun to perform in front of such a large crowd. The fans are wonderful. The Canadians really love skating. Thatís a good thing! I know Iíve got a lot of hard work in front of me. I think Iíve improved some things this year, but I still have a lot to work on."

8. 160.36; 8. FS 104.96 (53.76+51.20) Akiko Suzuki, a 23 year old who was fourth in the Japanese championships, skated 14th to the Russian Gypsy music, Dark Eyes, said, "I couldnít do my jumps very well I regret that. This is my first big stage in a long time." (She was also fourth nationally as a 16-year-old but, prior to this season, had not been able to match that position.) Apart from exclamation warning marks on both triple Lutzes, Suzuki received base value or better for all her elements. The first triple Lutz was combined with a double toe to double loop and had -0.60 taken off the 8.80 base value. The second Lutz, executed after the 10% bonus marks click in, had a -0.80 GoE. Her only other fault was singling her second triple loop, although her final spin, a flying combination, was "only" Level 2.

9. 159.81; 9. FS 104.19 (50.11+54.08) Alyssa CZISNY gained the fifth highest component marks for her graceful Dr. Zhivago routine but her technical score was only ninth best and she dropped two places finishing behind both teammates. Nevertheless, as ever, she put a positive spin on her performance. "It was a good experience to get out again in front of the judges internationally. Itís a little close after the US Championships (which she won, unexpectedly, in Cleveland), but, for Worlds, Iíll have much more time to prepare. It wasnít the best. It started out a little shaky, but I just tried to stay focused and get through it strong. Iím going to go back home, focus on training smart, and preparing for Worlds. Iím going to work on the jumps, spins, footwork, choreography, pretty much everything. Iím just going to work on making everything better.  I spent a good amount of my time working on my jumps, and I think I just need to work on improving them in competition. I just want to go out there and skate my best and I think the results will take care of themselves. I think that the way Iíve approached this season is the exact same way Iím going to approach my training for next year."

Skating 15th in a muted purple and green sleeveless creation, Czisny stepped out of her first jump, a triple Lutz and was unable to present the second jump, a double toe, in the planned combination. Her triple flip received a warning exclamation mark for wrong edge take-off and the rotation was down graded. However, her third element, the triple loop was rewarded with +0.40 over the base value. Her first spin, a flying sit, gained Level 3 and +0.60 but the double Axel which followed was not great and was saddled with -0.32 GoE. Her triple Lutz to double toe was deemed competent and it received the base value. But the triple toe to double toe had -0.20 removed from its base value. Her Spirals were as gorgeous as ever and got the maximum Level 4 with 1.40 added to the base value. Her second double Axel gained the base value which should be given only if all aspects of the move are satisfactory. Her circular steps were Level 4 and +0.60. She finished with two marvelous Level 4 spins which earned +1.10 for the change foot combination and +1.0 for the layback.

10. 146.18; 10. FS 96.40 (49.92+46.48) Amelie Lacoste, a 20 year old from Montreal who finished third in Canadians this year, was delighted to be 10th throughout the competition. "Iím very happy. Itís a very good performance for me. Itís my best performance of the year. The crowd was unbelievable. After my first jump, I couldnít even hear the music any more. Itís great to skate in our country. My goal was to land five triples and I did it. I have Olympic rings on my ceiling in my room. Every night I see them when I go to sleep. Itís my goal to make the Olympic team. I need to work more on the choreography and my presentation and performance. I need my (triple) flip and (triple) Lutz to be more consistent and I want a triple-triple in my long program." Skating 18th to a Flamenco Medley, in black and gold, she began with a triple loop to double loop to double loop which earned +0.60 over the base value. That was followed by a +0.20 triple flip and a base value triple Salchow to double toe. All three spins were Level 4 and earned at least the base value. Her Spirals were Level 4 and +0.80. However, she had problems with her other jumps. The second triple loop to double toe got a -0.20, she singled her triple Lutz attempt, the second triple Salchow had a wobbly landing (-1.20 GoE) and she stepped out of her double Axel (-1.60). But it was a very promising debut for senior international.


2009 Four Continents Ladies Medalists


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