Tara Lipinski took the long program in a 4-3 split to win the ladies event, setting herself up as a medal contender for Worlds. She popped her opening double Axel but then went on to skate the rest of the program cleanly. She skated with good style and speed, nearly as well as in her recent victory at US Nationals. In landing her triple loop - triple loop, she is the first lady to land that jump in international competition.
Michelle Kwan gave it a good shot and made progress in overcoming her setback at US Nationals, but a timid mid-section to her program worked against her. She started off strong landing her triple Lutz - double toe and a later triple toe - triple toe. In the middle, however, she got cautious and it cost her, falling on triple loop and putting a hand down on triple flip. Towards the end she recovered, landing triple Salchow and double Axel in the closing section of the program.
Pulling up to third was Irina Slutskaya who is skating a more serious program than in previous years, in a costume of semi-nude black fabric and lace. While presented tolerably well, she does not seem totally comfortable with the style which does really not match her personality. Her program was not as difficult as Lipinski's or Kwan's and included two errors, turning out of a double loop in combination, and a triple Lutz. In placing third she bypassed Maria Butyrskaya who had beaten her at Russian Nationals.
Butyrskaya again skated a stern looking program that was all to mechanical in presentation until the last third of the program when she finally began to relax. She landed most of her tricks, although some were a bit shakey and she put a hand down and two footed triple Lutz. At the end she looked dissappointed in her performance and her fears were confirmed when she ended up dropping one place, to fourth.
Bringing up the rear were Olga Markova who skated another program of bizare positions, which this time didn't even suite the music. Thanks to adequate technical ability she was able to hold fifth place. Tonia Kwiatkowski gave a respectable but unimpressive performance which was stronger than at US Nationals, but still well below her peak form, landing most of her jumps, but putting down a hand on triple Salchow.
Michelle Kwan led off the short program here and started up where she left off in Nashville. She missed the opening triple Lutz in her combination and did not attack her jumps. The double Axel was adequate and her triple toe-loop was of nice quality but not very big. The overall quality of her skating was good and her expression and speed were god enough to hold her in third place despite the 0.4 deduction in the program. Of more concern than the error in the combination is the recent inconsistency in her jumps that now plagues her skating. In the warmup the combination was not working well and she did not have a look of confidence entering the jump in the program.
Tara Lipinski also started here where she left off in Nashville. She had a nice triple Lutz - double loop, and a good triple flip. Her double Axel was clean despite a tendency to throw around on it a little bit. Her presentation was fast and lively and she appears to be on a roll.
Maria Butyrskaya Started off with a wild triple Lutz - double toe, and later landed a triple loop with a nasty wrap. She started off tensely, with an excessively stern expression, and did not entirely warm up to the program until the last minute.
Irina Slutskaya skated a nice program with good speed and expression and outstanding spins. She stepped out of the triple Lutz in her combination; but landed a triple loop with an unusual and difficult entry.
Skating to "Bolero", Olga Markova gave a stand-up performance which was a virtuoso celebration of ugly positions. Her double Lutz - double toe combination was clean but in lacking the required triple jump within it was subject to deduction.
Tonia Kwiatkowski left Nashville without her jumps and they still have not caught up with her. She put two hands down on the opening jump of her combination, turned, and then barely eked out a double toe. She later fell on triple toe as well. She skated fast, and gamely tried to present her program, but with the two major errors she was sunk.
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