Notes and Comments

1 March 1997

Competitive events conclude tonight with the long programs for all four events.

For a meeting of most of the top skaters in each discipline the energy level here is remarkably subdued. Although there were a handful of stand out perfomances in the initial rounds, they were in the minority. Errors in the short programs and cautious skating was more the order of the day during the initial rounds. With Worlds just two weeks away it would be naive to think that all these skaters aren't ready (although a few aren't). It appears more to be the case that the skaters are trying to avoid peaking here, two weeks before they realy want to.

In a press conference yesterday the President of the ISU discussed some of the decisions made at the recent ISU Council meeting in South Africa. The two major item that have sparked attention include the anouncement that the long anticipated Junior Series will be launched next year, and that the ISU will begin studying possible revisions to the scoring system used at ISU events. Few details were available on how the Junior Series would be structured. We will cover these developments in more detail in next month issue of ISIO.

28 February 1997

The Series Final kicks off tonight with the Dance Compulsory Dance (Golden Waltz), followed by the Pairs, Ladies, and Men's short programs. The evening ends with the dancers taking the ice again for the Original Dance.

The Ladies event is a RUS vs. USA contest with three ladies from each country going toe-to-toe. In addition to its interest as a preview for the contest at Worlds in two weeks, there is the added interest of seeing how Tara Lipinski and Michelle Kwan fair against each other after Lipinski's surprise win at US Nationals. On top of that add curiosity about how the season closing performances of Tonia Kwiatkowski, who fell off the US World Team after a disasterous performance in Nashville two weeks ago, will turn out. This competition could prove to be Kwiatkowski's swan song for the season, and perhaps her eligible competitive career.

The Men's event is a good matchup of the top contenders at Worlds, with four of the six have previously attempted and/or landed quads in competition. Whether this proves to be a battle of the quads, and whether Eldredge joins that group is the big question here.

The Pairs event has been limited to only four team. Eltsova/Bushkov and Woetzel/Steuer have chased each other all season and we expect that to continue here. Prior to US Nationals there was some thought that Meno/Sand might be able to improve on their third place finish at Worlds last year and move up this year; maybe even challenge for the Gold in Laussane. After Nashville, however, the question is whether they be able to shake off their loss of the US Championships and remain competitive at all.

The dance event, while consisting of five quality teams, lacks the matchups we would really like to see, and which would give some perspective on the upcoming World Championships - Grischuk/Platov vs. Krylova Ovsiannikov and Moniotte/Lavanchy vs. Anissina/Peizerat. The most interesting question here may be the outcome for Bourne and Kraatz. They need to do well here if they expect to repeat for a medal in Lausanne. They will, without question, be enthusiastically supported by their countrymen. An audience of at least 9,000 is expected for tonight and over 11,000 tickets have thusfar been sold for tomorrow.

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