Grand Prix Final

Ladies Event

By Sandra Stevenson

Place Skater Country SP FS
1 Fumie Suguri JPN 1 1
2 Sasha Cohen USA 2 2
3 Shizuka Arakawa JPN 5 3
4 Elena Laishenko UKR 3 4
5 Yoshie Onda JPN 4 6
6 Julia Sebestyen HUN 6 5


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Julia Sebestyen
  2. Yoshie Onda
  3. Shizuka Arakawa
  4. Fumie Suguri
  5. Elena Laishenko
  6. Sasha Cohen


Short Program Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Fumie Suguri JPN
2 Sasha Cohen USA
3 Elena Laishenko UKR
4 Yoshie Onda JPN
5 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
6 Julia Sebestyen HUN

The depth of talent in this division in Japan was demonstrated by the fact that three of six entries were from that country.

Julia Sebestyen of Hungary was the last to qualify, with 14 points earned with bronze medals in Skate Canada and Trophťe Lalique. Performing to Shostakovichís moody waltz in a minor key, in a pleasant white outfit with light green trimming, the 22 year old executed a good triple flip but doubled the Lutz combined with double toe loop.

Her score of 48.36 placed her sixth. "I donít know why I didnít do the combination," she said with resignation.

Next up was Japanís Yoshie Onda, who had qualified with 16 points garnered from second place in Cup of China and third in NHK. Skating the day before her 21st birthday to Gershwinís Three Preludes in a black sleeveless dress, she sailed through her triple Lutz to double toe combo and triple flip but got a slight minus for her final element the change foot combination spin Level 2. "I felt good out there," she commented. Her score was 54.50, which was fourth best.

Also from Japan Shizuka Arakawa qualified with 18 points from silver medals in Skate Canada and Trophťe Lalique. (Her bronze at Skate America was her non-scoring event.)

In a black and white dress, Arakawa performed to an up beat, unusual variation of Tchaikovskyís Swan Lake. The 21 year old said, "The flow was good but I made some mistakes tonight. I am not comfortable with the short program and need to skate it more in practice."

She did her triple toe loop to double toe loop combination but she doubled the flip. Her score, 53.34, put her in fifth place.

Fumie Suguri qualified with 19 points with third place in Cup of China and a win in NHK. Skating all in black including black tights which only partially covered her white boots, and black gloves, Suguri, who was to turn 22 on New Yearís Eve, gave a superb performance to a non-vocal version of the Rolling Stonesí Paint it Black with each of the eight elements cleanly, speedily, and confidently executed.

"I hadnít heard of the Rolling Stones but I love this music. My choreographer, Lori Nichols, loaned me the CD," Suguri explained. "I always did well in practice but then I couldnít do what I did in practice in competition until now. Tonight was exactly what I have been training for. This event will also prepare me for the nationals and this experience is one small step in getting me ready."

Suguri earned 62.02 which was 1.22 ahead of second place.

Elena Liashenko, a 27 year old Ukrainian, appears to be late coming into her own. She qualified with 21 points with a win in Cup of Russia and a second place in NHK. Attired in light blue chiffon, she began with a good triple Lutz to double toe loop which was marred by the long telegraphed approach.

"I had some problems in practice," Liashenko revealed, "But it worked out just fine in competition. I was very concentrated. Maybe I didnít skate with too many emotions, but I was focused. Here you need to save strength."

She took third place with a score of 60.54.

Sasha Cohen was the top qualifier gaining the maximum points, 24, by winning Skate America and Trophťe Lalique. She was the runaway favorite so it was very suprising to find her in second place.

The 19 year old, dazzling and elegant in canary yellow, attacked her Malaguena music, but something went wrong on the triple Lutz and she fell badly. "Looking at the positives," she said later, "I was able to refocus quickly and get my confidence back for the (triple) flip. Going into the Lutz, my timing was a little bit off and Iíll work on that and get ready for tomorrow night."

The Lutz was not fully rotated and so was classed as a double which meant she received only 1.9 base value with a grade of execution of minus 1.0. That gave her only 0.9 for trying the move.

Even her spiral sequence was not awarded Level 3 which she gained when winning in Paris. For Level 3 it is necessary to have a change of edge which Cohen had but she needed to hold it for longer. (None of the skaters earned a Level 3 for any move.)

Cohen did not arrive until the very last minute. She wanted to arrive in Colorado Springs, and compete before the altitude got to her.


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Julia Sebestyen
  2. Shizuka Arakawa
  3. Yoshie Onda
  4. Elena Laishenko
  5. Sasha Cohen
  6. Fumie Suguri


Free Skating Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Fumie Suguri JPN
2 Sasha Cohen USA
3 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
4 Elena Laishenko UKR
5 Julia Sebestyen HUN
6 Yoshie Onda JPN

Fumie Suguri

Cohen came into this event as overwhelming favorite but that was a little short sighted because Suguri has beaten Cohen in the last two worlds in which she took the bronze medal and Cohen finished fourth. As in all the final events here, competitors skated in reverse order to their finish in the short.

First to skate was Sebestyen, the European championship bronze medal winner who hopes to win that event this February in her hometown, Budapest. Although she was only 14th in the last world championship, she had been eighth the year before and is a graceful performer with very high jumps.

Performing to Jealousy and other Tangos, she began with a triple Salchow gaining just the base value of 4.8. +1.0 Grade of Execution was added to the bv (base value) of 7.4 for her triple Lutz to double toe loop. She also got +0.60 GoE for her triple loop (bv 5.3), and +0.80 for her second triple Lutz (bv 6.1).

She completed the revolutions but fell on her triple flip which meant 3.00 was taken the off bv of 5.6. She recovered with a combination of triple and double toe loops for which she was awarded the straight base value of 5.8. Towards the end of the routine she presented a nice double Axel (bv 3.3 GoE +0.40).

The only element for which she received a minus, in addition to the triple flip, was her Level 1 spiral sequence which got -0.12 GoE taken off the bv of 2.0.

Sebestyenís total element score was 53.19, which was third highest, and she was given 50.56 total program component score, the fifth highest. Although collectively these marks were fifth highest, when they were added to those she received for the short, they were not enough to advance her from sixth place

Sebestyen said, "I was sick with the flu last week and I couldnít train so much and wasnít so well prepared. I just wanted to show what I can do and Iím quite happy with my program overall."

Arakawa, who is from Miyagi-Kon, now trains in Rochester, MI, with Richard Callaghan. She was eighth in the last world championship.

Dressed in black and performing to music from Pucciniís opera, Turandot, she began with a triple Lutz to double toe loop (bv 7.4 GoE +1.00), which she had planned as a triple-triple. There followed a triple Salchow (bv 4.8 GoE +1.00) and triple flip (bv 5.6 GoE +0.80). However her triple loop received a slight deduction -0.20 GoE on the bv of 5.3.

Her double Axel (3.3 bv GoE +0.80) was at the start of the anaerobic section and therefore the 4.1 score was multiplied by a bonus number (1.1) which meant she received 4.51. Later she did a second triple Lutz (bv 6.1 GoE Ė0.20) but she only just held onto her final jump, a triple toe (bv 4.5 GoE -1.20), and couldnít do the planned second jump, a double toe.

She has a pleasant soft flow to her skating. She was the only skater in the womenís long to receive a Level 3 for any move, which was for her Spiral Step Sequence (bv 3.4 GoE +0.60). That helped earn her a total element score of 55.43 which was the second highest and a total program component score of 58.50 (third best). The two scores, added, put her third in the free and that was good enough to pull her up from fifth to third overall.

Arakawa said, "My skating was much better (than in the short) even though I found it tougher to skate because of the altitude."

Onda, who finished 11th in Washington DC in her third world championship, is from Aichi where she trains with Machiko Yamada who guided the first woman to do a triple axel, Midori Ito, to her world title and Olympic silver medal.

Skating to ĎGod Moving Over the Face of the Watersí by Moby, Onda completed her triple Lutz to double toe but fell on an under-rotated triple flip which was classified as a double. The double flip has a base value of 1.7. You canít take three points off that bv for the fall because you would be subtracting marks earned for other elements. In this case you subtract an adjusted amount Ė in this case -1.0 which leaves 0.7 earned for the triple flip attempt. If the jump had been completely aborted then, of course, it would get zero points.

Onda later succeeded with the triple flip and tacked a double toe onto that. Jumps performed after the skater goes into the anaerobic stage get extra credit so that triple flip to double toe loop, bv 6.9 with a zero GoE, actually earned 7.59.

Onda also brought off a triple loop, second triple Lutz and triple Salchow although her double Axel, almost at the end of the four minutes, received a slight minus.

Her total element score was 50.18 (fifth best) but her total program component score was only 48.32 (sixth best) and that dropped her from fourth to fifth.

Onda said, "I was tired out there. Iím not used to the altitude. I was very surprised when I fell on the triple flip. What happened? I told myself to relax and I was able to come back and hit my other jumps. It was difficult to breathe, though. I tried my best. Itís my birthday today (she was 21) and itís the first time that I competed on my birthday."

Liashenko, who is taught by Marina Amirkhanova in Kiev, has been around for many years. She won the bronze medal in the 1995 European championships but has not been able to recapture to that form. She was seventh in the last Worlds.

She got -0.20 on her first move, triple Lutz to double toe, possibly because of the long telegraphed approach, and a -0.40 on the triple flip to double toe. Her triple Salchow had 1.80 taken off because she put both hands on the ice and she singled her second triple Lutz.

However she got plus GoEs on her first triple flip, her triple toe and her double Axel. She made no attempt at a triple loop.

Her total element score, 48.30, was the lowest but her total program component score, 56.32 was fourth best. That meant she was fourth in the free. That dropped her from third to fourth overall.

"It was difficult," she said. "Not everything worked out, and I didnít have the strength left at the end. Thatís why the mistakes happened. I tried hard but I couldnít do everything."

Cohen, who is taught by Tatiana Tarasova in Connecticut, had a brilliant beginning to this season but perhaps the pace is telling. She won the Campbellís International Classic, beating for the first time ever the five time world and seven time US champion Michelle Kwan. She also took first place in three Grand Prix events in the US, Canada and France.

However, in a television event in Auburn Hills, Michigan, a week before this contest she fell three times and finished third behind Kwan and Arakawa. She didnít arrive in Colorado Springs till the last minute. Skaters have said that by the fifth day the altitude really gets to you and she planned to be in and out by then.

Performing to that perennial favorite, Tchaikovskyís Swan Lake, Cohen began with a triple Lutz but did not add the planned double toe loop. She received -0.60 Grade of Execution which was subtracted from the 6.1 base value. Her following move, triple flip to double toe gained a +0.60 to the bv of 6.9. The triple loop came next (+0.80 GoE added to the bv 5.3).

Her double Axel gained +0.60 GoE on 3.3 bv. Her four spins and two footwork sequences all gained a Level 2 as did her Spiral Sequence. Her first fall was on a triple toe loop. It looked to me as if the blade just stopped as if it had got caught in a rut but Cohen would not hide behind that possible explanation.

She said, "I just have to be stronger in my landing. It was a surprise because I landed and just slipped of the blade. The toe has been easy for me and I donít remember the last time I missed a toe, even in practice. It definitely was a shock."

Perhaps the judges also thought it was a rut because four of them gave a GoE of only -2 instead of the specified -3. The judges all pushed the -3 button when she fell again a short time later on the flip which was deemed only a bad double because she was more than a quarter short on the triple rotation.

Cohen pulled herself together and completed a triple Salchow.

She said, "At the end I was definitely more tired and it was tougher to push through but I donít think (the altitude) was a factor on the falls. I have a lot of work to do when I get home and train. I havenít had a lot of time to train with the Grand Prix schedule.

Cohenís total element score, 52.44, was only fourth best. However her total component score was the highest, 64.24. That put her second in the free. She had been second in the short and was second overall.

Suguri, the three time Japanese champion from Tokyo, started to skate in Alaska where her father, a pilot for an international airline, was stationed. She is trained by Nobuo Sato, the father of world champion Yuko Sato.

Her music was from Mozartís Symphony No. 40. Dressed in turquoise she changed her opening move from a combination of two triple toe loops to triple-double and a triple loop in the middle of the routine was a mess, under-rotated and landed on two feet.

There was a slight deduction on the second triple Lutz, but the rest of the routine was wonderful. She said, "There were a few mistakes so it wasnít perfect but it was a good step towards the next competition which is Nationals. Nationals are very hard and very important. I canít lose there. There will be more pressure. I wanted to gain confidence in this event. I skated better than at the beginning of the season."

Suguriís total element score was 57.18 which was the highest but her total program component score was 62.88 which was 1.36 behind Cohen. That meant she won this section by a lead of 3.38 over Cohen. Overall she took first place 4.60 points ahead of the American.


2003 Grand Prix Final Ladies Medalists


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