2004 U.S. Nationals

Senior Ladies

by Alexandra Stevenson

 
Standings
Place Skater SP FS
1 Michelle Kwan 2 1
2 Sasha Cohen 1 2
3 Jennifer Kirk 3 3
4 Amber Corwin 5 4
5 Angela Nikodinov 4 5
6 Ann Patrice McDonough 6 6
7 Beatrisa Liang 7 7
6 Jennifer Don 9 8
9 Jane Bugaeva 11 10
10 Danielle Kahle 14 9
11 Alexandra Patterson 10 11
12 Alissa Czisny 8 15
13 Stephanie Rosenthal 15 12
14 Andrea Gardiner 13 13
15 Aanya Reiten 12 14
16 Louann Donovan 16 17
17 Natalie Mecher 19 16
18 Suzy McDonald 18 18
19 Erica Archambault 20 19
20 Felicia Beck 21 20
w Yebin Mok 17 -

 

Short Program

 
Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Ann Patrice McDonough
  2. Erica Archambault
  3. Jane Bugaeva
  4. Beatrisa Liang
  5. Sasha Cohen
  6. Angela Nikodinov
  7. Alexandra Patterson
  8. Amber Corwin
  9. Michelle Kwan
  10. Felicia Beck
  11. Louann Donovan
  12. Jennifer Don
  13. Aanya Reiten
  14. Andrea Gardiner
  15. Stephanie Rosenthal
  16. Natalie Mecher
  17. Danielle Kahle
  18. Jennifer Kirk
  19. Alissa Czisny
  20. Suzy McDonald
  21. Yebin Mok

 

Short Program Placements
Place Skater
1 Sasha Cohen
2 Michelle Kwan
3 Jennifer Kirk
4 Angela Nikodinov
5 Amber Corwin
6 Ann Patrice McDonough
7 Beatrisa Liang
8 Alissa Czisny
9 Jennifer Don
10 Alexandra Patterson
11 Jane Bugaeva
12 Aanya Reiten
13 Andrea Gardiner
14 Danielle Kahle
15 Stephanie Rosenthal
16 Louann Donovan
17 Yebin Mok
18 Suzy McDonald
19 Natalie Mecher
20 Erica Archambault
21 Felicia Beck


Twenty minutes after the conclusion of the menís short programs, three of the top contenders in the Ladies event were on the ice warming up Ė Ann Patrice McDonough, who drew to skate first of the 21 women, and Beatrisa Liang and Sasha Cohen, who had picked the fourth and fifth spots.

Cohen, in her canary yellow sleeveless outfit with its ruffled skirt, got what she said she wanted Ė a standing ovation and first place. She fully earned that response giving a masterful performance to her "Malaguena" music.

Cohen was definitely "on", shattering the dire predictions emanating from those Cassandras who warned that her recent coaching change to Robin Wagner would cause traumatic problems because it was so close to this event.

Cohenís triple Lutz to double toe was solid, the triple flip excellent, the flying camel transitioned beautifully from back outside to forward inside edges, the double Axel flowed, the layback brought significant applause which became even greater for the Charlotte spiral and when the combo spin ended with her pulling her free leg into a split with her foot high over a head, the stadium erupted into standing ovation.

 

While they were waiting for the marks in the kiss and cry area, Cohen and Wagner talked. What were they discussing? Well, they were watching a video of the routine. Wagner explained, "Everything was beautiful but, yes, we were talking about the moves. It was an opportunity for reenforcement. You donít want to lose or waste a second of training time.

Cohen says about Wagner, "We just connected as people on and off the ice. I look forward to training so much."

Strangely, Cohen received only seven first places. One judge put her second and another, Joe Driano from Edmonds in Washington, gave his first to Jenny Kirk and put Cohen third.

But Cohen was in seventh heaven. "Iím really ecstatic. Iíve had a lot of joy brought back into my skating - the same joy like when I was eight years old sliding all over the place. Itís always exciting when you have a strong field. Itís motivating. My best friend and worst enemy when Iím on the ice is myself. I donít have motivation from outside. This all comes from within. Iím not into medals. My medals are in a box in the garage."

Michelle Kwan, dressed in a sleeveless muted mid-blue outfit, and skating to "The Feeling Begins", was second. She struggled to hold the landing of her first move, the double Axel, but quickly recouped and did a first rate double Lutz to double toe loop and triple flip. The layback had the required number of revolutions and the crowd went wild, as usual, over her trademark forward inside to outside spiral.

In addition to the one first place the 23 year old had seven votes of second and one third. "I had a little bobble on the double axel, but I havenít done a short for ten months since the last worlds. Short programs are very stressful. You have eight elements to execute, or be executed. Itís nice to have the day between (short and long) to recover."

This is Kwanís twelfth appearance in nationals. She was 6th the first year, in 1993. Since then she has won three silvers and seven golds. "Iíve been fortunate to have such a long career. You would think itíd get old. But itís the tension. You can cut it on the ice. Iíve had so many rivals over the years. Seeing the rookies Ė knowing how they feel Ė itís exciting."

 

She says she has been rejuvenated by her new coach, Rafael Arutunian. "Iím able to trust him on the ice. He can guide you or hold you head to the ice."

Also delighted with her performance, which is to music from the movie "Chicago", was Jenny Kirk who took the ice at almost 10:30 when the audience had thinned somewhat. She looked absolutely gorgeous in a champagne colored, sleeveless concoction with much tasteful silvery sparkle.

The 19 year old, who is taught by Richard Callaghan, flew through the outgoing routine which opened with a triple combination only the second one of the event. At the end she pumped her hand into the air and the crowd responded with a standing ovation.

"I was thrilled with the way I skated. Itís almost like a show program. After I get the hard elements out of the way, I can relax and have fun. The short is very stressful. Itís only the second time Iíve done triple toe loop to triple toe loop and only the first time Iíve done triple Lutz out of footwork."

In fourth place is Angela Nikodinov, who drew to skate fifth. The 23 year old has been plagued with shoulder problems. She suffered a reinjury at the 2003 nationals and had to withdraw. She has since had surgery.

Nikodinov, who is now trained by Igor Paskevich, gave a pleasing performance although she leaned in the triple Lutz which meant she had to two foot the landing before getting into the air for the double toe loop.

Amber Corwin, who is coached by Cindy Stuart & Brian Wright, lies fifth. She looked very sophisticated in her black costume with elbow length gloves, as elegant as Audrey Hepburn did staring in the movie "Moon River" from which the music for Corwinís routine came.

Corwin, who is 25 and is from Hermosa Beach, CA, did a combination of two triple toe loops and a triple Lutz from foot work.

Ann Patrice McDonough, in red and gold, lies sixth. The 18 year old, who trains in Colorado Springs with Catarina Lindgren & Tom Dickson, threw off a soft double Axel but fell on the first jump of her combination, the triple Lutz. She accomplished the triple flip and her spins are known for being outstanding. Her music was from the ballet "Spartacus". The first set of marks ranged from one 4.3 up to two 4.7s. The second set comprised two 5.2s and seven 5.3s which translated into five sixth places, two sevenths and two eights.

Lying seventh is Beatrisa Liang, whose trainer, Tiffany Chin, who absent because she was expecting he imminent arrival of her first child. The 15 year old started her Carmen routine with a double Axel that was landed on her toe and then fell on her triple Lutz that was to be her combination but her triple flip was good and she has outstanding spirals and spins.

Alissa Czisny, a 16 year old from Bowling Green, Ohio, took eighth place. Unlike last year, her twin did not qualified for this event. Dressed in fuchsia, Czisny delighted the audience with splendid spirals which included a forward Charlotte, and layback and combination spins which included a Biellmann.

Jennifer Don gained ninth place. The 19 year old who is taught by Mary Scotvold & Paul Wylie, is also competing in senior pairs. She started unusually Ė with her straight line step sequence. She completed her triple toe to double toe, an easier combination than most other competitors but one which was accomplished with a lot of height and speed. However, she fell on her triple Salchow from footwork. Her music, Journey of Man from Cirque du Soleil didnít contribute much to the performance.

Buried in 17th place was Yebin Mok, who was sixth last year. Skated last of the 21 women, the 19 year old had a disastrous time. Dressed in black with spiraling detail, and accompanied by Ravelís Bolero, she did a single Lutz to double toe loop, doubled the triple toe from footwork and fell on her double Axel.

 

Free Skate

 
Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Suzy McDonald
  2. Erica Archambault
  3. Natalie Mecher
  4. Felicia Beck
  5. Louann Donovan
  6. Stephanie Rosenthal
  7. Aanya Reiten
  8. Andrea Gardiner
  9. Danielle Kahle
  10. Beatrisa Liang
  11. Jane Bugaeva
  12. Jennifer Don
  13. Alexandra Patterson
  14. Alissa Czisny
  15. Sasha Cohen
  16. Amber Corwin
  17. Angela Nikodinov
  18. Michelle Kwan
  19. Jennifer Kirk
  20. Ann Patrice McDonough

 

Free Skating Placements
Place Skater
1 Michelle Kwan
2 Sasha Cohen
3 Jennifer Kirk
4 Amber Corwin
5 Angela Nikodinov
6 Ann Patrice McDonough
7 Beatrisa Liang
8 Jennifer Don
9 Danielle Kahle
10 Jane Bugaeva
11 Alexandra Patterson
12 Stephanie Rosenthal
13 Andrea Gardiner
14 Aanya Reiten
15 Alissa Czisny
16 Natalie Mecher
17 Louann Donovan
18 Suzy McDonald
19 Erica Archambault
20 Felicia Beck

 


So itís corny but Kwan was Kwanderful. She lived up to every expectation, to everything thatís ever been written in praise of her. She delivered the goods and the sport should be grateful. Was it better than Philadelphia Nationals in 2002? Let the debates start. Should we lynch the two judges who didnít give her 6.0 for presentation? (Kathleen McBride of San Francisco and Debbie Currie of Fairview, PA) Well, maybe not. But even they conceded it was a special moment to be savored for years to come.

Kwan had spent the day quietly in her room and on the internet. "There is very little to do. You only have one 20 minute practice. After yesterdayís practice, I knew I could do a clean program. Working with Rafael (Arutunian, her coach since mid-November) helps a great deal. He gave me confidence tonight. I almost was real excited, like things were falling into place, like how they said in 2002 at the Games, ĎLight the Fireí."

She took the ice wearing an orange Vera Wang outfit with a low neckline, made the way she likes, not too fussy. "Itís a very modern look but very comfortable. (Wang) is a skater and knows what works on the ice," Kwan explained. It had only been finished only the day before.

"I knew that Sasha had skated really well to get a 6.0. I knew I had to give it my all. You know, I don't know how to describe it. The intensity of the moment, when you're sitting in the locker room, putting on your skates and getting ready, hearing the marks. The warm-up went well. Seldom does a skater enjoy the six minutes out there."

There was a tension filled moment when she took up her starting position, fourth of the top six, not knowing whether this would turn out to be a disaster as in 1997, knowing that television was going live and if she did bomb she was stuck out on the ice for four interminable minutes.

But everything went perfectly. She began with a triple loop followed by triple Lutz to double toe. Then came triple flip, double Axel, flying camel, triple Salchow, layback spin and combination spin.

From the moment two thirds into her Tosca routine when she charged into her trademark forward inside to outside spiral you had to be dead not to get chills up your spine. Kwan knew it was special, too. "I heard the crowd get louder and louder on the spiral. I could feel the electricity. I said to myself, ĎCalm down. You still have elements to do.í

The triple toe and footwork into the second Lutz went fine. "After the triple Lutz, I let go. I thought, ĎIím not going to trip on (the straight line) footwork.í So I relaxed and enjoyed myself. Itís a feeling I canít describe. You donít get it in practice. You donít have 14,000 people watching you in practice. Itís what keeps me competing.

When she completed her final move, the death drop, the entire stadium erupted into a deafening standing ovation, and the chant calling for sixes began.

"I love the emotion. It was like I was laughing and crying at the same time. The adrenalin surge is addictive. I felt solid out there. I feel like the luckiest person to skate my very, very best at the right time."

Teddy bears and flowers rained down on the ice in torrents and the crowd got what they wanted. The technical marks consisted of five 5.9s and four 5.8s. And for presentation those seven 6.0s and two 5.9s.

The sixes increased Kwanís total gained in U.S. Nationals to 35. Her total in major competitions, excluding those earned in puff competitions, is 44. This was her seventh consecutive national title and eighth overall which is more than any woman except Maribel Vinson Owen, who won nine in the 1928-33 and 1935-37 when Sonja Henie was just introducing short knee length skirts and white instead of black boots.

Kwan had previously beaten Vinson Owenís the record for the most number of medals in a U.S. Senior championship. Vinson Owen won only one silver, while Kwan has three. In addition to her seven first places, Kwan was second three times (in the infamous 1994 event when Nancy Kerrigan was whacked on the knee by associates of Tonya Harding; in 1995 when Nicole Bobek took the title and in 1997 when she was dethroned by Tara Lipinski).

But Kwan isnít counting. "I don't think it's about stacking medals. Titles are just titles. For me, itís just doing the performance I want out there. It's more the experience of nationals and being out there enjoying a performance. I gain so much more than just the medal itself.

"It's been a magical night. It makes this a cherry on top of a perfect sundae. I couldn't ask for more. Itís been a crazy couple of months for me. I didn't know if I'd be at nationals. It was up and down."

Kwan competed only twice this season. She was soundly beaten by Sasha Cohen in a made-for-television competition in October where she admitted she had got a late start to the season and was ill prepared.

Then, although she completely eclipsed Cohen in another made for television event in Auburn Hills, she still was not in great shape and fell.

At that point, she had just switched coaches and is now being guided by Rafael Arutunian. "I told her if she wanted to skate with me, she would have to want to compete," said Arutunian, whose goal for her is the one medal she doesnít have Ė an Olympic gold.

"I had watched her before in Lake Arrowhead but I didn't realize till now what a strong person she is. Sheís No. 1. Everyone wants to beat her." He plans to push her forward technically including triple-triple jumps in her repertory. "Figure skating grows up and develops, and she should go faster than anything develops. I will try to make her do some new stuff."

How long will Kwan go? Kwan answers the question, with a question. "When is enough enough? I wish I knew. I spoke to a lot of skaters that have turned professional like Brian Boitano. He said, ĎOne day you feel like you are done competing.í I don't think that time has come for me quite yet. I love competing. I love the intensity. I love sitting in the hotel room and thinking how you are going to feel like."

Missing for the first time at a major competition was her father Danny, who could always be found pacing outside the stadium chain smoking.

"My dadís at home (in Los Angeles). Heís always been nervous but my momís here. Sheís cool as a cucumber. You know Iím growing up. Thereís only so much a parent can do besides hold your hand. Itís time. Iím 23. His excuse was he had to take care of the dogs."

Sasha Cohen had looked great winning the short program but she seemed tense before the long. Skating first after the warm-up, she did a "Baiul" after her name was called taking ages to take up her starting position. (1994 Olympic champion, Oksana Baiul, said she waited until her skates told her it was time to skate.)

She began the Swan Lake routine which brought her success in Skate America, Skate Canada and Trophy Lalique with two double toe loop combinations, triple Lutz and triple flip. Then came a triple loop, a spin combination which ended with her "high kick, foot pulled overhead spin" and a double Axel.

Her wonderful, famous split position spiral seemed shorter than usual. She did a third double toe combination, this one with a triple Salchow followed by a camel spin.

But then the force of destiny stepped in. She completely missed the landing on the triple toe loop collapsing into a sit. It was obvious from the take off, she wasnít going to be successful. However, she recovered well and executed a second triple Lutz and Salchow and her marvelous layback spin. Serpentine footwork brought her to her last move, a combination spin.

That meant both Kwan and Cohen completed six triples, and although three of Cohenís were combinations to only one of Kwanís, Cohenís fall clearly took her out of contention. She was rightly given unanimous second places with technical marks of two 5.6s, five 5.7s, and two 5.8s.

Whatever possessed Steve Winkler from Palm Springs, CA, to award Cohen a 6.0 for the presentation mark? (Seven of the eight other judges gave 5.8 and the remaining official punched in 5.9.) New rules mean you donít have to be absolutely perfect to get a 6.0, but Cohen was not her charismatic brilliant best and the fall was ugly.

The normally effervescent Cohen said her program was, "Good. Just kind of good. Not what I wanted. Itís kind of sad to say that every program I've done in practice has been better than that. It was a surprise to miss the toe. I felt like I went for it, but my timing was a little off. I guess I'm still at the point where I'm waiting to put my best out there at the right time. Iím getting better."

The toe loop is considered the easiest triple. It was one of the three jumps she fell on, when competing while ill in Auburn Hills in early December.

Robin Wagner, who guided Sarah Hughes to Olympic gold, has been teaching Cohen for two weeks and they must surely still be at the getting to know one another stage. However Wagner said, "I truly believe that sheís starting to understand how she can get to a place where she can do that."

Cohen has only competed in seniors three times, always winning silver. (In 2001 she had to withdraw due to back problems.)

Cohen and Jennifer Kirk, who finished third despite the flu, were asked how it felt to be competing alongside the veteran Kwan.

Cohen confessed, "To tell you the truth, my plan was to go to 2002 to Salt Lake, to win, to retire and kind of do exactly what Tara [Lipinski] did." She has the same plans for 2006 but "I just have to take it a year at a time. Things have kept progressing. I'm enjoying competing more. I can't really definitively say."

At the press conference with the three medalists facing a large area full of reporters, Kirk, who stayed third, said, "I feel almost privileged to sit here with Michelle. I went to the í95 nationals in Providence. Iíd only been skating a couple of months and I remember I was in awe of her. Her career is something I dream of having."

Kirk had the unenviable task of skating right after Kwanís raucous reception. Skating to the ever popular "Die Fledermaus", she gave a graceful showing despite a bad fall on a triple Salchow to gain unanimous thirds to maintain her place and gain the bronze.

Amber Corwin, at 25 the oldest competitor, was over the moon when she realized she had moved up from fifth to fourth. She was the only competitor to complete a triple-triple combination (two toe loops).

Corwin first competed as a senior in 1995. For the past two years she finished eighth which was disappointing because she had been fifth the previous two years and sixth the year before.

"I'm kind of in shock. I feel like I'm finally seeing all my work paying off. So many times I thought of throwing in the towel, even though skating is my passion. It's so nice to be rewarded."

Angela Nikodinov had a lean on her opening jump, a triple Lutz which she had planned as a combination. Her second jump, a triple flip was nice but on her third move she fell on the triple loop which was the end of a sequence starting with a double Axel and half loop. Her layback was lovely but she doubled her three other triples and was lucky not to drop more than one place to fifth.

Ann Patrice McDonough doubled her planned triple toe and triple Salchow, fell on her triple flip and was forced to put her hand on the ice in the split jump to triple flip. Nevertheless she stayed sixth.

Yebin Mok, who suffered a stress fracture in her back, withdrew.

Judges

     J1:  Ron Dei Cas
     J2:  Jessica Bussgang
     J3:  Todd Bromley
     J4:  Joseph Driano
     J5:  Steve Winkler
     J6:  Beth Grahan
     J7:  Samuel Auxier
     J8:  Kathleen McBride
     J9:  Deborah Currie

 

Ordinals

Short Program
Place Skater J1 J2 J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 J9 Maj. TOM
1 Sasha Cohen 1 2 1 3 1 1 1 1 1 7/1  
2 Michelle Kwan 2 1 2 2 2 3 2 2 2 8/2  
3 Jennifer Kirk 3 3 3 1 3 2 3 3 3 9/3  
4 Angela Nikodinov 5 4 5 5 4 4 5 4 4 5/4  
5 Amber Corwin 4 5 4 4 5 5 4 5 5 9/5  
6 Ann Patrice McDonough 7 6 6 8 6 7 6 6 7 5/6  
7 Beatrisa Liang 8 7 7 7 7 6 8 7 6 7/7  
8 Alissa Czisny 9 8 8 10 8 8 6 8 7 7/8  
9 Jennifer Don 6 9 9 6 9 11 13 14 9 6/9  
10 Alexandra Patterson 10 16 11 9 10 19 11 11 11 7/11  
11 Jane Bugaeva 12 14 12 13 18 10 12 9 10 6/12 65
12 Aanya Reiten 11 12 13 11 12 12 14 14 12 6/12 70
13 Andrea Gardiner 13 10 10 14 16 9 9 15 17 5/13  
14 Danielle Kahle 14 11 15 16 11 16 10 10 14 6/14  
15 Stephanie Rosenthal 15 13 16 15 13 14 17 17 13 6/15  
16 Louann Donovan 16 15 17 12 14 13 16 16 18 7/16  
17 Yebin Mok 21 17 19 17 15 18 20 12 21 5/18 79
18 Suzy McDonald 17 21 18 19 21 15 21 18 15 5/18 83
19 Natalie Mecher 19 20 14 18 19 17 18 19 19 8/19  
20 Erica Archambault 18 18 20 20 17 20 19 20 15 5/19  
21 Felicia Beck 20 19 21 21 20 21 15 21 20 5/20  

 

Free  Skating
Place Skater J1 J2 J3 J4 J5 J6 J7 J8 J9 Maj. TOM
1 Michelle Kwan 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 9/1  
2 Sasha Cohen 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 2 9/2  
3 Jennifer Kirk 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 9/3  
4 Amber Corwin 4 4 5 4 4 4 4 4 5 7/4  
5 Angela Nikodinov 5 5 4 5 6 6 7 6 4 5/5  
6 Ann Patrice McDonough 6 6 6 6 5 8 6 5 7 7/6  
7 Beatrisa Liang 7 9 8 7 7 5 5 7 6 7/7  
8 Jennifer Don 10 7 7 8 9 10 8 8 10 5/8  
9 Danielle Kahle 8 11 9 9 8 7 10 11 8 6/9  
9 Jane Bugaeva 9 8 10 10 11 9 11 10 9 7/10  
11 Alexandra Patterson 11 10 11 11 10 11 9 9 15 8/11  
12 Stephanie Rosenthal 12 14 12 13 14 13 12 12 13 7/13  
13 Andrea Gardiner 15 12 13 12 13 12 14 13 14 6/13  
14 Aanya Reiten 13 13 14 16 15 16 13 15 12 5/14  
15 Alissa Czisny 14 16 17 15 12 15 16 14 11 6/15  
16 Natalie Mecher 16 15 16 14 16 14 15 16 16 9/16  
17 Louann Donovan 17 18 17 17 17 17 17 17 17 7/17  
18 Suzy McDonald 18 17 15 18 18 18 18 18 19 8/18  
19 Erica Archambault 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 18 9/19  
20 Felicia Beck 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 20 9/20  

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