by Alexandra Stevenson
Ironically, they had planned to be in Portland the day before but the roads were impassable from their home in Lake Arrowhead were closed. The tragedy cast a grim shadow over the end and a minute of silence was observed in the Rose Garden before the women’s short.
Michelle Kwan and Nikodinov are the same age, only two months apart, and they both train in Lake Arrowhead. She was in tears when she heard the news. With sadness in her voice she said, "It puts skating into perspective."
The skating world remembered sympathizing with Nikodinov in November 2001 when her coach, Elena Tcherkasskaia, died of pancreatic cancer. She missed much of the 2002 season with shoulder injuries. She also had to be evacuated when the wildfires that swept through Southern California in 2003 came near her training base in Lake Arrowhead, Calif.
Another Californian, Amber Corwin, who has competed against Nikodinov for years, said, "I feel for Angela so much. It's very hard to see someone you care for so much going through so much suffering. We were all thinking of Angela tonight."
Jenny Kirk said, "It’s horrible the way it happened. It’s one of those things that you could never expect to happen and you can’t ask, ‘Why?’ It does put things in perspective and you realize there are so many more important things and you need to take time to tell the people that you care about that you love them."
Others missing: Ann Patrice McDonough, sixth last year, has given up the sport; Jennifer Don, who was 8th last year, withdrew after taking 5th place in the Wednesday’s pairs championship. Alexandra Patterson, who was 11th last year, was 5th in Midwesterns and just marginally did not qualify. Neither did former US Junior champion Andrea Gardiner, who was 14th last year; Also missing was Aanya Reiten, 15th last year. Louann Donovan, 16th last year, who began this season by winning the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany, had to have surgery and a screw inserted in her right foot to repair a broken bone and could not compete in sectionals. There are no medical byes nowadays. Natalie Mecher, 17th last year, withdrew from the Upper Great Lakes Regional. Suzy MacDonald, 18th last year, was forced to withdraw from Easterns. Felicia Beck, 20th last year, didn’t get out of Pacific Coast which also saw former US junior champions Joan Cristobal and Sydne Vogel fail to qualify. Vogel, who spent time trying to skate for Germany, has now returned to trying to compete for the US.
There was a little congestion in the last warm up when Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan nearly collided while jumping and Katy Taylor, who was also too close for comfort, fell. Kwan explained, "There were a lot of things happening. Warm-ups can be pretty intense and Sasha was going all out because she was skating first. You’re so focused on your own skate. Collisions happen a lot in practice. Cohen said, "Michelle was doing an edge jump and it curved a little deeper than intended."
Skating last of the 19 entrants, Kwan, 24, made a solid start to her quest for her 9th overall and 8th consecutive national title. If she accomplishes this feat, she will equal Maribel Vinson Owen’s record. This is Kwan’s 13th senior nationals. She won in ’96 and ’98-’04, took silver in ’94, 95 & 97, and was 6th in her debut in ’93.
She chose to skate in a deep, vibrant red to the well known, powerful music by Aram Khachaturian which is used for the Adagio for the Russian ballet Spartacus, a piece which is renowned in the dance for its choreographed spectacular lifts. Nicholai Morozov did the choreography. It was the first time she had performed her short in competition.
Kwan opened with the double Axel followed by the jump combination, triple Lutz to double toe. What she describes as "Stars into butterfly spin" followed and then footwork in the triple flip. Then there was the combination spin. As the music built she built up speed for her trademark forward inside to outside spiral and the crowd went wild, absolutely bonkers. This is what they had paid their money to see and, to them, she was worth every penny. That requirement was followed by the circular footwork sequence. She obviously has been working very hard this element and it had difficulty, speed and was done with a lot of attack. She finished with the layback spin.
The first set of marks consisted of one 5.6, two 5.7s, four 5.8s and two 5.9s. The second set were all 5.9s except for three 6.0s from Sharon Watson of Los Angeles, Karen Terry of New York and Patricia St. Peter from Minneapolis.
"It was awesome out there," Kwan said. "After the 2002 Olympics, I decided to take it easy and play it by ear. The last few years I haven’t done the Grand Prix series. Last year I decided just to do Skate America and this year I chose not to do the series at all. I felt fine. I’ve competed for many years and there is nothing that I will change going into the long program – just focus."
2. Sasha Cohen, 20, also attired in deep blood red, but adorned with black and accompanied by a rose in her hair, skated to the Russian music, "Dark Eyes" choreographed by Nicholai Morozov. The audience collectively took in their breath as she put her hand down on the triple Lutz but she didn’t fall and the combined double toe was fine. That was her only mistake. The triple flip and double Axel were well done. Her footwork was energetic and suited the music. Her spirals are legendary and her spins, which included stork and high kick positions, are incomparable.
The first set of marks consisted of one 5.4, three 5.6s, four 5.7s and a 5.8. The presentation marks were all 5.8s except of a solitary 5.9. Cohen said, "I feel like this is the first time it’s come together for me this year. With all that’s happened to me I’m really so thankful to be doing what I’m doing." Cohen a series of problems with boots, with a foot infection, and with moving. In December she returned back to California and to John Nicks, the coach she had left two and a half years ago during which time she was trained by Tatiana Tarasova in Connecticut and then, for the past year, by Robin Wagner in New Jersey.
"I was only third in two competitions (the invitationals in St. Paul and Michigan) and didn’t do any Grand Prix events. It’s always nice to have competition, but this year things were a little different. I think it is mainly about being prepared to compete. I’ve matured a lot in my two years on the East Coast. We have a really good time together and I’ve made a lot of improvements. It’s really encouraging." Nicks, a long time US resident who still holds onto his British citizenship and is known for his dry sense of humor, said his reborn mentorship of Cohen, "It’s like a second honeymoon. It doesn’t hold all the delights, surprises and discoveries of the first, but it’s very satisfying." When it was mentioned that he is at an age when most people are retired, he thanked the United States for supporting the rights of the elderly to work.
Cohen has taken three silvers in this event - in her debut in ’00, ’02 & ’04, plus a bronze in ’03. She withdrew due to a back problem in ’01. Last year Cohen was ahead of Kwan after the short and obviously nothing short of gold was going to satisfy her this time.
3. Jennifer Kirk, 20, always has a beautiful presence on the ice and tonight she was superb giving a masterful performance to her music from the Broadway show and movie, "Chicago" choreographed by Lori Nichol. It was a repeat of last year’s short although she substituted triple Lutz to double toe instead of the combination of two triple toes. After this solid move, she sped through footwork into a triple flip, completed her layback spin with consummate polish, smiled through her spiral sequence, soared into her double Axel, executed the correct number of revolutions in her flying camel, saucily moved through her serpentine footwork and finished with a combination spin that concluded with a high kick position.
She said, "I was very thrilled with my performance tonight. I felt that the crowd was really behind me. I’ve been working really hard on practice so that when I go out to compete, I’m able to relax and enjoy it. I’m happy that I was able to do that tonight.
Last year was a challenging one for Kirk. After her disappointing debut at Worlds where she finished a surprisingly disappointing 18th, she switched coaches and training sites moving from Richard Callaghan in Michigan, where she felt the atmosphere was "too intense and had nothing by skating" to Frank Carroll & Ken Congemi in Los Angeles. At that time, Kirk said, "Frank stresses more the performance aspect of the sport." She said she was finding she loved the Californian laid-back way of living and that there were more opportunities for outside activities.
Then she skated so appallingly in the Campbell’s International, she considered leaving the sport. Now she seems back on track. This is Kirk’s 6th time in this event. She was 7th in debut in ’00, 4th in ’01, 5th in ’02 & ’03, and won the bronze in ’04.
4. Making an extremely impressive debut, Kimmie Meissner, 15, used Claude Debussy’s Reverie choreographed by Lori Nichol. She began with a triple Lutz to double toe. The landing edge of her triple out of footwork was rather deep but her double Axel was gorgeous. The ’03 Novice & ’04 Junior champion, is the current world junior runner-up who made an impressive senior international debut in the St. Paul invitational this fall.
Earlier in the day in practice she was amazing spectators throwing off triple Axels. The decision whether to try it in the long won’t be made until the last moment. "If I feel all my jumps are working for me – if my double Axel feels good to me, I might put it in." Meissner was only 4 years old when Kwan was sixth in her first nationals in 1993. "I’ve looked up to her all my life. It’s strange to feel I’m competing against her. It’s sort of surreal. It’s cool."
5. Beatrisa Liang, 16, interpreted music from the movie, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone", delightfully choreographed by Sarah Kawahara. The Pacific Coast Champion gave a great performance bringing off all of her eight elements. Her marks went up to 5.5. Liang is coming back from a nagging hip injury. She was 6th in her debut in this event in ’01, 9th in ’02, and 7th in ’03 & ’04.
6. Katy Taylor, 15, skating in blue to Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, started with her straight line step sequence followed by the triple flip and her spirals. The triple Lutz to double toe and double Axel were solid. She was bubbling with joy as she left the ice. Taylor was runner-up to Meissner in the ’03 Novice & ’04 Junior championships, is making her debut. The bronze medal winner in the ’04 world junior championships, she is the current senior Midwestern champion.
7. Amber Corwin, 26, skating to "Sing, Sing, Sing", managed her triple toe to triple toe but doubled her triple Lutz which took her out of contention. Corwin is competing in her 11th senior nationals. She was 16th in debut in ’95, 6th three times - in ’96, ’98 & ’99, 5th twice - in ’97 & ’01, 13th in ’00, 8th in ’02 & ’03, and 4th in ’04.
8. Alissa Czisny, 17, performed to music from the movie, "The Mission" which began with a very nice triple Lutz to double toe followed by a first rate layback. She completed her footwork into a triple flip but then fell on the double Axel. Her spiral sequence was great. Czizny is making her 4th appearance in this event. She was 11th in her debut in ’02, 10th in ’03, and 12th in ’04. However, this year she received a big confidence booster when she was chosen as a last minute reserve for Skate America and finished 4th. She also filled in at the December 3 Marshall’s invitational and was 5th. Her twin, Amber, had to withdraw from her qualifying event because of injury.
9. Emily Hughes, 15, the older of Olympic champion Sarah’s two younger sisters, started the event and gave the audience a very solid showing to Gershwin music completing all eight elements including double Axel and triple Lutz to double. Her only problem came on the triple flip out of footwork where she jackknifed on the landing.
The 5’5" Hughes is making her debut in senior nationals. She qualified for nationals at junior level in ’02 and ’03 finishing 11th at both. Last year, she took 5th at Sectionals at junior level and failed to get to Nationals. So this was a big step forward for her. Before the event she received a phone call from Sarah, who is taking a year off from Yale to tour with Stars on Ice. And what advise did Sarah give Emily? She said, "Stay vertical", good advice which Emily took to heart and succeeded in doing.
10. Megan Williams-Stewart, 17, skating to music from the movie, "Out of Africa", is making her debut at this level. She did triple Lutz to double toe but her triple loop was strained and her camel spin poor. She did an interesting outside spread into a double Axel. In ’03 she finished 13th in nationals at junior level.
11. Jane Bugaeva, 18, skating to music from the movie, "The Three Musketeers" choreographed by Natalia Efimova, stepped out of her triple Lutz before getting airborne for the double toe. Bugaeva, who was 9th in her debut last year, is the current Eastern champion.
12. Danielle Kahle, 15, chose to do the double Axel as her first move in her perky showing to Hernando’s Hideaway. That went well but she struggled on the landing of the triple out of footwork. Her combination was triple Lutz to double toe. Kahle, who was the ’02 novice champion and ’03 junior bronze medalist, was 10th in her debut last year.
13. Erica Archambault, 16, stepped out of the first jump in her planned combination of two triple toe loops and did only a double for the second jump. Archambault made her debut last year, placing 19th. Her music was "Secret Garden".
14. Stephanie Rosenthal, 17, skated to the "Pink Panther" gave an enjoyable performance. However, doubling her planned triple Salchow flawed what would have been quite an impressive her second appearance. Last year she finished 13th
15. Katherine Hadford, 15, gave a polished showing with excellent spirals, a nice Ina Bauer into her double Axel, and a superb layback. Unfortunately she doubled the Lutz. Hadford, who is making her debut in this event, was 4th in nationals at novice level in ’02. She just failed to get out of Easterns at Junior level the following year. She moved up to Seniors last year but was only 11th at Easterns.
16. Angela Lien, 24, popped her Lutz. This is Lien’s second trip to Nationals. She was 14th in ’99. She qualified again in ’03 but chose, instead, to go to the World Winter University Games in Italy where she won the silver.
17. Yebin Mok, 20, who is making her 5th appearance in this event, had a disastrous time in her routine choreographed to Camille Saint-Saens’ "The Swan". She completed her triple Lutz to double toe but aborted the triple out of footwork and the double Axel. She also had a problem holding the flying camel.
Mok was 10th in her debut in ’01. She repeated that in ’02, and was 6th in ’03. Last year she was forced to withdraw after a poor short program which was the result of loss of practice time due to a stress fracture of her lumbar vertebrae. This year surgery to remove a cyst also reduced her training. She only made the decision to compete a few days before regionals.
18. Shanell Noji, 16, whose mother put her into skating because she was a hyperactive chile, skated to "Cirque du Soleil". She two footed her triple Lutz in the combination, did only a triple toe loop out of the footwork and failed to fully rotate the double Axel. Noji, who was the runner-up for the Novice title in ’01, was 5th at Junior level in nationals last year after being 7th in ’03.
Kwan, television officials, the 13,286 spectators and fans world wide got what they wanted – for her to win with 6.0s. Was Kwan that perfect? No, but she is more than a worthy champion. She has become an icon and this latest feat ties Maribel Vinson Owen’s record of nine US titles. "Tonight was not my best performance but I had a lot of fun. When I came into the building, Rafael (Arutunian, her coach) grabbed me and took me into the arena and said, ‘Look, look all the way to the nose bleeds. How many chances do you get to perform in front of thousands of people?’ Signs were everywhere. It was just completely surreal.
"It was a long wait after the warm-up. I tried to stay focused and, when I got out there, to listen to the music and the crowd and have a good evening," said Kwan who had drawn to skate last of the 18 competitors. She was helped by Cohen, her leading rival, making errors.
It was Kwan’s 13th senior nationals. Like the Energizer Bunny, she keeps on going. For how much longer? She insists she’s taking it day by day and doesn’t know. The only thing missing in her medal collection is Olympic gold. But she insists she skates only because she enjoys competing and not for medals.
Her first entry to senior level nationals was in 1993 after she snuck behind her then coach Frank Carroll’s back and passed the senior test. He wanted to stay in juniors where she had done poorly the year before. But she finished an impressive sixth in that seniors and took her first title three years later. Kwan left Carroll’s tutelage before the 2002 Olympics but in Portland he was generous in his praise for her. "She’s one of the greatest skaters who’s ever lived. She’s a rock star in figure skating. She has an image to uphold, a body to uphold, a skill and ability to uphold and she’s done that for a long time. You can’t overestimate her."
Carroll was trained by Vinson Owen. Kwan said, "There’s a cosmic connection between me and Maribel. She taught Frank and Frank taught me. To be (tied) with her is something else." Vinson Owen competed in an era in which there were far fewer people in the sport, but the competitive spirit was just as strong. Owen went on to become the first woman sports writer for the New York Times and a fierce coach. Carroll said, "She scared the daylights out me" and she once threw a chair at Ron Ludington. She died before her time. Both her daughters were at the start of their top level careers in the sport. Laurence, 16, was the ladies US champion and Maribel Y. , 20, was the pairs champion. All three died, along with the rest of the US team in a plane crash on their way to the 1961 world championships.
Kwan first nationals win came in 1996. "I remember trying to win my first one and trying to get the plate and the medal and you get the pin that has the diamond on it." She had been expected to win the year before but that was Nicole Bobek’s peak year. Bobek not only eclipsed Kwan in nationals but took the bronze medal at Worlds with Kwan fourth. Kwan, who was then known as a jumping bean, realized she had to develop in the presentation area if she was to win the world crown. The following year she emerged with a more sophisticated persona and the Salome routine that dethroned Lu Chen in Edmonton. Both Kwan and Chen got sixes then but Kwan got the world title because she had one more triple.
"Nine incredible national championships – every one so different and so unique. I’m going to be sad that 6.0s are gone. It was the same feeling when I skated in the last competition ever at the Broadmoor. Getting the last 6.0s ever awarded was sweet. Too bad they don’t give free cars anymore." A sponsor used to award skaters a car if they received sixes. "When I get older, I’ll put up my pictures with all the sixes."
After Kwan, the story was Kimmie Meissner landing a triple Axel, the first time it has been accomplished in a US nationals since Tonya Harding executed a far better version of the three and a half turn jump in 1991 when she won her first title. Tonya repeated the triple Axel when she took second place in the 1991 world championship. Meissner is a few months underage to be allowed into the world championships.
Meissner said, "It’s not disappointing for me. I mean, it would be great to go to Worlds, but Junior Worlds is going to be a lot of fun, too, and I look forward to doing it." The junior event is in Kitchener, Ontario, at the beginning of March. Meissner was second in 2004. Meissner was only a year old when Harding did her triple Axel in Minneapolis. But she saw video of that moment when she was fairly young. "I was just shocked that you could twirl that many times," said a giggly Meissner.
Several skaters have done the triple Axel in practice. Peggy Fleming talked of seeing past US champion Tiffany Chin do one. Elizabeth Kwon was seen doing them but it only counts if you can execute them in a significant competition and the referee ratifies the jump. Harding was asked recently about why no one else had been successful. "If you don’t have the guts to throw yourself up in the air and know that when you land it, it will hurt if you don’t do it right, you won’t do it."
Harding was short but very muscular, similar to Midori Ito’s build. Both had powerful legs. Ito was the first woman to execute the triple Axel. Meissner has a very small body that is perhaps not fully grown. However, she may be like Tara Lipinski and always be small which means she will continue to be able to rotate extremely fast and tight in the air.
Kwan was backstage during Meissner’s performance. She said, "When I heard the big scream (from the audience) I knew she’d landed it. It’s great for skating. This is the hometown of Tonya Harding, so it’s the perfect place for her to try and land it."
Harding was from Portland and still lives nearby - across in state border in Vancouver, Washington State, but, surprisingly, she kept a low profile all week. There was no evidence she was watching the event. She has become a boxer and has had six fights winning three. She is currently in training to fight an extreme wrestler next week in a nightclub in a suburb of Philadelphia.
Cohen was later asked if she was going to restructure her program to take advantage of the new judging system which rewards jumps executed late in the routine. She made everyone laugh when she said she was aware of that and that, "You get even more marks if you stay on your feet."
1. (1. 1.) Kwan skated in a gold outfit to Maurice Ravel’s Bolero, choreographed by Christopher Dean. "After I finished skating, I was a little late (finishing with the music), and I made a mistake (doubling the second Lutz). I’ve got a lot of things to work on between now and Worlds. I’ll celebrate tonight. Then I’ll go back to the rink and work really hard. It’s the new Code of Points. I’ve got a lot to juggle with in the next few weeks. I have to work on new spins and new footwork."
Kwan began with a triple toe loop to double toe loop followed quickly by a triple Lutz to double toe, a triple flip and double Axel. After a layback she did a triple Salchow. Then came a flying camel in which she got onto a forward inside edge from the back outside, which is necessary to get a Level 2 in the new system. That was followed by the exceptional inside to outside spiral that has been her trade mark since before the 1998 Olympics. It is something the fans have come to expect and, as always, there was huge applause for it.
A combo spin was then presented and the unfortunate doubling of the Lutz. She pulled herself together to do the deathdrop and a very lively straight line footwork sequence. The crowd immediately erupted into a noisy, cheering complete standing ovation, which included the Cohen family. Her technical marks were three 5.7s, five 5.8s, and a 5.9. For presentation she got four 6.0s and the rest 5.9s. Two of those 6.0 were from judges Jessica Gaynor of San Francisco and Sharon Watson from Los Angeles who gave only 5.7 for the first set. The other 6.0s were given by Kitty DeLio from Denver and Karen Terry from New York City.
2. (2. 2.) Cohen, in pale pink, skated to Pytor Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Pas de Deux from the ballet, The Nutcracker, choreographed by Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband. "I was happy with fact that I was able to skate full out and push myself in both the warm-up and in the program and really open out but, of course, I was disappointed not to nail all the jumps like I’ve been doing in practice. It’s not in my overall plan not to skate perfectly."
Cohen skated faster and more powerfully than last year. The opening triple Lutz to double toe and triple flip to double toe was firm and secure. However, she put her hand down on a triple loop, a move Kwan did not attempt. She had all her incredible spirals and spins but she fell on a triple Lutz. Cohen was asked about the quad Salchow she was trying in the 2002 season. "I’ve actually done it. I can do it. I think at this point in my skating, I feel really comfortable with my jumping. I think this summer might be a good chance to start working on it again. I’ve definitely not given it up."
Comparing the two, both Kwan and Cohen had the same two triple combinations plus a triple toe and Salchow. Both messed up their second triple Lutz – Kwan doubling it and Cohen falling. However, Kwan did a second triple flip while Cohen did a flawed triple loop. They both do their wonderful spirals but Cohen’s spins are definitely superior. When it comes to Code of Points, Cohen will definitely have the advantage.
3. (4. 3.) Meissner skated to Ravel’s Daphnis & Chloe choreographed by Lori Nichol in blue with a deeper blue skirt. "I just started landing the triple Axel consistently four to a session," the youngster explained. "This morning my coach (Pam Gregory) and I both decided that it was a good place to try a triple Axel and good timing." Even before the practice session, her competitors were aware Meissner was going for it since she strapped on her hip protection pad. She did two gorgeous efforts in that session and also did one, without pads, in the warm-up. She said she would have still have tried the jump even if she had been eligible for senior Worlds instead of playing safe. Meissner said she was excited about being only the second American ever to land the triple Axel. "I thought about it, but I didn’t really think too much. Now that everyone is asking me questions, it’s really starting to sink in that I did it and it’s very exciting. I haven’t started working on quads."
Meissner began with a triple flip and a triple Lutz to triple toe. After a spiral sequence she soared into the triple Axel. But it wasn’t as good as her practice efforts. In the routine she had to untwist herself on the landing and her leg swung wide to control the momentum. Amazingly she was able to manage her adrenalin which must have soared from her joy at doing the jump and the audience’s spontaneous reaction. After a change foot sit spin she did a triple loop and Salchow, the stars to butterfly to back sit spin and a layback. A triple Lutz was done, then footwork and then an amazing triple flip to double toe to double loop and a final combo spin which stopped very near the judges where she looked straight at them with a satisfaction and an insouciant smile. What an impression to make in your debut! Two judges, Anne Cammett from Rush, NY, and Watson, put her above Cohen. All the others put her third. However, two, Jessica Gaynor of San Francisco, and Hal Marron of Phoenix, gave her only 5.4 for the second set.
[Based on review of the replay it is the editor's view that Meissner's triple axel was under-rotated and not successfully completed. Ed.]
4. (3. 4.) Kirk, in white with a very pale blue trim, skated to a Beatles Concerto featuring ‘Imagine’ choreographed by Lori Nichol. She began with the standard triple Lutz to very low double toe, a triple flip to double toe and double Axel. She is beautifully graceful on the ice. When she’s on, she’s superb. But then she fell on the triple loop and almost fell on the second triple flip. She fought to save it but, in an ugly struggle, had to put her other foot on the ice to keep from falling. She was able to land two other triples, flip and toe loop. There was a strange section in the middle of her routine in which she was almost stationary for quite a few seconds looking down and moving only a few feet. I presume it was supposed to indicate contemplation. That sort of thing may work in a theatre, but in a big arena, all those people sitting in the higher seats only saw the top of her head. For her exhibition, she was far better and more entertaining with her "Chicago" number. In addition to her seven fourth place votes, Kirk received two fifths (from Kitty DeLio from Denver and Patricia St. Peter from Minneapolis).
5. (5. 5.) Liang skated in black to Pezziola’s Black Earth Tango by Pizziola played by the Ahr Trophy, choreographed by Sara Kawahara. Although she aborted her triple Salchow, she skates with a soft knee and her program was most enjoyable. She had some unusual moves including an illusion exit to her first spin, a Charlotte spiral and a split jump to half loop to triple toe. In addition to the two fourths she took from Kirk, she gained six fifth places and a sixth from Marron.
6. (9. 6.) Hughes, dressed in light blue with silver trim, is a powerful young woman as she showed right from her first jump, a double Axel. Obviously she has received a lot of attention by the media mainly because she is Olympic champion Sarah’s younger sister. Up to this season she has not fulfilled her promise twice qualifying for nationals at junior level but not skating well in those events.
But, skating to Tchaikovsky’s music for the Sleeping Beauty ballet, on Saturday night she was great. Right from her opening double Axel, triple Lutz to double toe and triple flip, she was a sleek, powerful Mercedes, in top gear. She followed that with a flying camel with up-and-down ‘illusion rotations’, a triple loop, triple toe and a second triple Lutz. Her only error was on the one foot Axel which was supposed to be a combination but the triple Salchow was aborted. Fans waved a big sign, "Hughes Gotta Believe". She received seven votes of sixth place plus a fifth (from Marron) and a seventh (from Watson).
7. (8. 7.) Czisny looks like a ballerina, thin with long limbs, and she skates like one, with a flexible, delicate grace. Interpreting Tchaikovsky’s music for the ballet Swan Lake choreographed by Theresa McKendry, dressed in black, she began with a triple Lutz to double toe. A triple flip followed a flying camel spin. Then came a triple loop, death drop spin and a triple Salchow. She then presented her spiral sequence which was almost in the Cohen league. Then came disaster. She fell on a triple Lutz and then on a triple toe out of footwork. She redeemed herself with a great layback spin, straight line footwork and a double Axel. She finished with a change of foot combo spin that included a fast Biellmann and high kick positions. Czisny received seven sevenths, a sixth (from Watson) and a tenth (from Marron).
8. (7. 8.) Corwin, skating to selections from the movie, ‘Kismet’, which recycled music from Borodin’s opera, Prince Igor, choreographed by Cindy Stuart, was not able to match last year’s fourth place. But Corwin, who has no plans to retire even though, at 26, this is her 11th appearance in this event, said, "I have such a passion for figure skating. It is definitely a privilege and not a right. I believe you should follow your heart and your passion. Even beyond the Olympics I think I will continue. I feel each year I am growing as a skater and my passion is building as well and I’m in great shape." She said she felt the crowd’s cheers on Saturday night made the actual placement almost irrelevant. "The high points in my career are moments like what happened to me tonight. The public’s reception means a lot." She said she was very aware of the youngsters overtaking her. "It’s very exciting to be one of the veterans and watch these young girls come up.
Corwin started her routine with her usual combination of two triple toes but was not able to hold the landing of the second. She then did another combination, triple Lutz to double toe. But she doubled her planned triple loop. She did the triple Salchow and then a triple flip to double toe and a second triple Lutz. However, she singled her planned double Axel. She received five votes of eighth, two ninths, a tenth and an eleventh.
9. (6. 10.) Taylor, skating to Sergei Rachmaninoff’s ‘Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini’ choreographed by Jana Conter, in a black outfit with a purple trim, had a tough time probably trying too hard in her debut. The second half of the routine was much better as she settled down. She had a near fall on her first move, a triple loop, did circular footwork and then singled her triple Lutz which was meant to be a three jump combination. The following triple toe was landed on a very deep edge and she came to a standstill. She had a bad fall on her triple Salchow when her foot buckled under her. She did accomplish an outside spread to double Axel and a triple flip. Her last move was a triple Lutz. Her ordinals consisted of a seventh, an eighth, two ninths, three tenths and two elevenths.
10. (10. 9.) Williams-Stewart is another making her debut. She has a very nice knee action with pleasing flow over the ice and has great potential. Skating to music from the movie, "Out of Africa", she began with an unusual sit to broken leg spin. Her first jump, a triple Lutz, was landed with a very deep edge but the following triple loop to double toe was very nice. Then came a triple flip, a flying camel and straight line footwork. After a double Axel and a layback spin. The spiral sequence was next followed by a second triple Lutz, a double Axel but she fell on her triple Salchow which came out of an outside spread. Her ordinals were one eighth, five ninths, two tenths and an eleventh.
11. (12. 11) Kahle skated in a sophisticated sleeveless black outfit with a silver band around her chest. The music was the upbeat overture to a failed Broadway show "Mack and Mabel" made famous by the legendary ice dancers Torvill & Dean who used it in their 1982 season to claim their second world title. She began with a triple toe then put a hand down on a triple Lutz. Then came a combination spin followed by a triple Salchow to double toe and a double Axel. A sequence followed with a triple flip to triple toe but she put her hand down on the second jump. After a layback, she did a triple loop to double toe, a triple flip and a camel spin finishing slightly behind the music. She received two eighth, two tenth and five eleventh places.
12. (11. 12) Bugaeva skated immediately following Hughes and probably got over-excited from the emotion in the air, making a string of mistakes. Skating to music from the James Bond movies including "Goldfinger", "From Russia With Love" and the Bond Theme, choreographed by Natalia Efimova, Bugaeva began with a promising triple flip, falling leaf, triple toe combination. But then she fell on her next jump, a triple Lutz, singled a Salchow and aborted a loop. She made a mess of her triple flip. She had an interesting low move into a double Axel. She finished with a triple toe and a deathdrop. She received straight twelfth place votes except for Delio who punched in a 14th.
13. (13. 13.) Archambault, skating to Rimsky Korsakov’s Scheherazade choreographed by Tom Dickson and Catarina Lindgren, Archambault began with a triple Salchow to double toe, but she singled both attempts at a double Axel. She did a combination of two double toes, a double loop and a double flip. She did managed a triple Salchow and a triple toe loop. She gained one vote of 12th, seven votes of 13th plus one 16th.
14. (14, 14.) Rosenthal, skating to gypsy music, began with a triple toe to double toe but then landed a triple Lutz on two feet and turned out of her double toe which was combined with it. A double Salchow was followed later in the program by a double Salchow into a double toe was not impressive. She did accomplish a triple toe and her straight line footwork got the crowd clapping. She received one 13th, five votes of 14th, two 15th and a 17th.
15. (16. 15.) Lien, skating to "Nausica Suite" by Joe Hisaichi, doubled her first jump, a planned triple Lutz, and then fell on what was planned as a combination of two triple toes. She turned out of the landing of her triple Salchow and doubled her triple loop attempt. She executed a planned double flip, double Axel to double toe loop, and finished with a triple Salchow to double toe. She gained one 13th, two 14ths, three 15ths, a 16th, a 17th and an 18th.
16. (17. 16.) Mok skated first using the well known theme from the classic movie, "Gone With The Wind’ by Gliere & Carl Davis choreographed by Henrik Walenin. Her planned opening triple Lutz turned into a double to single toe loop. Then came a triple toe which had been planned as a combination and a triple loop. After her flying camel she doubled a second planed triple toe but managed to execute two double Axels. She was awarded one 14th, one 15th, six 16ths and a 17th.
17. (15, 18.) Hadford, skating to Vivaldi’s "Spring" and "Illumination" from the Secret Garden, she fell on her first jump, a triple loop. She stepped out of a triple Lutz and sequenced into a triple toe. After a flying sit spin into a back sit spin, she popped her triple flip and then did a single Salchow. After her layback and spiral sequence, she fell on her triple flip from a back spiral. She fell on her second triple Lutz but completed a double Axel, straight line footwork, a change foot camel and a combo spin. She received two votes of 17th and seven votes of 18th.
18. (18. 17.) Noji, skating to music from the movies "The Titanic" and "Legends of the Fall" choreographed by Russ Scott, Noji began with a triple Salchow to double toe but stepped out of her triple Lutz which she had planned to do with a double toe. She then did triple toe to double toe, a flying camel and a double Axel. After a layback she fell on her triple Lutz. Then came a change foot sit spin and Spirals into a triple toe on which she fell. She singled her second double Axel which was followed by footwork and a combo spin. She was awarded three 15ths, a 16th, four 17ths, and an 18th.
J1: Anne Cammett
J2: Carolyn Clausius
J3: Jessica Gaynor
J4: Deveny Deck
J5: Kitty DeLio
J6: Sharon Watson
J7: Karen Terry
J8: Patricia St. Peter
J9: Hal Marron
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