2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships

St. Paul, Minnesota

20 - 27 January, 2008

Event Reports


Novice Ladies
Novice Men
Novice Pairs
Novice Dance


Junior Ladies
Junior Men
Junior Pairs
Junior Dance


Senior Ladies
Senior Men
Senior Pairs
Senior Dance

Daily Notes

For individual event reports follow the links at the left.

Competition Schedule

Sunday, 27 January

The Senior Men's final will be held this afternoon, followed by the Exhibition in the evening.  Johnny Weir has a slim lead going into the Free Skate, but the tea leaves indicate trouble ahead.  Lysacek would seem to have an advantage in a program with eight jump elements and all judges had him ahead of Weir on Program Components in the Short Program.  Also, Weir skates after Lysacek, a position he does not like.  But the ice is very slippery and it should prove to be an exciting competition since both men seem highly motivated to win.

Senior Ladies FS report is now up.
Senior Dance FD report is now up.

Attendance estimates:  Men's Free Skate 7000; Exhibition, 6500.

Saturday, 26 January

Three Senior finals today.  The Ladies are split, with the first ten in the morning and the last ten in the evening.  In between we have the Pairs Free Skate and the Dance Free Dance.  I bet it's been a long time since any of these Senior Ladies have had to compete at nine in the morning.

John and Rena Engaged at Center Ice

Senior Pairs FS report is now up.

Attendance estimates:  Ladies first half, 2500; Pairs, 3000; Dance, 6500; Ladies second half, 8000.

Friday, 25 January

OK.  So here is the full deal on Caroline Zhang's scoring last night, courtesy of the Chief Referee, Hal Marron.

Following her skate, Zhang's triple Lutz was reviewed for an edge call.  In the review it was decided to downgrade the jump.  Marks were authorized by the Technical Controller and the judges' chits were turned in.  Later in the event the technical accountant was directed to change the call to no-downgrade by the Technical Panel.  This was done without notifying the event referee (who it turns out is the Chief Referee).  Since this was a field of play decision, and the field of play had been closed with the authorizing of the marks, after the conclusion of the event the Chief Referee directed that the downgrade call be returned to the field of play decision at the time of the original call.

The Junior events finish today with the Pairs and Men's free skating.  In the evening the Senior Men begin with their Short Program

Junior Dance FD report is now up.
Senior Dance OD report is now up.
Junior Pairs SP report is now up.

Junior Pairs FS report is now up.
Junior Men FS report is now up.
Senior Men SP report is now up.

Estimated attendance today:  Junior Pairs, 500; Junior Men, 1200; Senior Men, 3500.

Thursday, 24 January

Another big day today with the Junior Dance event completing with the Free Dance.  Junior Pairs begins with the Short Program.  In the evening we have the Senior Dance Original Dance and the Senior Ladies Short Program.

Senior Dance CD report is now up.
Junior Men's SP report is now up.
Senior Pairs SP report is now up.
Senior Ladies SP report is now up.

Finally, something a wee bit juicy to report.

During the Senior Ladies Short Program the marks for Caroline Zhang changed after she skated.  At some time during the event, a few points (about 2) were added to her score, moving her ahead of Beatrisa Liang.  After the event there was a lengthy powwow among the officials after which the additional points disappeared.  At the time of writing this (midnight in St. Paul) there has been no official statement describing what transpired.  But from looking at the protocol, and the buzz in the press room, it would appear that on Zhang's triple Lutz, the jump was at first downgraded when she skated.  The downgrade was then removed for some reason during the event, but was later reinstated after the event.

We estimate an audience of about 500 for the Junior Free Dance in the morning.  That number grew to about 1500 in the afternoon.  For the Senior Ladies Free Skate we estimate an audience of 3500-4000.

Wednesday, 23 January

The Senior events begin today at 1:30 PM with the skating of the Compulsory Dance.  That will be followed by the Junior Men Short Program.  This evening the Senior Pairs compete in their Short Program.

Junior Dance CD report is now up.
Junior Dance OD report is now up.

Novice Pairs FS report is now up.

Yet another smoothly running day devoid of any scandalous tidbit to describe.  How frustrating!

The day began with about 700 spectators for the Senior CD.  That number swelled to perhaps 1000 for the Junior Men's Short Program -- which was a spectacular event.  In the evening we estimate about 2200 were on hand for the Senior Pairs SP.

Tuesday, 22 January

Today is sleep till noon day for those working the competition continuously since Sunday morning.  Most of the day is devoted to practice, with two events in the evening.  Starting at 5 PM the Junior Original Dance will be held, followed by the Junior Ladies Free Skate.

Junior Ladies FS report is now up.

About 400 were on hand at the start of the Junior Original Dance, this built slowly during the evening, and by the time of the Junior Ladies Free Skate, we estimate perhaps double that were in the audience.  Those that were present this evening were demonstrative, but overall there has been a noticeable lack of energy in the room the first three days of these Championships.  Last year in Spokane the secondary arena was jumping for most of the Novice and Junior events, with those rickety stands filled to capacity for many of the events.  Here ... noth'n.

Also adding to the lack of energy, it is though, is the counter-productive decision to have the practices closed to the public.  At the secondary practice arena only credentialed persons may enter, and at the big arena the place has been empty throughout the practice sessions.

Maybe things will pick up for the Senior events which start tomorrow.  We can only hope.

Monday, 21 January

Second of the two killer days today.  All four Novice ends finish with the free skating and free dance.  And for good measure, the Junior Dance Compulsory Dance will be held mid-day.

Also for good measure, we awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow.  I was told yesterday by a local that the cold builds character.  We will all be going home with far more character than we came with.

The morning and afternoon session looked to be attended by about 500.  Add to that a few classes of local school children, and the usual few hundred chaperones, officials and volunteers.  The evening session had about 400 on hand.

Novice Ladies FS report is now up.
Novice Men's FS report is now up.

Sunday, 20 January

Busy day today with the Novice short programs and compulsory dances, and the Junior Ladies Short Program.

The Novice events began today at 9:30 AM, with perhaps 100, mostly family and friends, on hand for the compulsory dances, Pairs Short Program and Ladies Short Program.  Then, following and early evening break, the Junior Ladies Short Program and Novice Men's Short Program when off with an audience of perhaps 500. 

Novice Dance report now up.
Novice Pairs report now up.
Novice Ladies report now up.
Junior Ladies report is now up.
Novice Men's report is now up.

Saturday, 19 January

Could it be any colder for this Nationals?  I think not.  It barely hit 0 F today, with the wind chill factor at -20 F!  Clear skies, though, but snow is expected mid-week.  Well, at least the media hotel is just across the street for once.  Not much time is going to be spent outside this week!

Most of the Novice and Junior skaters have already gotten into town, with competition in both divisions beginning on Sunday.  The competition schedule this year is novel.  All events in all divisions will be held in the Xcel center.  There is no secondary competition arena.  This has resulted in the skaters having fewer practice session in the main arena, but with the advantage that everyone gets to skate under the big lights.  Senior events begin Wednesday, so the big kids are still straggling into town.

While some days will be fairly busy, with five event segments on Sunday and Monday, overall the schedule doesn't start excessively early or end excessively late.  In fact, except for one day, people will be out of the arena by 10:30 PM, and with the hotels close by it is a pretty user friendly schedule.

For the first time, there will be competition on the closing Sunday, and the exhibition will be that evening.  The Men's Free Skate was scheduled to accommodate TV for a live broadcast Sunday afternoon.  But in the last two weeks NBC pulled the rug out form under that and the free skate will be broadcast in the evening, tape delayed.

The worst aspect of the schedule is the splitting of the Ladies Free Skate into tow sections, one beginning at 8:45 AM Saturday morning, and the other (last 10 skaters) at 8:10 PM.  The reason for this is to give TV a live telecast block that starts with the Dance final and then runs straight into the Ladies final.  That means the first group of ladies have get pushed somewhere else, which in this case will be twelve hours earlier in the day.  The ISU took this approach to breaking up events in last season's championships and the quality of the scoring was less than satisfactory.  It will be interesting to see if U.S. judges do any better with this method of scheduling an event.

Emily Hughes withdrew last week, which will open up the Ladies event considerably.  How well newcomers Caroline Zhang and Mirai Nagusa will do this week is the big mystery on most peoples minds.  The Men's event looks to be the most hotly congested event with a retooled Johnny Weir and current champion Evan Lysacek the main focus.  Pairs is another wide open event with no clear favorite for the gold.  Much to people's surprise Rena Inoue & John Baldwin are back.  Meanwhile, Themi Leftheris & Naomi Nari Lang have reportedly been struggling since coming back from Nam's surgery last fall.  Finally, in dance Melissa Gregory & Denis Pethukov are not competing, which may prove to be the kiss of death for their competitive careers.  Tanith Belbin & Benjamin are pretty much a sure thing for the gold, and it is expected they will be followed by Meryl Davis & Charlie White.  Everyone after that gets to fight for third place.

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