Skate America

Ladies Event

Place Skater Country SP FS
1 Michelle Kwan USA 1 1
2 Sarah Hughes USA 2 2
3 Viktoria Volchkova RUS 3 3
4 Shizuka Arakawa JPN 6 4
5 Sasha Cohen USA 4 5
6 Julia Sebestyen HUN 5 6
7 Jennifer Robinson CAN 7 7
8 Mikkeline Kierkgaard DEN 8 9
9 Utako Wakamatsu JPN 11 8
10 Elena Sokolova RUS 9 10
11 Vanessa Giunchi ITA 10 11


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Julia Sebestyen
  2. Sarah Hughes
  3. Michelle Kwan
  4. Shizuka Arakawa
  5. Elena Sokolova
  6. Vanessa Giunchi
  7. Viktoria Volchkova
  8. Sasha Cohen
  9. Mikkeline Kierkgaard
  10. Utako Wakamatsu
  11. Jennifer Robinson


Short Program Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Michelle Kwan USA
2 Sarah Hughes USA
3 Viktoria Volchkova RUS
4 Sasha Cohen USA
5 Julia Sebestyen HUN
6 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
7 Jennifer Robinson CN
8 Mikkeline Kierkgaard DEN
9 Elena Sokolova RUS
10 Vanessa Giunchi ITA
11 Utako Wakamatsu JPN

The ladies event while not lacking in talented skaters proved disappointing in the short program, with few clean programs turned in.

Michelle Kwan has revived an old standby, East of Eden, as her short program routine this season.  Despite a less than spirited performance and one major error, she was awarded first place marks by four of the seven judges, with two judges placing her second an one placing her third.  She landed double Axel and a small but clean triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, but singled a triple flip out of footwork and her deathdrop lacked its typical strength.  Overall, the program started off close to lifeless, but once she got past the first four elements in the program, which are the most difficult, her performance picked up substantially.  Her best elements were the circular footwork sequence, the required spins, and her signature serpentine spiral sequence.  Her father, Danny, was at the boards during her warmup and performance, but he did not actively coach her during the event and was there only for moral support.  This has been true for all the practices thusfar this week.

Second place was taken by Sarah Hughes who was placed first by three of the seven judges.  She gave a good performance, skating to Ave Maria, but also had a significant error in the program, singling the second jump in her intended triple Lutz-double toe loop combination.  In addition to the fist place marks she received, she was placed second by one of the judges and third by the remaining three.

Viktoria Volchkova, who has placed sixth at Worlds the past two seasons, gave a respectable performance to a modern version of the Moonlight Sonata.   Her's was one of the few clean programs from the 11 ladies, with only a reach for the ice on triple Lutz to mar the performance.  Offsetting that weakness, she landed one of the best triple flips of the competition.  She received some fairly strong first marks for technical merit, but was held back by her presentation marks that have yet to reach a level that will make her competitive for a medal at the World or Olympic Level.   For the level of this competition, however, she is in a good position to medal here and break up a potential U.S. sweep of the ladies event.

Trailing just behind Volchkova in fourth place was Sasha Cohen.   Cohen opened with a marginal triple Lutz and then cheated and two footed the following double toe loop.  She followed with a nice triple flip.  Her best elements, however, were the spins.  She  executed a nice deathdrop which ended with a sideways variation in position and closed with a combination spin with a well executed forward split position.  In her serpentine spiral sequence she included an excellent Charlotte position and also show great flexibility in her layback spin.   She has planned a very difficulty long program but in order to move up into the medals she will have to land her jumps cleanly.  She has been working on quad Salchow and may attempt it in the long program on Saturday.

Elena Sokolava, who in past appearances at Skate America has fared quite well gave an uninspired and lifeless performance with two falls on her jumps.   She was slow and looked unprepared for the event.  She is here without her coach, as is her teammate Ilia Klimkin in the men's event.

Leaders after the Short Program

michelle kwan sk8usa2001.jpg (18719 bytes) sarah hughes sk8usa2001.jpg (16866 bytes)
Michelle Kwan Sarah Hughes
viktoria volchkova sk8usa2001.jpg (16422 bytes) sasha cohen ska8usa2001.jpg (18647 bytes)
Viktoria Volchkova Sasha Cohen


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Mikkeline KIerkgaard
  2. Vanessa Giunchi
  3. Jennifer Robinson
  4. Utako Wakamatsu
  5. Elena Sokolova
  6. Julia Sebestyen
  7. Shizuka Arakawa
  8. Sasha Cohen
  9. Michelle Kwan
  10. Viktoria Volchkova
  11. Sarah Hughes


Free Skating Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Michelle Kwan USA
2 Sarah Hughes USA
3 Viktoria Volchkova RUS
4 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
5 Sasha Cohen USA
6 Julia Sebestyen HUN
7 Jennifer Robinson CN
8 Utako Wakamatsu JPN
9 Mikkeline Kierkgaard DEN
10 Elena Sokolova RUS
11 Vanessa Giunchi ITA

michelle and sarah sk8usa2001.jpg (31116 bytes)

The ladies free skating was a two-horse race with Michelle Kwan and Sarah Hughes well ahead of the rest of the pack.  Both skaters landed six triple jumps and both received respectable presentation marks of 5.6 through 5.8.

In addition to the six triples she landed, Kwan two footed one other.  Her triple toe loop - triple toe loop combination had been working all week in practice, but in opening her program with it, she doubled the second jump.  A planned double Axel a third of the way through the program was singled and a triple loop at mid-program was two footed.  Near the end of the program she improvised a solo triple toe loop to bring her triple count up to six.  Her program, set to Scheherazade, was fairly well executed through the first two-thirds,but became a little mechanical and sluggish towards the end.  Nonetheless, despite its few rough spots it has the potential to be a great program and in terms of polish is well ahead of where her long program was last season at this time.  Whether she will be able to apply the needed polish in the next 10 weeks without a coach is another question.  The answer to that question will have to wait until January at the U.S. National Championships in Los Angeles.

Sarah Hughes, who drew last in the start order, skated a cleaner looking program than Kwan, though not without some errors.  She opened with a double Axel and then landed a triple Salchow - triple loop combination.  The loop may have been a hair cheated, but it was a fine effort and the best we have seen from her in competition.   She also landed a triple Lutz - double toe loop combination, plus three more solo triple jumps and a closing double Axel.  Her program, skated to Daphnis and Chloe and Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2,  was very well done.  Four of the seven judges placed her equal to or above Kwan in the second mark and two placed her first over Kwan.  Her overall placement below Kwan was somewhat controversial with many asserting she had been robbed again as she was last year.  Certainly a case can be made for Hughes.  Her program had fewer obvious errors and she landed more doubles and triples than Kwan.  Her program was very well skated and the presentation was the equal if not superior to Kwan's.  On the other hand, Hughes' jumps are sometimes still a hair cheated and her flutz is far too obvious; and when it comes to cleanness of edge and the basic quality of skating, Kwan was clearly the best skater here in both the short and long program.  Thus, fans of both skaters have fodder for their arguments.

Third in the long program and third overall was Viktoria Volchkovia whose program was in many respects a mess, but less of a mess than everybody else placed below her.   She landed four triples, but doubled two others and singled a double Axel.   Her program, skated to Tara's Theme from GWTW, was decently executed given all the errors committed, but was mechanical and consisted of largely of straight line sequences skated up and down the long axis of the rink.

Sasha Cohen challenged history by attempting a quad Salchow and shot herself in the foot in the process.  On her opening attempt at it she popped the jump and then was shaken for the first third of the program.  She fell on the next two combinations she attempted, and only  by the middle of the program was she back in control.  In the end she landed only two triples.  It looked like a classic case of a skater becoming so obsessed with one trick that they let it take control of the program.   Once she got back on track the program was well skated but it was too late.   The strongest aspects of the program were her spins and connecting moves in which she again displayed her remarkable flexibility.

Overtaking Cohen to place fourth was Shizuka Arakawa of Japan.  Skating to the concert suite from Turandot she gave an outstanding performance.  She landed six triples, though not with the finesse of Kwan and Hughes, and attempted a triple Salchow - triple toe loop combination in which the loop was badly cheated.  Utako Wakamatsu of Japan also deserves an honorable mention.  She landed only three triples but skated a program (Turandot again!) with lovely positions and flow.

Elena Sokolova who struggled in the short program had even more difficulty in the long.  She singled or doubled most of her jumps and landed only two triples, a Salshow and a toe loop.  She looked lost and dispirited through the entire performance.  This was not unexpected as her practices for the past two days had not gone any better.



2001 Skate America Ladies Medalists

ladies sk8usa2001.jpg (61674 bytes)


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