1996 Skate America

Springfield, MA

31 Oct - 3 Nov 1996

Misc. Notes

ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta spoke today on developments within the ISU. Most of the items he spoke of related to rules changes and new events that have been previously reported on. He also spoke about the ISU's plan to try giving the judges instant replay while judging the short program (we reported on this program in our coverage of the USFSA Governing Council this spring where he also spoke about this project). He gave a brief description of how this might work and said that a test of the idea may be made within the next year.

While the technical details of how this would work were intriguing, the more remarkable part of his remarks was the outright acknowledgement that there are problems in the consistancy and accuracy of the judging which the ISU must address. How or whether this ever comes to be remains to be see. There are a great many technical details to be worked out, and politcal issues to be resolved. One telling comment came when an attempt was made to pin him down on when we will see this at a competition. His reply, "First we must convince the judges."


Skater SP FS Final
Michelle Kwan, USA 1 1 1
Tonia Kwiatkowski, USA 2 2 2
Sydne Vogel, USA 3 3 3
Julia Lautowa, AUT 5 4 4
Hanae Yokoya, JPN 4 6 5
Jelena Sokolova, RUS 9 5 6
Vanessa Gusmeroli, FRA 8 7 7
Lenka Kulovana, CZE 6 9 8
Zuzanna Szwed, POL 10 8 9
Maria Butyrskaya, RUS 7 10 10
Fanny Cagnard, FRA 12 11 11
Jennifer Robinson, CAN 11 12 12


2 Nov 96:

Skate America ended with a solid sweep of the ladies' event by the US. Michelle Kwan gave a strong performance in the free skate, looking much more secure than she did in the short. She landed 6 triples, and her only significant error was the popping of a triple loop. Her new long program follows in the steps of last year's with a similar exotic, eastern flavor. She received 5.7's and 8's for the first mark and 5.8's and 9's for the second. The program still needs speed and polish, but for this point in the season it was a fine accomplishment.

Kwiatkowski also had a new program, skating to List's Hungarian Rhapsody. It is one of her typical fast, athletic program with three clean triples, a crash on triple Salchow, and a hand down on triple flip.

Completing the sweep was Vogel, who landed four triples, two in combination. Most of the program was fairly stong, but she was clearly tiring in the last minute, her spins were a tad slow, and her line in the slow sections needs work. Nevertheless, considering where she was a year ago, she has shown noteworthy improvement and is well prepared for Junior Worlds which begin next month.

Maria Butyrskaya, who had a difficult short, self destructed in the long. She had been struggling all week, and we give her credit for trying everything in her program, even though she crashed and burned for most of it.

A surprise performance was given by Jelena Sokolova who placed fifth in the long after a ninth place finish in the short. She is quite the pixie, with a passing resemblance to Stephanie Stiegler. Whether this was a fluke performance or the indication of better things to come, time wil tell.

1 Nov 96:

Despite a sub-par perfromance, Kwan was in control of today's program. She landed her triple Lutz - double toe, and triple toe cleanly, but her jumps were not particulary strong and the combination had little flow out of the jumps. Her other elements were well done, and the program includes a gorgeous spiral sequence. Reportedly she is battling a sore foot and boot problems. This is a sophisticated, intricate program with great potential, but it is not quite there yet.

Kwiatkowski skated a clean program with triple FLutz - double toe and triple toe. It was skated fast and strong, and without the frantic edge that many of her programs possess.

Completeing a USA sweep in the Short program, Vogel ended up third with a clean, enthusiatic performance. Her landing edges in the triple Lutz - double toe combination were weak but good enough to avoid deductions, while her triple flip was well done.

Although of lesser difficulty, a fine performance was also given by Yokoya who used triple toe - double toe, and triple Salchow to take fourth place. Butyrskaya had a difficult night. She attempted a difficult double flip - triple toe, but fell on the second jump. She stepped out of triple loop, and her double axel was shakey.


Skater SP FS Final
Todd Eldredge, USA 1 1 1
Alexei Urmanov, RUS 2 2 2
Alexei Yagudin, RUS 6 3 3
Viacheslav Zagorodniuk, UKR 4 4 4
Eric Millot, FRA 5 5 5
Takeshi Honda, JPN 3 6 6
Sott Davis, USA 8 7 7
Cornel Gheorghe, ROM 10 8 8
Dan Hollander, USA 7 10 9
Michael Hopfes, GER 12 9 10
Stanick Jeannette, FRA 9 11 11
Jeffrey Langdon, CAN 11 12 12


2 Nov 96:

Who is ready for this season? Todd is ready, winning the free skate, and the event, with one 5.8 and eight 5.9's in each mark. He landed eigth triples, including triple Axel - triple toe, triple Lutz - double toe, and triple loop - step - triple toe. His spins had excellent form and speed, and his two triple Axels were huge and effortless looking.

Urmanov was a strong second, landing all the triples as well, and with excellent spins, speed and form. His triple Axels were also huge and strong. The main distinction between his performance and Eldredge's was the lack of any triple-triple combinations compared to Todd's two. Currently he looks to be Eldredge's main competition this season.

Yagudin move up to third with strong jumps in a slow, cautious performance of music from Carmen. He landed triple Axel - triple toe, a second triple Axel, and two other triple jumps, but he also popped one triple and stepped out of two others. He took third less on the strength of his performance than on the weaknesses of the other men.

Honda dropped out of the medals with a sixth place finish today. Skating to "Swing Kids", he had some good jumps, including one triple axel, but he also stepped out of a triple flip and a second triple Axel. His spins were merely adequate; and his connecting moves were inconsistant, totally lacking in many places, good in others.

Davis moved up to seventh with a fast, but insipid and tedious program. He landed triple toe, flip, and loop, and a triple Axel which did not count because he fell on his first attempt and did not include the second (successful) attempt in a combination. Despite his change in coaching we fail to seen any improvement in style, presentation or technique. He remains a fast skater with great spins and inconsistant jumps.

Hollander dropped to ninth with a difficult skate. He led off the competition, and had problems with his jumps from start to end. He skated with speed and flair, with good spins and step sequences, but without his jumps working he was doomed. It was just one of those days for him.

1 Nov 96:

Eldredge slaughtered the competition with a clean solid jazz routine including triple axel - triple toe and triple Lutz, one of only two clean programs of the night. Urmanov put a quick foot down on triple axel - triple toe and had one moderate stumble in a circular step sequece. Despite these errors his speed and strength kept him in second place. The second clean program of the night was delivered by Honda who also landed triple axel - triple toe, and triple Lutz. It was a fast, energetic program, if a little wild in terms of control, giving him third place in the short.

Hollander skated well, but a fall on triple axel in his combination jump left him in seventh place. Davis popped his combination into a single axel, and otherwise skated his typical (superficial) program. His triple Lutz was strong, as were his spins, but they were not enough to put him higher than eighth.


Skater SP FS Final
Kazakova/Dmitriev, RUS 2 1 1
Lyons/Wells, USA 1 2 2
Stiegler/Zimmerman, USA 4 3 3
Khalturina/Krukov, KZK 3 4 4
Dimitrov/Rex, GER 5 5 5
Ward/Travis, USA 7 6 6
Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon/Bradet, CAN 6 7 7


2 Nov 96:

The free skate was a hodge-podge of styles and mistakes that made comparing the team difficult.

Kazakova and Dmitriev skated a stronger program than expected with strong pair elements but several problems in the singles elements. In triple toes, Kazakova doubled the jump, and in double axels she singled it, while in one of the new pivot elements she slipped out of position in the transition into the move. Still, their lifts and other spin elements were enough for them to pull ahead of Lyons and Wells who made numerous errors in their program. Dmitriev showed greater stamina than in the Short Program, but still was running out of gas at about 3:30 into the program.

Lyons and Wells had the opportunity and the program to win the event, but had a difficult skate today. In triple twist Lyons bounced of Wells' shoulder and in throw triple loop she put her hand down. Their greatest problems, however, were in the jumps where Lyons put her hand down on triple loop, and again on triple Salchow, and with Wells falling on the triple Salchow. Their spins were of decent quality and the program was skated with good speed. For their pivot move they included a modified death spiral with Wells in spread eagle position and Lyons in death spiral position. With further work this will be an extremely competitive program for making the US World Team.

Stiegler and Zimmerman moved up to third with the best performance of the day, though not the most difficult. Their interpretation of the Socerer's Apprentice was outstanding. The main weakness of the routine is its limited difficulty. The program included a marginal triple twist and two overhead lifts of only moderate difficulty. Their jumps included double flips, single Axels, and double toes, and they made one minor error in one pair spin combination. On the plus side, they had some of the best throws of the group with throw triple Salchow and throw triple toe loop. The team showed themselves to be outstanding performers not only in the presentation of their program, but in dealing with a problem with the music in the last 15 seconds of the program. At that point the music went quit and they hit a pose. Most everyone reacted to this as the end of the program, with the audience beginning a rousing standing ovation. The music people stopped the tape, and the judges stopped watching. The team continued to finish the program without music while the audience cheered. After they left the ice the referee called them back and they were asked to reskate the last section so the judges could see it, which they did with composure. This is a wonderfull program, but without someone falling down ahead of them, probably not difficult enough for them to move up this year.

Ward and Travis moved up one place to end in sixth with a program which wasn't even Junior medal quality. They skated to Carmen with some nice moves and spins, but made numerous errors throughout the program. Their lifts were weak, Ward fell on throw triple loop (landing throw triple Salchow), Travis cheated triple Salchow while Ward doubled it, and they stumled through their jump combination. This team has its work cut out for it between now and Nationals.

1 Nov 96:

The placement of Stiegler and Zimmerman in the Short Program was confusing to many observers who though their marks seemed low. Today we learned that because their music was a few seconds over (6 seconds by some accounts, 2 by others) their closing death spiral was marked as not skated. The element began before the end of the 2 minute 40 second time limit but ran over. According to a new rule passed by the ISU, elements skated after the time limit are not to be marked by the judges. They also received a deduction for exceeding the time limit.

31 Oct 96:

Overall this was a pretty sorry group for the Short Program. Lyons and Wells were clearly the class of the group with a lively solid program with strong triple Salchows, and a decent double twist.

Kazakova and Dmitriev got a gift in being placed second. They both stepped out of triple Salchow, and in the lift Dmitriev brought Kazakova down to his shoulder first. Dmitriev clearly needs to loose 20-30 pounds and work on his conditioning, looking bloated in general, and sucking wind by the end of the program.

Khalturina and Krukov skated with good basic technique, but were slow and boring, with Krukov putting his hand down on triple Salchow.

Stiegler and Zimmerman skated their "weird tango" short program from last year. The routine was fairly well presented but was not as strong as when they performed it at last year's nationals. They landed decent double axels, and had a tolerable double twist, but were losing speed by the end of the program. Ward and Travis skated a cautious, slow program with Ward two footing, then falling, on triple Salchow. They were completely outgunned in a weak group and should be worrying now about the rest of the season if they have any sense.


Skater CD OD FD Final
Krylova/Ovsianikov, RUS 1 1 1 1
Lobatcheva/Averbukh, RUS 2 2 2 2
Moniotte/Lavanchy, FRA 3 3 3 3
Punsalan/Swallow, USA 5 5 4 4
Romanova/Yaroshenko, UKR 4 4 5 5
Winkler/Lohse, GER 6 6 6 6
Mrazova/Simecek, CZE 7 7 7 7
Wing/Lowe, CAN 9 8 8 8
Robinson/Breen, USA 12 9 9 9
Piton/Piton, FRA 10 11 10 10
Webster/Kravette, USA 11 10 11 11
Stekolnikova/Kazarlyga, KZK 8      


2 Nov 96:

A miracle occurred here. Two pairs of couples swapped places in the final results.

Krylova and Ovsiannikov took the gold in a typical Russian program to typical Russian music, with lots of slithering around each other.

Lobatcheva and Averbukh held second with a very jazzy number of very 30's music.

Moniotte and Lavanchy did a fast lively program of gypsy tunes, that was entertaining, but bordered on parody at times. They had lots of seperations and side-by-side skating, which held them down.

Romanova and Yaroshenko skated well to a jazzy version of Bach's "Aire on a G String", but their dance was neither jazzy or classical. This premitted Punsalan and Swallow to move ahead of them with a fun, lively dance of latin rhythms. Latin rhythms suite them well and they present dances of that type very well.

We would love to tell you how Webster and Kravette, and Robinson anf Breen skated, but we were asleep at the switch and missed the first warm up.

1 Nov 96:

Dance results after the OD (the Tango) for the top skaters was pretty predictable, while a few changes were seen in the bottom third. Krylova and Ovsiannikov skated a "greasy" tango that was smooth and fast. With about 15 seconds to go Krylova appeared to catch a toe and did a face plant, but barely missing a beat Ovsiannikov yanked her up like a rag doll and the dance continued with little interruption. (Later, Ovsiannikov 'fessed up to being responsible, having tripped her.) Lobacheva and Averbukh did a "languid" tango which was smooth and fluid, but a tad slow. Moniotte and Lavanchy did a "dignified" tango that was precise and included great edges, but was fairly conservative.

Robinson and Breen pulled up to ninth with a reasonble attempt at a "sleazy" tango, a la R&K, but not nearly in their league. Their dancing was not very close, and even so their legs still seemed to be getting in each other's way throughout the dance. Webster and Kravette also pulled up, in their case to tenth.

Stekolnikova and Kazarlyga pulled from the competition due Kazarlyga bruising his left knee during practice today.

31 Oct 96:

The Compulsory Dance was the Golden Waltz; and with only one CD skated it accounts or 20% of the final placements. The three top couples all skated with speed and control. We found the performance of Moniotte and Lavanchy particularly entertaining (especially through a 300 mm lens) with significantly more of Moniotte's anatomy exposed through most of the dance than the dress designer intended.

Of the three American couples, only Punsalan and Swallow were in the same league as the top couples. Robinson and Breen skated with decent speed but appeared on the wild side, and half way through the second pattern it got the best of Breen who caught an edge and went down. Webster and Kravette, who led off the event looked slow and awkward, and were it not for Breen's fall would probably have ended up last.


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