Michelle Kwan handily won this, the more difficult of the two qualifying groups. She skated cleanly and with enthusiasm, landing six triple jumps. She received first marks in the range 5.7-5.8 and nine marks of 5.9 for the second mark, for the only standing ovation of the day. Her skate was subject to the same strange drama as Todd's, in which the skater preceding her in the group did not appear when her name was called and the two minute clock was run. After the required interval, Kaja Hanevold was announced as withdrawn due to equipment failure. Kwan's skate was not quite at the level of Nationals, but far and away superior to her effort at the Olympics. With a similar performance later in the week she should win the ladies title easily.
Irina Slutskaya had her best skate of the year, thusfar. She landed four triples, but put a hand down on triple loop, and on her opening triple Lutz - double toe did not have enough room after the Lutz and brushed the wall missing the toe loop but not falling. Despite those errors, she otherwise skated very well, and her signature spins were excellent. She has a good shot at a medal here.
In her first World, Elena Sokolova made a good start, but did not skate up to her full potential. She attempted six triples landing four, including an opening triple Lutz - triple toe loop, one of only two triple-triples from the ladies today. She two-footed a solo triple Lutz, stepped out of a triple Salchow, and doubled her triple flip. Despite these problems, she skated with speed and personality, and also has a shot at a medal here.
Laetitia Huber, who had high hopes for this season, and beat Tara Lipinski at Trophy Lalique, had a poor skate, landing only one triple. She is going to be totally out of it here and will have to fight to make the top 10.
Angela Derochie also had a terrible skate and has little chance to be in the top 10. Looks like only one ladies' spot for Canada again next year.
A nice performance was turned in by Joanne Carter who landed a triple loop - triple loop. Only the second lady to land that jump in international competition.
The level of skating was well below that in Group A. The top four ladies in the group did well, but after that it deteriorated quickly.
Maria Butyrskaya attempted six triples, landing five and stepping out of a triple Salchow. She received marks in the range 5.6-5.8 and set herself up as the favorite for the silver medal. Nevertheless, we expect Slutskaya and Sokolova will give her a good run for her money.
An expectedly strong performance was given by Anna Rechnio of Poland, who placed only 19th at the recent Olympic Games. She had complete command of all the triple jumps through triple Lutz, landing a total of six triples.
Elena Liashenko attempted four triples, landing three - Lutz, flip, and Salchow in combination with double toe loop. On a solo triple Salchow she put her hand down and she singled a triple loop.
Great things were expected of Tanja Szewczenko, but she did not produce. She landed only three triples and missed two others. In addition, her spins were, to be kind, undistinguished. She will have to bring her skating upa notch if she hopes to get close to the top five this week.
Another disappointing performance was given by Vanessa Gusleroli. She managed only triple loop and triple Salchow, and singled or made other errors on four other triples.
The U.S. finished one-two with a strong performance from Todd Eldredge and an adequate job from Michael Weiss.
Skating in the last of four groups, Eldredge entered the ice one skater early, and then was chased off in order to give the Armenian skater Armen Asoyen a chance to show up. His name was called, but no Armen. The two minute clock was started and after the time was up, he was history. Eldredge then came onto the ice again for his long program.
Eldredge skated a strong clean program, using his "First Knight" long program from the 1996. His most difficult element was triple Axel - triple toe loop, receiving marks of 5.5 through 5.9 and one of two standing ovations for the days events. He also landed the second triple Axel that has bedeviled him the past two years without difficulty. Afterwards he said, "I wish I had done this three and a half weeks ago. I just wanted to skate well. The crowd was great; they were fantastic. ... I don't feel so much pressure about competing here after the Olympics, but it was difficult after I got home to motivate myself to train after such a disappointment. But the last week was fine and I'm looking forward to getting out there Wednesday and Thursday."
Weiss skated a mostly clean program. He opened with another attempt at quad Lutz, but it wasn't even close. The rest of the program was clean except for a minor toe drag on a triple loop late in the program.
Third was Ziacheslav Zagorodniuk who skated a lifeless, conservative program. He landed two triple Axels, but the second one was fairly poor quality, and near the end of the program he popped a triple flip.
Evgeni Plushenko, a late substitution for Ilia Kulik, skated the second strongest program of the day. He attempted a quad toe loop but it was ruled two footed on the replay. He landed a total of eight triples including triple Axel - triple toe loop and triple Lutz - triple toe loop. He gave a no- holds-bared performance and got the second standing ovation of the day for his effort. Afterwards he said, "This was quite a good performance, but now I feel exhausted." He has a good shot at a medal at this his first World Championships.
Second was Alexei Yagudin who was edged out by his teammate Pushenko. He also landed eight triples including triple Axel - triple toe loop, and triple flip - triple toe loop. His presentation was strong but he was outclassed by Plushenko.
Placing third was the dynamic Takeshi Honda. Honda was the only skater of the day to successfully land a quad jump, a quad toe loop. Despite that he had a few problems. He stepped out of a triple Axel twice, and also a triple flip. Four other triples were completed successfully.
Return to Title Page