1999 World Championships



Place Skater Country QA QB SP FS
1 Maria Butyrskaya RUS 1 1 1
2 Michelle Kwan USA 1 4 2
3 Julia Soldatova RUS 3 2 4
4 Tatyana Malinina UZB 2 5 3
5 Vanessa Gusmeroli FRA 2 3 5
6 Anna Rechnio POL 5 6 7
7 Sarah Hughes USA 4 10 6
8 Elena Liashenko UKR 4 7 8
9 Yulia Lavrenchuk UKR 8 9 10
10 Viktoria Volchkova RUS 3 11 14
11 Diana Poth HUN 6 8 15
12 Angela Nikodinov USA 9 17 9
13 Lucinda Ruh SUI 9 12 12
14 Alisa Drei FIN 12 13 13
15 Julia Lautowa AUT 10 22 11
16 Silivia Fontana ITA 5 18 16
17 Yulia Vorobieva AZE 7 15 18
18 Jennifer Robinson CAN 8 14 20
19 Julia Sebestyen HUN 14 16 17
20 Fumie Sugurie JPN 6 20 21
21 Eva-Maria Fitze GER 7 19 22
22 Sabina Wojtala POL 11 23 19
23 Valeria Trifancova LAT 11 21 24
24 Caroline Guelke GER 13 24 13
25 Idora Hegel CRO 12 25
26 Marta Andrade SPN 10 27
27 Veronika Dytrtova CZE 14 26
28 Zuzana Paurova SVK 15 28
29 Olga Vassiljeva EST 13 30
30 Meijia Lu CHN 15 29


Notes on the Long Program

Michelle Kwan needed help to win the gold here but she didn't get it.  Maria Butyrskaya held off all challengers with a strong program with but one error.  She landed six triple and stepped out of a seventh in a triple Salchow - double toe loop combination.  Many had thought/hoped that Butyrskaya would let her nerves get the best of her as they often have in the past, but that did not happen today.  Although she looked nervous when she started - as she always does - she remained in control.   After the step out in the combination she improvised a second triple loop before her final jump, a double Axel.  She was unambiguously the best skater up until that point, and with Anna Rechnio the only skater other than Kwan left to skate it was clear that Kwan could not win the golf medal no matter how well she skated.  When Kwan entered the ice as the last skater to compete she was skating for the silver and her personal best.

Kwan started of conservatively and hesitantly.  She stepped out of the Lutz in her opening triple Lutz - double toe loop combination, did not attempt her triple-triple   combination, opting instead for triple toe loop - double toe loop, and after two successful triple popped a double Axel.  Following the Axel she started to fight back and landed three more triples for a total of six.  It was just good enough to take second place and the silver medal, though three judges placed her third and one judge placed her fourth.  From comments heard at the competition from the media, skaters and coaches it is widely thought that Michelle was not in top form this week as the result of avoiding serious competition for most of the season.  Kwan and her coach Frank Carroll strenuously deny that that is the case, and have also said that her minor cold this week was not responsible for her the problems in her performances.  Their explanation - which basically is that it was just one of those things - leaves a lot to be desired, however, and is unconvincing.  It appears that Kwan was not properly prepared for this competition having spent this season appearing in goof-ball competitions and underestimating her competition.

The bronze medal was won by Julia Soldatova in her first senior Worlds.  She landed six triples and fell on triple flip, her only error in the program.   Technically she was first rate but her presentation was a little flat, lacking the sophistication of a more experienced senior lady.  Being new to seniors that is to be expected and it was clear this week she has the potential to be a great skater.   Tatyana Malinina also gave a strong performance with five triples and now major errors.  Had she been just one place higher in the short program she would have just edged Soldatova out for the bronze medal.

Sarah Hughes skated well and moved up from ninth after the short program to seventh overall by placing sixth in the free skating.  She landed six triples and was thrilled with her performance.  Eligible for Worlds only by virtue of medaling at World Juniors she did herself proud and came away from Worlds making a good impression for the future.  Angela Nikodinov also moved up by placing ninth in the free skating to finish twelfth overall.  She skated a clean program for the first two thirds and then faltered.  She singled a triple toe loop and then tried it again after a step sequence instead of planned double Axel.  She stepped out of the second attempt.   Overall it was a respectable performance, but lacked energy and the competitive spirit needed to succeed at Worlds.  With a combined placement of nine from Kwan and Hughes the U.S. earned three spots for next year's Worlds.

Notes on the Short Program

As early as last December observers began to wonder what effect Michelle Kwan's decision to omit serious competition this season would have on her performance at Worlds.  The answer began to develop here in the short program.  After a winning but lackluster skate in a weak qualifying round group Kwan skated into a brick wall in the short program.  She fell on her double Axel and ended up in fourth place.  This result makes it impossible for her to win the gold medal simply by winning the long program.   Not only must she place first in the long program, another skater must also beat the leader after the short program, Maria Butyrskaya.  Had Kwan not fallen the result would still have been close, with Kwan beating Butryskaya with a margin of just one judge.  Also of concern to team Kwan must be the fact for six of the judges Butyrskaya's second mark - thought to be Kwan's main strength - were equal to or better than Kwan's.  Kwan's current predicament cannot be blamed on the minor cold she if fighting this week.  Kwan herself indicated the cold has not been an impediment.  After the short program she said, "My morning practice and warm-up was pretty right-on.  It has nothing to do with me being [sick] or anything.  I knew in [tonight's] warm-up that I was pretty off."

If Kwan was pretty off in the short program, Butyrskaya was pretty on.  She landed triple Lutz - double toe loop, triple loop, and double Axel all cleanly, and she skated with confidence.  Kwan fans are hoping now that Butyrskaya will fall apart in the long program as she has been known to do in the past, but that may grasping at straws.   Over the past 18 months Butyrskaya has skated with increasing consistency and it seems unlikely a lady other than Kwan will be able to beat Butyrskaya although Tatyana Malinina is viewed as an outside possibility.

In her first senior Worlds Julia Soldatova skated a strong clean program.  She landed triple Lutz - double toe loop, triple loop, and double Axel.  The medals won by Soldatova and Viktoria Volchkova at Europeans were dismissed by many as the result of competing in a weak filed of ladies, and there was some surprise when Russia did not name Irina Slutskaya and Elena Soldatova to their world team, but Soldatova proved she was worthy of  her European medal and the wisdom of sending her to Worlds.

Vanessa Gusmeroli made a comeback of sorts in the short program, placing third.   Gusmeroli won the bronze medal in 1997 and then in 1998 has a poor season.   This year she skated a clean short program with only one minor flaw.  She landed triple Lutz - double toe loop (with a reach on the Lutz), triple loop, and double Axel.

Angela Nikodinov placed 17th after doubling a triple flip.  It was an uninspired performance that clearly left the judges flat, with only two judges giving her decent second marks.  This is a very bad sign for her future.  Sarah Hughes, on the other hand, was far more impressive.  She landed triple Lutz - double toe loop, triple flip, and double Axel. It was a fine performance though a bit slow.  Except for the Austrian judge she received respectable marks for her first appearance at a senior international competition.  One has to wonder, however, what competition the Austrian judge as watching by placing her 20th, a deviation of ten places.  With Nikodinov's low standings the U.S. is now counting on Hughes to place high enough for the U.S. to earn three places at Worlds.  It is a reasonable possibility but by no means a sure thing.

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