2003 World Championships


by Lynn Rutherford

Place Skater NOC QA QB SP FS
1 Michelle Kwan  USA 1 1 1
2 Elena Sokolova  RUS 2 2 2
3 Fumie Suguri  JPN 1 3 4
4 Sasha Cohen USA 3 5 3
5 Viktoria Volchkova  RUS 3 5 5
6 Sarah Hughes  USA 6 8 6
7 Elena Liashenko  UKR 5 7 8
8 Shizuka Arakawa JPN 4 11 7
9 Jennifer Robinson  CAN 2 9 9
10 Carolina Kostner  ITA 9 4 11
11 Yoshie Onda  JPN 4 12 15
12 Alisa Drei  FIN 8 18 10
13 Ludmila Nelidina  RUS 5 15 13
14 Julia Sebestyen  HUN 10 10 14
15 Julia Lautowa  AUT 12 17 12
16 Galina Maniachenko  UKR 7 14 16
17 Joanne Rochette  CAN 9 16 19
18 Dan Fang  CHN 7 13 22
19 Sarah Meier  SUI 13 20 18
20 Mojca Kopac  SLO 13 22 17
21 Jenna McCorkell GBR 11 19 20
22 Anne Sophie Calvez  FRA 6 21 21
23 Anastasia Gimazetdinova  UZB 8 23 24
24 Idora Hegel  CRO 10 27 23
25 Sara Falotico  BEL 15 24
26 Miriam Manzano  AUS 14 25
27 Olga Vassiljeva  EST 15 26
28 Vanessa Giunchi  ITA 12 28
29 Johanna Goetesson  SWE 11 29
30 Tugba Karademir TUR 14 30
31 Tamara Dorofejev HUN 16
31 Daria Timishenko AZE 16
33 Zuzana Babiakova SVK 17
33 Gintare Vostrecovaite LTU 17
35 Lucie Krausova CZE 18
35 Georgina Papavasiliou GRE 18
37 Diana Y. Chen TPE 19
37 Roxana Luca ROM 19
39 Ana Cecilia Cantu MEX 20
39 Hristina Vassileva BUL 20
41 Hae-Lyeum Cho KOR 21
41 Shirene Human RSA 21


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Miriam Manzano  AUS
  2. Sarah Meier  SUI
  3. Olga Vassiljeva  EST
  4. Tugba Karademir TUR
  5. Mojca Kopac  SLO
  6. Sara Falotico  BEL
  7. Vanessa Giunchi  ITA
  8. Idora Hegel  CRO
  9. Jenna McCorkell GBR
  10. Julia Lautowa  AUT
  11. Johanna Goetesson  SWE
  12. Julia Sebestyen  HUN
  13. Carolina Kostner  ITA
  14. Dan Fang  CHN
  15. Anastasia Gimazetdinova  UZB
  16. Galina Maniachenko  UKR
  17. Alisa Drei  FIN
  18. Joanne Rochette  CAN
  19. Anne Sophie Calvez  FRA
  20. Ludmila Nelidina  RUS
  21. Shizuka Arakawa JPN
  22. Sarah Hughes  USA
  23. Yoshie Onda  JPN
  24. Elena Liashenko  UKR
  25. Viktoria Volchkova  RUS
  26. Sasha Cohen USA
  27. Fumie Suguri  JPN
  28. Jennifer Robinson  CAN
  29. Michelle Kwan  USA
  30. Elena Sokolova  RUS


Short Program Placements
Place Skater NOC
1 Michelle Kwan  USA
2 Elena Sokolova  RUS
3 Fumie Suguri  JPN
4 Carolina Kostner  ITA
5 Sasha Cohen USA
5 Viktoria Volchkova  RUS
7 Elena Liashenko  UKR
8 Sarah Hughes  USA
9 Jennifer Robinson  CAN
10 Julia Sebestyen  HUN
11 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
12 Yoshie Onda  JPN
13 Dan Fang  CHN
14 Galina Maniachenko  UKR
15 Ludmila Nelidina  RUS
16 Joanne Rochette  CAN
17 Julia Lautowa  AUT
18 Alisa Drei  FIN
19 Jenna McCorkell GBR
20 Sarah Meier  SUI
21 Anne Sophie Calvez  FRA
22 Mojca Kopac  SLO
23 Anastasia Gimazetdinova  UZB
24 Sara Falotico  BEL
25 Miriam Manzano  AUS
26 Olga Vassiljeva  EST
27 Idora Hegel  CRO
28 Vanessa Giunchi  ITA
29 Johanna Goetesson  SWE
30 Tugba Karademir TUR

Despite Talk of U.S. Sweep, Only Kwan Comes Through

The marquee event of the 2003 World Championships, the ladies’ competition, continued today with the short program, worth 30% of the total score.

With all hopes of an American "sweep" of the medals dashed by Sarah Hughes’ poor showing in the qualifying round, as well as the unexpected resurgence of Russian champion Elena Sokolova, the championship has gained new energy and excitement.

The more than 9,200 fans in attendance at D.C.’s MCI Center saw some excellent skating well before the final ladies took the ice.

One of the most exciting performances of the afternoon belonged to up-and-coming Dan Fang of China. Skating to music from "Secret Garden," she hit a big double Axel, followed by a huge triple Lutz, double toe loop combination and triple flip. She also displayed improved spirals and layback spin, although she wobbled on a flying camel. Her presentation marks ranged from 4.6 –5.4 while her technical marks ranged from 4.7 to 5.4, leaving her in 13th place.

Reigning European bronze medallist Julia Sebastyen of Hungary, mired in 10th place in her qualifying group after a disappointing performance, wowed the crowd with her high, clean jumps. The 21 year-old from Budapest executed a triple flip; a triple Lutz, double toe loop combination; and a double Axel, before taking an inexplicable fall while skating backward on two feet. Her marks ranged from 4.8 to 5.4 for technique and 5.0 to 5.5 for presentation, putting her in 10th place entering the free skate.

After her calamitous qualifying performance, Olympic champion Sarah Hughes gutted out a clean short program to Rachmaninov’s "Cello Sonata in G Minor," hitting a (slightly cheated) triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, as well as a (cheated) triple flip and double Axel. She skated with good speed and handled the program’s challenging footwork sequences well.

"This was about a 40% improvement over my short program at Nationals," said the 17 year-old high school senior, who has been accepted by Harvard University and is waiting to hear from three other Ivy League institutions: Yale, Princeton and Columbia. The judges, however, were not impressed, assigning Hughes marks of 4.8 – 5.6 for technique and 5.2 – 5.8 for presentation.

When asked if this was her final eligible competition, Hughes quipped, "I didn’t start those rumors."

Sasha Cohen, who has looked strong and confident in practice all week, opened her "Malaguena" short program with a clean triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, but then failed to get enough height on her triple flip and fell hard. "That’s the first flip I’ve missed in like two years, so I’m very disappointed in my performance," she said. With stunning spins, spirals and a lovely double Axel, the 18 year-old still earned marks ranging from 4.9 to 5.4 for technique and 5.4 to 5.9 for presentation, putting her in a tie for fifth place overall.

Skating to "Saint Preux," Victoria Volchkova had to fight to land both her triple Lutz, double toe loop combination and her triple flip. "My program was good overall. I made little mistakes on my jumps, but I like it," said the 20 year-old Russian. A weak spiral sequence, together with a poor layback spin, did not prevent her from earning marks as high as 5.7 for technique and 5.8 for presentation. She enters the free skate tied for fifth place with Cohen.

The surprise of the competition is Carolina Kostner of Italy, who finished fourth at Europeans and went on to win the bronze medal at the junior world championships. The youngster hit a clean triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination, followed by a strong triple flip. Displaying good speed and flow, her only flaws were a rather weak double Axel and a poor leg position on her layback spin. With marks ranging from 5.3 – 5.7 for technique and 5.3 – 5.6 for presentation, the Kostner jumped from 9th place in her qualifying group to 4th place overall.

"You always have to believe in yourself. I remembered that in the Europeans I landed the Lutz forward but I said to myself this time I will do it," said Kostner, who recently left her small Italian village to train in Obertsdorf, Germany with several members of the German national team.

Japan’s Fumie Suguri, who has had a disappointing 2002-2003 season after capturing the bronze medal at last year’s world championships, came through today with a lovely performance to Chopin’s "Piano Concerto No. 2." The 22 year-old from Chiba fought for her triple Lutz, double toe loop combination before hitting a beautiful triple flip and closing her program with a fine combination spin, including the best scratch spin of the event. Her marks ranged from 5.3 to 5.8 for technique and 5.5 to 5.9 for presentation, putting her in third.

"I made a little mistake but I think it was an okay performance," said Suguri. "I really had to make sure that I stood up on my foot for my flip."

Skating at her first world championships since 1995, Sokolova opened with a strong triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination – only the second one of the event – followed by a solid triple flip and double Axel. While her spiral and step sequences were not nearly as strong as Kwan’s, her program had good energy throughout. Her technical marks ranged from 5.6 to 5.9 for technique and 5.6 to 5.9 for presentation.

"I am almost debuting here, so I have nothing to lose," said the 23 year-old from Moscow. "I just had to go out and do it."

Great as many of these performances were, they could not overcome Kwan’s combination of technical proficiency and brilliant performance quality. Skating to Peter Gabriella’s "The Feeling Begins," the four-time world champion was solid as a rock on her jumps, with improved spins and a stunning footwork sequence designed by renowned choreographer Nicole Morozoff. Fans chanted "6, 6, 6" after her performance and were rewarded when Wan received her first perfect mark at the World championships since 1998.

"I take one thing at a time. It’s very important because you have eight elements; you have to make sure you execute each one," said the 22 year-old Californian. "I was very determined. My first World championships I was in Japan (Chiba, 1994) and a young girl, now I’m an old lady trying to win again."


Free Skate

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Anne Sophie Calvez  FRA
  2. Sarah Meier  SUI
  3. Idora Hegel  CRO
  4. Jenna McCorkell GBR
  5. Anastasia Gimazetdinova  UZB
  6. Mojca Kopac  SLO
  7. Alisa Drei  FIN
  8. Ludmila Nelidina  RUS
  9. Galina Maniachenko  UKR
  10. Julia Lautowa  AUT
  11. Dan Fang  CHN
  12. Joanne Rochette  CAN
  13. Julia Sebestyen  HUN
  14. Yoshie Onda  JPN
  15. Shizuka Arakawa JPN
  16. Sarah Hughes  USA
  17. Elena Liashenko  UKR
  18. Jennifer Robinson  CAN
  19. Carolina Kostner  ITA
  20. Michelle Kwan  USA
  21. Viktoria Volchkova  RUS
  22. Elena Sokolova  RUS
  23. Sasha Cohen USA
  24. Fumie Suguri  JPN


Free Skating Placements
Place Skater NOC
1 Michelle Kwan  USA
2 Elena Sokolova  RUS
3 Sasha Cohen USA
4 Fumie Suguri  JPN
5 Viktoria Volchkova  RUS
6 Sarah Hughes  USA
7 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
8 Elena Liashenko  UKR
9 Jennifer Robinson  CAN
10 Alisa Drei  FIN
11 Carolina Kostner  ITA
12 Julia Lautowa  AUT
13 Ludmila Nelidina  RUS
14 Julia Sebestyen  HUN
15 Yoshie Onda  JPN
16 Galina Maniachenko  UKR
17 Mojca Kopac  SLO
18 Sarah Meier  SUI
19 Joanne Rochette  CAN
20 Jenna McCorkell GBR
21 Anne Sophie Calvez  FRA
22 Dan Fang  CHN
23 Idora Hegel  CRO
24 Anastasia Gimazetdinova  UZB

Kwan Wins Fifth World Title

To paraphrase Mark Twain, expectations of American domination of the ladies’ event at the 2003 World Championships in Washington, D.C. were greatly exaggerated. When it was all over, only Michelle Kwan stood on the podium, winning her fifth world title and eighth consecutive medal.

A sellout crowd of more than 16,000 on hand at the MCI Arena saw little to cheer during the first two groups of skaters. Of the 12 ladies in these warm-up groups, just Alisa Drei of Finland managed her program without multiple falls and/or stumbles. Skating with good speed, Drei executed five clean triples in her "Adagio" free, in addition to several strong double Axels. With marks of 4.6 –5.1 for technique and 4.8 – 5.5 for presentation, she stood in first place as the final 12 skaters took the ice. (She would end in 10th place in the free program and 12th overall.)

The skating did not improve much through the first several competitors in the next-to-last group. Current European bronze medallist Julia Sebastyen continued her disappointing showing here, completing only three clean triples. Despite a successful Grand Prix season, Japan’s Yoshi Onda was also unable to mount a challenge to the leaders, falling on her first two attempts at triples, and popping and falling out of the next two. Though she closed her free program strongly with a triple Lutz, a triple toe loop, triple toe loop sequence and two big double Axels, this was a competition the promising 20 year-old jumping specialist would rather forget.

Things picked up considerably when Onda’s countrywoman Shizuka Arakawa took the ice. Skating to "Titanic," the elegant Arakawa – who is in the process of arranging with the Japanese Skating Federation to work with coach Richard Callaghan full-time in the U.S. -- opened with a triple Lutz, triple toe loop, double loop combination that had only the slightest of "cheats" (an eighth of a turn short) on the triple toe. She followed with a triple Salchow, a nice flying camel, a two-footed triple flip and a lovely catch-foot spin before doubling her next jump, another Lutz. Arakawa closed with a triple loop, (weak) spirals, a layback spin and a triple toe loop and double Axel. Her marks ranged from 5.3 – 5.6 for technique and 5.2 – 5.6 for presentation. She ended the evening in 8th place overall.

The first of the three American ladies, Sarah Hughes, was next. After her disappointing qualifying round, the Olympic gold medallist was mired in 9th place, with no hope to medal here. Skating to "La Bayadare," she opened with a double Axel, triple toe loop sequence, then reduced a planned triple Salchow, triple loop combination to a lone triple Salchow. She continued well with a triple loop, a (rather slow) catch-foot spin and a slightly wild triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, before falling hard on a triple flip. The 17 year-old closed with a circular footwork sequence that had a few awkward moments, a combination spin and layback, a triple toe loop, a spiral sequence and a solid flying camel. Her marks ranged from 4.8 – 5.6 for technique and 5.3 – 5.8 for presentation, putting her 6th in the free skate and 6th overall.

"I’m glad that’s over!" said Hughes. "(On the flip) It didn’t go up straight but sometimes I can save it. The fall really hurt." On rumors that she was withdrawing from the upcoming Champions on Ice tour, Hughes and coach Robin Wagner both replied, "No comment."

Hughes may be heading off to pursue her academic career, as she expects to field acceptances from several Ivy League universities next week. "I have a lot to look forward to, a lot of choices," she said. Her skating future remains uncertain.

Veteran competitor Elena Liashenko of Ukraine had a ho-hum performance of her "Tango" free, including a popped triple loop and several two-footed triples. Though she landed a triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, as well as a triple flip, a triple toe loop, and a triple Salchow, she seemed to lack energy and her usual speed. "It was difficult to motivate myself because the season is over," said Liashenko, who must not consider improving her world ranking sufficient incentive. "I didn’t do the loop because it is not my favorite jump." She finished 8th in the free and 7th overall.

Skating last in the warm-up group, Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson opened with a triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, then fell victim to her tendency to two-foot landings. Her attempt at a triple Salchow, triple loop combination ending with a pronounced two-footed landing, as did her next jump, a triple flip. With marks ranging from 4.7 – 5.4 for technique and 5.1 – 5.6 for presentation, she ended the event in 9th place for the free program and 9th overall.

Then it was time for the final warm-up group of six.

Carolina Kostner, a 16 year-old from Italy who stunned observers with her 4th place in the short program, was up first. The tall, slender youngster opened with a triple loop, then had a disastrous try of her triple Lutz triple toe loop combination, doubling the Lutz and hitting the boards with her free leg on the triple toe. ("The rink is so small here; I’m a little afraid to do my jumps," the inexperienced Kostner had said after the qualifying round.) Kostner then fell on a triple flip before hitting a double Axel, triple Salchow sequence, a double Salchow and a double Axel. The promising skater ended up 11th in the free skate and 10th overall.

The crowd roared as Michelle Kwan took the ice for her "Aranjuez" program, choreographed by Nikolai Morozov. The 22 year-old Californian did not put a foot wrong, hitting six triples, a double Axel, a flying camel and a combination spin. But, as always with Kwan, just listing these (rather mundane) elements does not do justice to her matchless performance quality. While other skaters are trying, and occasionally landing, triple, triple combinations; while others are doing more difficult and speedier spins; and while others skate with more speed, no one reaches an audience or interprets music as well. The four-time world champion earned marks of 5.7 – 5.9 for technique and 5.8 – 6.0 (two) for artistry, winning her fifth world title.

"I can’t even put it into words. It is so amazing. I just let it go. At the end of my footwork sequence, it was ‘Yeah’!" said Kwan with a pump of her fist. "I heard them (the audience) but I took one thing at a time. I was in my body, in the zone tonight."

Russia’s Viktoria Volchkova was up next, skating to "Four Seasons." The 20 year-old made a good attempt at a triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination, two-footing the triple toe but standing up well. She followed with a triple loop, a triple flip, a (poor) layback spin, a triple Salchow, a triple toe loop, a (poor) spiral sequence, a double Lutz and a somewhat shaky double Axel. Although her choreography was relatively simple, she skated with good speed, and earned marks of 5.2 – 5.7 for technique, 5.2 –5.7 for presentation. She took 5th place in the free and 5th overall.

"Tonight’s performance was the best of the season so I am very happy about it," said Volchkova, who trains in the Chicago area with coach Oleg Vasiliev.

The resurgent Elena Sokolova, who won the Russian championship earlier this year and is making her first appearance at worlds since 1998, opened her program with a triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination, followed by a triple flip, a triple Salchow, double toe loop combination, a triple loop, a triple Lutz, a triple toe loop and a double Axel. While her jump content may have been superior to Kwan’s, the remainder of her program – including spins, spirals and step sequences – was far inferior. She earned marks of 5.6 – 5.9 for technique and 5.4 – 5.9 for presentation, including one first-place ordinal. Sokolova won her first world medal, a silver.

"I did the maximum I could today. My qualifying was better, but I am absolutely happy with my skate," said Sokolova.

America’s other hope, 18 year-old Sasha Cohen, was next. She opened strongly with a triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination, with only a slight two-foot on the triple toe. Cohen went on to hit a solid triple Lutz and a triple flip, double toe loop combination, before the unthinkable happened: a fall on a flying camel spin. Recovering, Cohen hit a strong triple loop and a lovely Ina Bauer, before falling again on a triple toe loop. Still fighting through the program, she landed a triple Salchow (slightly forward), double toe loop combination, a beautiful layback spin, a double Axel, her stunning spiral sequence, a triple Salchow, a straight-line footwork sequence and a closing combination spin. Cohen finished third in the free, with marks ranging from 5.4 – 5.7 for technique and 5.5 – 5.9 for artistry, and took 4th place overall.

"I had some mistakes on a spin and a jump. I was actually happy that I did a triple/triple for the first time. I’m disappointed I didn’t improve my standing, but I did some good things at this competition," said Cohen, who trains in Simsbury, Connecticut with Tatiana Tarasova’s group.

Japan’s Fumie Suguri was the final skater of the night. She opened her "Swan Lake" program with a solid triple Lutz, double toe loop combination and a strong triple flip before popping a planned triple toe loop, double toe loop into two singles. She recovered strongly with a triple loop and a second triple Lutz, then turned out of the landing of a triple Salchow. Nevertheless, she defeated Volchkova in the free – finishing 4th in that segment of the competition – and overcame Cohen’s superior free skate to win her second consecutive bronze medal.

"I made one mistake. I wondered about my placement until the last minute. I didn’t think about a medal that much," said Fumie. "I thought about doing my best, just like in practice. Next season, I will improve myself and my skating from this experience." 

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