2003 World Chamionships
Second in the short program were the reigning World Champions Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao. Their performance was a wee bit sloppy but with Zhoa falling out of the side-by-side spin. Nevertheless their throw triple loop was outstanding, despite Shen having injured her ankle a few days prior to the event. "I had two injections before practice and before competition", she explained. "They worked. I don't feel anything; my ankle is like made out of wood. We thought about withdrawing on the day after the injury occurred, because I could not do anything. However, I felt a little better, so we decided to compete." Zhao said of his camel spin problem, "I paid attention only to the jumps because of her injury. So, after all the jumps, I was too relaxed."
Former World Champions Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov placed third with a decently skated blues routine. They skated a clean program with successful triple toe loops and throw triple Salchow. "There was some pressure because we skated last. It was a long wait", Tikhonov said, "But I somehow knew that we would do well tonight. I was very confident. Maria did a great job." He further added," There was only a small glitch on the exit of the lift, everything else was very nice. Now we'll fight in the free skating."
Canadians Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto placed sixth in the short, skating to "Harlem Nocturn." "Skating is all about doing it when you have to. This is a good start and what they train for," said their coach Jan Ullmark. "This was the best we have done this short program, better than at the Grand Prix Final," said Archetto. When asked about being recognized in Washington DC, Langlois said "Yes, I can't even go buy a bra without being recognized now but the people here (in DC) are very friendly."
Rena Inoue & John Baldwin Jr., who placed thrid at the recent U.S. National Championships placed 11th, for the best result by an American team in the short program. The only major error in their program was the doubling of triple toe loop by Baldwin. "Going into the triple toe I was over excited and put too much pressure on myself but I didn't let that mistake affect the rest of the program," he said. Said Inoue, "I had a great time out there tonight."
Reigning U.S. Champions Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn placed 13th. "It was really disappointing. I rarely miss my jumps and I wasn't any more nervous than usual but it was really good to have the crowd support," said Dulebohn. Commenting on the secret judging system Scott said, "There were sure a lot of marks but no way to know whose marks they were using. I wish we could get feedback from the judges. Maybe now we should have an audience vote like on the (TV Show) "American Idol.".
The third U.S. team here, Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash, placed 14th just behind Scott & Dulebohn. "Katie was awesome. I am so proud of her. It felt good out there and the audience was really supportive and it was nice to see some people I had competed with as a junior and hadn't seen in a few years," said Lucash. He further added," We would not be here without the efforts of Vadim, our choreographer Elena Petrenko and our home rink's support." Said Orscher "It is an honor to be here representing the USA. I feel this was our best performance of our short , better than at Four Continents."
When asked how being a former world champion himself, helped him prepare his team for their first trip to the world championships, their coach, Vadim Naumov said," I feel being a world champion is a big help to make them aware of what goes on and what it can be like at Worlds along with the technical things." He has been coaching in the United States for five years and coaching pairs teams for three years. This is the second competitive season for this team.
2000 World bronze medalists, Sarah Abitbol & Stephane Bernadis placed ninth. Bernadis said, "Sarah's tendon's are really swollen after she did triple toe loops in practice last week when we were getting ready for this competition. I told her not to risk injury and didn't want her to try the triple toe tonight. " In their performance, Abitbol throw a double toe loop while Bernadis landed his triple.
"We were a little bit afraid what the crowd reaction would be to us [due to the differences between the USA and France over the war with Iraq] but after our men did not skate good and the audience was still nice, we were less worried ," he said.
Abitbol was injured during pre-event practice at the 2002 Winter Olympics and flew back to France for surgery. She returned to the ice in early August, at for first 10 minutes at a time and slowing built back up to the point she could again land the triple toe. "It made me so happy," she said. "It was like sunshine for us," he added.
The pairs event was won by Xue Shen & Hongbo Zhao, who gave one of the most spectacular pair performances ever seen at a World Championships, overcoming in the process an ankle injury to Shen that nearly had the team withdrawing from the competition.
It was strong, solid performance both technically and artistically; and as the music, from "Turandot" began its last section with about 45 seconds to go the audience rose to its feet in an overwhelming standing ovations that continued to grow through to the end of the program. As the audience waited for the marks to come up a chant for "six, six, six" swept the arena. The judges responded with two 6.0s in both the first and second marks. Due to the super secret scoring system it cannot be determined which judges gave the marks, or even if they counted in the scoring. Nor can it be determined if any judge gave the elusive perfect score of 6.0-6.0.
To control the pain in her ankle, Shen had three injections during the day. Two before practice earlier in the day, and one just before the start of their warmup period in the evening. Said Shen, "I felt very excited in the last 45 seconds. Before I went to the warmup period I had another injection and after the six minute warmup I felt a little pain in my ankle but tried my best to forget about the pain, to forget about this injury. After I finished all the difficult elements and 45 seconds were left, I think I can finish all the elements successfully and I saw the audience standing there giving me an ovation and I continued to the end."
The injury she said, "It is a twisted ankle, not a bone injury but the muscle groups in the front and back of the ankle. I injured it in practice, attempting a throw quadruple Salchow. After the injections there is no feeling in the ankle area. I had to rely on past experience to land my jumps and throws. I checked with my coach during the practice to see if I was landing my jumps and throws correctly. It did not feel stable."
Immediately following their performance Zhao said, "We had conflicting feelings during this competition. When Xue got injured we thought about withdrawing, but then we did OK in the Short program. We were unsure about how the free skating would go, because 4:30 minutes is very long. We were very, very nervous, more so than usually, although we have been to so many competitions. Then I saw that Xue nailed each element, each jump, and I got colder and colder inside. I was very excited, and it all came out at the end. It was one of the best performances.
Afterwards at the post event press conference he added, "We were excited and feel vary happy that we defended our world title here tonight. We had very complicated feelings during the past few days. My partner Shen had an injury to her ankle and we even thought of withdrawing from this competition. But we decided that because it is the most important competition of the season and so with the help of injections we have to compete. I appreciate my partners performance. If possible I would like to make my gold medal smaller than hers so that I could give her a bigger one. The second day after the injury when we went to the practice rink for a practice' when the audience saw her they cheered her appearance so we think that the audience here is marvelous, fantastic and even during the competition we were delighted with that. When I saw my partner complete the two triple throws and the solo jump I was very excited and I was full of strength. When I saw and felt the audience so excited about our performance we also felt excitement. I would like to thank the American audience for their support and it was really our motivation during the last part of our performance."
Of their performance he said, "It was the best. I shouted to her 'land.' when she came down from the throws during the program, I shouted it very loud to my partner."
Tatiana Totmianina & Maxim Marinin placed second in the free skate to win the silver medal. It was a capable performance that was well presented with the only significance error the singling of a double toe loop by Marinin in a jump combination. When asked about their performance after leaving the ice Totmianina said, "I don't know. I did everything that depends on me." Marinin replied, "It is sad. It was hard, through the season... Of course, the World Championships are a completely different competition. It is the most important. We were lacking confidence a bit."
"They are disappointed," said their coach, Oleg Vasiliev. "They skated cautious, perhaps too careful. There was one technical mistake but overall it was a good performance."
Later Marinin added, "Today the competition was very interesting. I can't say we skated badly, we skated good but the Chinese pair was better and we are just happy with the competition, lots of people enjoyed it."
The 2000 World Champions, Maria Petrova & Alexei Tikhonov, returned to the podium here to win the bronze medal. Said Tikhonov, "We made a little mistake tonight but it was OK because the audience liked us and we skated OK. It is always difficult to skate first because there is a shorter warmup time. It is better to skate 2nd or 3rd but it was OK to skate first." During their performance Petrova two footed a jump and put two hands down on throw triple loop.
Later he remarked, "It was a big pressure to skate here tonight and of course we tried to do our best for the free program. Unfortunately we made a few mistakes but we skated very well and we are happy with our third place and bronze medal. I hope people like our skating and enjoyed it. It was a great competition here tonight because Xue Shen was injured but she skated beautiful tonight and of course Tatiana and Maxim skated great as well."
On returning to the podium he said, "We trained to skate well, actually we trained a new element. Maria learned the throw triple loop. We changed our choreography to try something else. It is a great feeling to be on the podium again and I hope it will continue."
Anabelle Langlois & Patrice Archetto moved up a place to finish fifth. Said Langois, "Jamie and David came to see us at the hotel and were coming to see us tonight. It is a good thing we skated well as they are Mom and Dad (to us). We want to improve our consistency every year and finish higher than last year which we did. We want to get more consistent on our jumps and throws. Now we will relax, see family and do two shows in Montreal. We will get new programs for next year."
Tiffany Scott & Philip Dulebohn made a major move up from 13th to 9th place. Already planning for next season, Dulebohn said, "We are keeping this long program for next season." "We want a different look for a new short program -- we want something refreshing and new," said Tiffany. Their coach Karl Kurtz added, "She is a tough sell on music and is really picky. I always beg her to give it a chance." Said Tiffany, "I've skated to music I haven't liked." "It was extremely enjoyable to watch them tonight and to see their faces at the end. That is what coaching is all about," finished Kurtz.
Kathryn Orscher & Garrett Lucash dropped two places to finish 16th. In describing their performance Lucash said, "(The) crowd was great out there, it's great when you can feed on that but today our inexperience took over." "I was so nervous," said Orscher. "I was trying to calm myself down but the butterflies in the stomach wouldn't go away today." Commenting on his fall on triple loop Lucash said, "This is the first time I have fallen on a triple loop in competition since August" (at a local competition) .
Canadians Jacinthe Lariviere & Lenny Faustino also moved up substantially after a poor performance in the short program. "Yesterday was a good head clearing day," said Faustino. "It was a good thing we had an extra day between the two competitions; I needed that."
Rena Inoue & John Baldwin Jr. moved up one place to finish 10th. Said Baldwin, "I hoped we could pull up and get two spots for the USA for next year." Added coach Jill Watson, "Pulling the triple Lutz out was a wise coaching decision. I decided that yesterday as they are landing them 50% of the time. Doing that takes a lot of mental energy and it was better to play it safe. I was very aware of the points needed to get more spots for Team USA. "We were really happy to see Phillip and Tiffany skate so well tonight." Together, the two teams pulling up in the free skate were able to qualify the U.S. for two spots next year.
Sarah Abitbol Stephanie Bernadis dropped to 13th place in the free skate and 12th overall in a difficult skate. In the starting section of the program, Abitbol twisted her ankle on their opening throw. After a long pause they resumed the program. After the short program Abitbol had said she was afraid to compete again in the USA after the memories of the injury in salt lake -- so that made her extra apprehensive about competing. Their doctor gave them the okay to skate here, and despite the, apparently minor, injury here they hope they will be able to come back from this setback.
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