All photos Copyright 2006 by George S. Rossano
After the Short Program, Cohen leads Fumie Suguri by 3.78 point; or about one triple jump.
Suguri, who won her qualifying group placed second in tis segment of the event. Suguri also had a good skate, but also made an error in one jump element. In her case the triple flip out of footwork. Said Suguri, "I'm not totally satisfied with today's performance, not just because of the mistake on the triple flip. I felt better than in qualifying. I still think there is some room for improvement. I want to skate better and better every time, always trying to improve."
Third in the Short Program was Elena Sokolova, but with a sixth place finish in the qualifying she remains sixth overall. In total points, however, she closed the gap and is within reach of the bronze medal, roughly three points back behind Kimmie Meissner who currently sits in third place overall. Sokolova skated a clean program with speed and enthusiasm. "I did my short program clean and I'm really happy," she said. "I did all my jumps, spins, spirals and everything classically, how I can do it and how I want to do it. I think it's my best performance of this season. ... I have a big problem with my leg. It hurts all the time. It's my foot." The judges agreed with Sokolova's assessment of her program, awarding her a personal best score for this performance.
Sarah Meier placed fourth in the Short Program and currently lies in seventh position, but still within reasonable striking distance of the bronze medal. Meier skated a nearly clean program, with just a small stumble near the end of her straight line step sequence. In assessing her performance she said, "I'm very happy with the jumps and the other elements. It was too bad that I made the mistake near the end. The rink is a bit smaller than I am used to and so I ran out of room for my steps. I told myself, 'I can't fall. I can't fall', otherwise i'd have a deduction. Without the stumble, I'd have had a new personal best. I felt really good. I didn't jump on practice this morning, so I had lots of energy for this program. I was very nervous, but it was the last time to skate this Short Program, so I really put all my joy of skating into this program."
Fifth in the Short Program was Kimmie Meissner, show was second in her qualifying group. Overall she holds third place, 1.22 points ahead of Yukari Nakano who placed sixth in the Short program and second in her qualifying group. Meissner had a good skate, achieving a personal best, but did not complete her triple Lutz triple toe loop combination. On the Lutz there was a small pause, or hesitation, after the landing, and the second jump was thrown as a double.
High expectations were placed upon Canadian Joannie Rochette after her first place finish in her qualifying group. Despite two errors Rochette didn't give up and gave an otherwise good performance. She currently lies in fifth place, one of three skaters with roughly 85 points who are not out of the running for a medal.
On her opening jump combination Rochette had a minor problem with the landing edge. Her second error, however, was more serious, singling the required double Axel. "Of course I'm sad," she said. "I'm capable of much more. Especially this week I've been skating very good in practice. I don't remember missing a jump since I arrived here. The result is still very good. I'm feeling happy about being fifth. Of course, I hope to skate a great long program, I'm not ltting myself down. I jsut want to finish this season on a great note. Even if I missed the jump I was happy out there. I enjoyed my performance and I was able to relax even though I was skating after Sasha. ... It was really hard to skate last, because I knew everyone in the final warmup at Worlds is going to skate good. I had that pressure, I prefer to skate earlier, but that doesn't matter. You have to skate anyway. I didn't feel affecte by the stress, I felt really good on the ice. The mistake just happened because of a lack of focus at the end."
The third American lady here is Emily Hughes who placed third in her qualifying group, but tenth in the short program. With 79.91 points she is fairly far out of the running for a medal, the equivalent of about two triple jumps. Hughes fell on the triple Lutz in her jump combination, an error that cost her 5.3 points. Said Hughes, "I felt actually very confident going into the program as my last few Short Programs have been really good. Doing the flip was really exciting and I think I was trying a little too hard (on the Lutz). I'm still pretty happy with the result, and I think I can do better tomorrow, and I'm looking forward to it. It's something that happens very rarely, so it was a bit of a shock."
by Kathleen Stafford
Kimmie Meissner raised the excitement level in the Saddledome with her first jumping pass, a flawless triple flip/triple toe combination. Second to skate in the last group, Kimmie laid down a free skate that sent a clear message. If you want to stand at the top of the podium today, I am the one you are going to need to beat. At the end of the day, no one was able to answer that challenge and Kimmie won her first World Championship with a free skate score of 129.70 (69.47 TES + 60.23 PCS) and a total competition score of 218.33.
Kimmie also completed a double Axel, a triple Lutz/triple toe loop combination, a triple loop, a triple Lutz and a triple Salchow. Before bringing the crowd to their feet with her final spin, Kimmie completed a double Axel/double toe loop/double loop combination in the last 30 seconds of her program.
Kimmie added a 10 percent bonus to the base value of her last four jump passes by completing them in the last half of her program. Her spins and footwork sections were rated level 3, with the exception of her first combination spin which was given a level 4.
As Kimmie stood on the podium and watched the U.S. flag unfurl she was thinking, "Last year I was just watching it and now Iím on the podium." Kimmie was clearly thrilled by both her performance and her placement. "I feel really good about my performance, definitely the best Iíve had ever."
Not old enough to compete at Worlds in Moscow last year, Kimmie expressed that is was unbelievable that she has come this far. Kimmie watched the Ladies event at Moscow last year and one thing she learned, especially when watching Irina Slutskaya, is how important it is to stay focused.
Kimmie was asked when she knew that this skate was something special. Kimmie stated that it was not until after the double Axel/double toe loop/double loop that she let herself think about it. She said she has let herself get excited about her skate before she got to the end before, and it has cost her the total focus needed to get through that last combination cleanly.
Kimmieís immediate plans for the future are to return to school, go to her prom and resume the life of the typical teenager. However, she has every intention of being at the World Championships next year and after a rest will resume training. This year Kimmie concentrated on being consistent with the triple/triple combinations. With two completed in this Championship her efforts were obviously successful. Her goal for next year is to return to working on a triple Axel.
Fumie Suguri from Japan had the second highest score in the free skate (119.15 Ė 58.66 TES + 60.29 PCS). She also had the second highest total competition score (209.74) which gave her the silver medal. Fumie had a consistent championship with a number one place in the qualifying round and a number two placement in the short program. This championship was an important step for Fumie, who has struggled with consistency at the World Championships since winning bronze in both 2002 and 2003. This was Fumieís 8th appearance at Worlds, and although only 25, she says she is starting to feel old with all of the young skaters she is skating beside at competitions.
Her experience showed in her free skate to Piano Concerto No. 2 in C by Rachmaninov. Fumie completed a triple Lutz/double toe loop combination, a triple flip, a double Salchow, a triple Lutz, a triple flip/double toe loop combination, a triple toe and a double Axel/double toe loop combination. Her only errors were doubling a planned triple Salchow, for which there is no negative GOE but a lower base value for the jump, and a step out of the two foot landing of the double toe loop following the triple flip, for which she received a -2.29 GOE. Her spins and footwork elements were all level 3s and 4s. Like Kimmie, Fumie received a 10 percent bonus for her last four jumping passes completed in the last half of her program.
Fumieís training this year was negatively impacted by injury and she was disappointed to find herself just off of the podium with a 4th place finish at the Olympics. "It was a very hard after the Olympics. I skated better each day (of the competition) and Iím really satisfied with that part."
Fumie said that is had been difficult for her to shift to the new scoring system. However, Fumie has every intention on being on the podium again next year when the championships are in her home country of Japan. Referring to skating under the new system Fumie said, "I will work on it for next year." Fumie would also like to skate in the Olympics in Vancouver in 2010.
Sasha Cohen came in to the free skate with a 3.62 lead over her competitors and only that lead allowed her to stand on the podium as the bronze medalist. Sasha skated a near flawless short program and so it was even more disappointing when she could not hold it together in the free skate. She was the first to skate in the last group and when she had finished it was clear that the gold medal was up for the taking by any of the five competitors that remained to skate. Sashaís free skate point total of 114.67 (54.32 TES + 61.35 PCS) gave her the fourth best free skate, however with her lead coming in,she finished with a total competition score of 208.88.
"Tonight was difficult for me. I really fought through the whole thing but I struggled on a lot of my elements. Itís tough to get back up after the Olympics, but I am glad I came here and gave it my best shot", Cohen said. She opened with a triple Lutz/double toe loop combination, a triple flip, and a triple loop. There were no deductions up to this point but she seemed to be fighting for the landings. She next executed a change foot combination spin which was rated level 4.
Her program fell apart after that. She stepped out of her triple flip and left off the planned double toe combination. She received a -1.00 GOE on her triple toe, two footed the landing on her double axel, and fell on her final jump, a triple Salchow. With level 4s on all but one of her spins and footwork sections, her circular step sequence was level 3, and the highest component scores of all of the competitors, she was able to save herself from dropping more than two places.
Sasha Cohen and John Nicks view the program replay while waiting for Cohen's marks.
This has clearly been a very difficult year for Cohen. When asked if she would do anything different this year if she had the chance, she replied "Iím a person who likes to look back. You canít always second guess yourself. Thatís something I think Iíve learned in the past two years. Iím past the medals. I judge by my performance. For me this was a low performance. As Iíve evolved medals have had less and less significance for me. Itís about the performance and the process."
Sasha is undecided about what the future holds for her. She will be touring with Champions on Ice and also needs a nice long vacation. After that she would like to explore her options and see if any of her other interests can give her the same passion that she feels for skating.
Clearly emotional, Sasha said life has good days and bad days. "On a bad day to go to a cold empty rink and to be able to overcome those difficulties gives you a great sense of satisfaction. I donít know if I can find that anywhere else".
Elena Sokolova from Russia came in third in the free skate. Standing in 6th place after the short program even a strong free skate couldnít pull her up to stand on the podium.
Sokolova completed a triple Lutz/double toe loop/double loop combination, a double flip, a triple Salchow, a triple Lutz, a triple loop/double toe loop combination, a triple toe loop, and a double Axel/double toe loop combination. She had level 3s on her spins and footwork with a level 4 on her final change foot combination spin. The crowd gave her a lot of support, clapping to the music through the last minute of her program.
With a score of 116.87 (58.93 TES + 57.94 PCS) in the free skate and a total competition score of 202.77 she missed the podium by 6.11 points.
Joannie Rochette from Canada was 5th entering the free skate and dropped to 7th after a very disappointing free skate that put in her 8th place in the free skate and gave her a competition total of 189.41. Even the enthusiastic support of the crowd could not prevent her from taking a fall on a triple Lutz and popping two planned triples into singles. Overall Joannie had very good competition and she should have another chance to stand on the podium next year in Tokyo.
Emily Hughes was 8th after the short program and 7th in the free skate. She should be proud of her performance at her first World championships where she put together 3 strong programs. However, her competition point total of 184.75 couldnít pull her up from 8th place overall.
The Ladies Final was an exciting, suspense filled night of skating where, as we predicted at the start of this competition, the medal winners were not certain until the last skater had left the ice.
2006 Ladies Medalists
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