2001 Four Continents Championship

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Reports from the event

Tuesday afternoon/evening men's short program practice

I didn't take notes, so here are just a few random jottings from memory.

After hearing that Todd Eldredge had taken the quad out of his short program for this event, lo and behold, it was back in today. He even landed it in the runthrough, although it was pretty messy. Matt Savoie was also seen working on a quad toe at the end of the session -- many doubles, a few that were fully rotated but that he fell on because the landing wasn't fully checked. He looks like he's skating well otherwise.

Michael Weiss was a mess, to put it bluntly. Many, many failed attempts at the quad toe, followed by a bunch more failed attempts at a quad lutz, followed by a few failed attempts at a triple loop. I didn't see him try an axel, and he gave up on his program runthrough after missing the quad. I was wondering if he was not only still shellshocked from his disaster in Boston, but whether he might be injured as well -- he seemed to be rubbing his back a lot.

Emanuel Sandhu managed to show both his split personalities in the same practice session -- he started out with a few gorgeous triple axels (I was amazed to see that he did these from a completely clean takeoff edge, too), had a lot of problems with the quad toe before he finally landed a gorgeous quad/triple combination, and then had even more problems while working on a quad salchow.

Jayson Denommee looked relaxed, and Ben Ferreira looked like his usual self. They were both working on quad toes, too -- Ben landed a nice quad/triple towards the end of the session.

All three of the Japanese guys were really struggling, although Takeshi Honda finally managed to land some jumps towards the end of the practice. I'm having a hard time remembering what the Chinese guys did since they skated all the way back in the first group I saw. Anthony Liu looks to be in good shape, although I don't think his short program music does anything for him.

Wednesday morning compulsory dances

I'm feeling far too lazy to give a blow-by-blow review here, but....

I was pretty astonished that Bourne & Kraatz won the Westminster Waltz with straight first-place ordinals, because to my eye, they were not all that impressive. Their pattern was not as large as those of some of the other couples, their lobes were fairly shallow, and it looked to me like they did the rocker/counter turns on more or less complete flats. BTW, Shae's dress for the Silver Samba looks like another Tarasova special.... red polka dots on a black dress, with ruffles all over her butt topped by a big red flower. I guess bustles are "in" this season!

One couple that did impress me a lot (in both dances) was Dubreuil & Lauzon. This was the first time I'd seen them in person. They're very fast, strong dancers, in a way that doesn't necessarily come across well on TV.

Joseph & Forsyth looked a lot sharper here than they did in the same dances at Nationals. Very interesting that they beat Handra & Sinek by two places in both dances, when Handra & Sinek were so obviously superior in Boston.

Wednesday afternoon pairs short program

Here was the real excitement of the competition.... Langlois & Archetto were the second team to skate, and she was wearing this dress with a beaded fringe for a skirt. Somewhere in the middle of their program, her dress started to shred itself all over the ice. They managed to finish OK, but then what seemed like a dozen sweepers and ice technicians -- not to mention Shen & Zhao, who were supposed to be the next team to skate -- were crawling around on the ice for quite a long time trying to pick up all the beads. Finally the referee decided that it was going to be necessary to do an immediate ice resurface to clean up the mess. So Shen & Zhao had to wait around some more and then get a second 6-minute warmup. They did pretty well, considering.

1. Sale & Pelletier
Throw triple loop, triple toes cleanly landed in spite of looking a little tentative going in, big twist, complicated lift, good side-by-side spins, etc. From their marks, it looks like they picked up a deduction on something, but this was clearly the first-place performance.

2. Shen & Zhao
Basically skated a clean program -- triple toes, spirals, throw, were all fine. It just seemed a bit flat, and lacking a bit of the extra polish that Sale & Pelletier had.

3. Ina & Zimmerman
He barely hung on to landing of triple toes, twist was nice, looked like she put a hand down on the throw triple salchow. One of their better short programs of the season.

4. Wirtz & Wirtz
Triple toes, double twist looked kind of awkward, he looked like almost fell over on the throw. No serious errors, but they just looked a little off throughout. Nice program, though.

5. Scott & Dulebohn
She fell on the triple toe and again on the throw triple salchow, but I thought the latter error was more his fault -- it looked to me like he threw her very awkwardly. The international judges really seem to appreciate this team's choreography and unison -- especially impressive for them to have placed this high with two major errors.

6. Pang & Tong
Gigantic throw triple salchow, she splatted on her triple toe, got very far apart on their side-by-side spins. Their tango program seems a bit too frenetic and it looked like they were having trouble keeping up with their choreography by the end of the program.

7. Hartsell & Hartsell
Both had mistakes on the triple toes -- she doubled, he kind of fell out of it -- but I didn't spot any other problems. If this had happened at Nationals, I'd bet the US judges would have had them ahead of Scott & Dulebohn.

8. Langlois & Archetto
They of the sequin emergency. Throw triple salchow went straight up instead of out, she fell on triple salchow, spiral sequence was in a small circle that did not cover the ice.

9. Kawaguchi & Markuntsov
He doubled the triple toe, throw triple salchow was OK, ugly pretzel lift with a near-disaster on the dismount, more pretzel moves in spiral sequence and pair spin. They were very slow. I have the sense that nobody would be talking about this team at all if it weren't for all the contortionist stuff Moskvina has choreographed into their program; otherwise their skating looked completely unremarkable to me.

10. Ponomareva & Sviridov
Both botched triple toes, step-out on throw triple salchow, weak side-by-side spins, pair spin slow.

11. Aganina & Knyazev
Splat on throw double salchow, she did only a single axel while he did a double. In spite of their errors, I thought this team had a really endearing quality about them -- particularly the girl (and yes, she really is just a girl).

Wednesday evening men short program

I haven't seen the official results yet; this is what I hastily copied down from the arena displays.

1. Todd Eldredge
Well, the quad was back out of the program today. Todd skated last, so it may well have been that he realized a clean program without a quad would win it, and that's what he skated. He did triple flip/triple toe for his combination; it looked a little scary to me, buried very deep in the corner and very close to the wall. Everything else was fine.

2. Chengjiang Li
Super quad toe, triple axel/triple toe, then messed up the landing of his double axel at the end of the program, sigh. His power and speed and smoothness over the ice were awesome -- you could see it even when he was just stroking around waiting for his name to be called.

3. Matt Savoie
A clean short for Matt! Triple axel, triple flip/triple toe, triple lutz. Fairly wide variation within his marks; he might have done better if he'd skated later in the draw.

4. Takeshi Honda
Quad toe/triple toe, popped axel out of spread eagle (this jump was giving him fits in practice yesterday), triple flutz. Takeshi skated even earlier than Matt, and his marks were low enough that I didn't expect him to finish this high.

5 (tie). Yamato Tamura
Surprise! Yamato pulled off a program with a quad toe/double toe, double axel, triple lutz. His marks were all over the board -- 4.9 to 5.8 for required elements. Lack of a triple axel probably made different judges assign him radically different base marks.

5 (tie). Michael Weiss
Popped his quad into a double, triple axel/triple toe looked kind of barely squeaked out, double axel. I'm not sure if he improvised the combination after missing the quad (which was his combo at Nationals), but I think he would have been better off going for a triple lutz/triple toe and solo triple axel instead, as most of the judges seemed to give him a fairly low base mark for this. This wasn't the train wreck I'd been fearing, though.

7. Ben Ferreira
Triple axel/double toe with a very stiff landing, triple lutz, double axel.

8. Anthony Liu
Hands down on quad toe, triple lutz/triple toe, double axel. Death drop was huge, but spin combination at the end travelled a lot and had weak positions.

9. Min Zhang
Splat on triple axel, quad toe/triple toe landed with very little flow, triple lutz. This guy has wonderfully soft edges, but his spins need work. Very wide spread on both marks reflect his strengths and weaknesses.

10. Roman Skorniakov
Triple axel/triple toe, triple lutz, double axel. He hit his jumps fine, but his placement reflects problems with his basic in-between skating -- not a lot of power, problems with his carriage, etc.

11. Yunfei Li
Quad toe overrotated with a step-out and hand down, triple lutz/triple toe had no flow, double axel. Another guy with weak carriage and lack of power in his basic stroking.

12. Jayson Denommee
Triple axel/double loop, triple lutz out of a whole lot of footwork double axel. Jayson had the bad luck to draw first to skate, and I think he just got kind of buried in the standings.

13. Emanuel Sandhu
Well, this was Emanuel Hyde. Landed a quad toe right off the bat, then proceeded to waxel both the axel that was supposed to be his combination and the one that was supposed to be the solo double axel. Huge spread on the required elements mark, and high presentation marks were not enough to save him.

14. Yosuke Takeuchi
Triple lutz, triple axel with a step-out and hand down into a double toe, double axel. Takeuchi deserves an honorable mention for receiving this competition's Alexei Urmanov award -- skating to "Night on Bald Mountain" in a costume that seems to have been inspired by the same theme as Urmanov's "volcanic eruption" costume (black outfit dripping with yellow and orange ruffles and sequins all over), and similarly busy choreography. I liked it.

I have notes on the rest of the field, but am too lazy to type them all in right now.

Thursday morning original dance

I didn't take detailed notes on this. Here are some quick comments on the top finishers.

Bourne & Kraatz's re-worked OD looks good, as does Shae's new costume. I think that for once they have an OD that is not a liability to them.

Not much to say about Lang & Tchernyshev and Dubreuil & Lauzon; their placements seemed correct to me. OTOH, I cannot for the life of me figure out why the judges put Joseph & Forsyth in 4th place. They were really, really slow and it looked to me like they had a pretty obvious screw-up at one point in their dance. Other folks I talked to also thought they ought to have been behind both Wing & Lowe and Handra & Sinek.

Thursday afternoon pairs free skate

I'm not normally a huge fan of pairs, but this was an exceptionally strong competition. All of the top 3 teams skated essentially clean performances, and the 4-6 teams also did well and should be very proud of themselves.
1. Sale & Pelletier
Last to skate; they had to skate a clean program in order to win, and they rose to the challenge. Throw triple loop, triple toes, triple twist, lasso lift with a twist dismount, throw triple salchow, another lift (I think this was the one with all the changes of grip), back inside death spiral, illegible scribble into double toes, waist lift. I remember that they did side-by-side butterfly spins and a pair spin in there somewhere too. (Sorry, I'm still having problems taking good notes on pairs at the same time I'm taking photos.)

2. Shen & Zhao
Sequence of double axels into triple toes, another set of triple toes, triple twist had a bad catch this time, throw triple loop, lasso lift, throw triple salchow, star lift, wimpy side-by-side spins, even wimpier pair spin, spirals, forward inside death spiral, straight-line steps, back press lift.

3. Ina & Zimmerman
Triple toes, with him landing in a lunge but not going down, double axels, triple twist, sequence of two double toes (I think), lasso? lift, throw triple loop, pivot move, forward inside death spiral, side-by-side spins, adagio lift that had the audience going "ooooh!", great throw triple salchow, straight-line step, hip lift, pair spin.

4. Pang & Tong
Triple twist, triple toes, huge throw triple salchow (even bigger than S&Z's throws usually are), death spiral, side-by-side spins fairly weak, star(?) lift, double axel with her stepping out, another huge throw, pair spin, lasso lift, straight-line steps, single axels into double toes, hip lift, pair spin.

5. Scott & Dulebohn
A sequence of double axels with some hops and split leaps into triple toes -- she fell; crashy triple twist, lasso(?) lift, throw triple salchow, back press lift, side-by-side spins good as usual, spirals, throw double axel, single axels, pair spin, another lift, back outside death spiral. Definitely a stronger program than Pang & Tong, but they need the triple toes, and their pair elements are all a lot smaller.

6. Langlois & Archetto
Throw triple salchow, triple toes, triple twist, sequence of triple salchows with her falling and then double toes, lasso lift into a star position, back inside death spiral, unattractive pair spin (they're trying the "Natalia spin", but she can't get anywhere close to a complete split in it), spirals, throw triple toe, simple back press lift, straight-line steps, double axels, side-by-side camels, star lift, forward inside death spiral with a swing entry.

Among the remaining teams, the Wirtzes imploded with mistakes on all of their solo jumps, only a double twist, and a failed lift besides; the Hartsells had a sloppy skate (this time it was Steve who couldn't land a jump to save his life); and while Kawaguchi & Markuntsov hit a lot of elements this time, their basic skating quality isn't quite there yet.

Thursday night ladies short programs

Good grief, what an exhausting night of skating. Things got under way a few minutes before 7pm, and didn't wind up until 11:15pm. I really felt sorry for those poor judges. The audience kept getting smaller and smaller as the night went on, but the judges didn't have the choice to leave! They really should have swapped the schedule to put this in the daytime session and the OD and pairs final at night.

As a few general observations, I am sure that the Japanese federation must be thrilled with the performances of their skaters -- all three of them made the final 6. OTOH, I suspect that the USFSA is not too happy with Angela Nikodinov, who reverted to old habits, popped two jumps, and is sitting in 7th. There was a lot of talk among the folks sitting near me that Jenny Kirk really ought to have won the short. She was certainly electric in her performance, while Tatyana two-footed her double axel, Fumie fell on her flip, and Shizuka's presentation was kind of flat.

1. Tatyana Malinina
Triple lutz/double toe off a strong entrance edge, a lot of steps in an unusually curved approach to a triple flip, double axel was two-footed. Nice flying camel, but the layback was kind of ugly.

2. Fumie Suguri
Triple lutz/double toe, very fast skating into a triple flip that she splatted on, big double axel. I think she must have picked up a spin deduction or something in addition to the 0.4 for the fall.

3. Shizuka Arakawa
Triple lutz/double toe, triple "lip", double axel. Ugly layback and pretty minimal presentation, although maybe one of the reasons why her program seemed so flat is that she skated at about 11pm when there were hardly any people left in the building.

4. Jennifer Kirk
Triple lutz/double toe, triple flip, double axel. She sold this program all the way through and had a huge smile on her face by about halfway through the program.

5. Yoshie Onda
Triple flutz(?)/double toe (she went into this from such a straight entrance that I originally thought it was intended to be a flip), triple flip from footwork, double axel. Another ugly layback.

6. Annie Bellemare
Triple lutz/double toe with no flow, triple flip, double axel with no step up. Yet another ugly layback, but I thought her presentation otherwise was fine.

7. Angela Nikodinov
Triple flutz/double toe, double flip, popped axel. Arggghhhh!

8. Jennifer Robinson
Triple lutz with a step out into a double toe crammed into the boards as usual, triple flip two-footed, double axel. One of the few Canadian ladies with a nice layback.

9. Amber Corwin
Triple toe/triple toe terribly pre-rotated on the first jump (this one was really bad, even for her), triple lutz did not follow immediately from steps, huge splat on a waxel. She looked miserable in the kiss&cry.

10. Stephanie Zhang
Huge triple lutz/double toe, triple toe was two-footed, double axel. Spins were quite weak and in fact she stumbled at the end of her combination. This is the first time I've seen this skater and I can understand why there's been such a "buzz" about her.

11. Bit-Na Park
Triple flip/double toe, triple salchow out of footwork, double axel. She could have skated with more speed, I didn't think her straight-line steps covered the full length of the ice, and her layback was ugly, but overall this was a solid performance from a solid skater.

12. Carina Chen
Two-footed triple lutz/double toe, triple toe out of steps, double axel. This was a nice skate for her.

Quick notes on a few other skaters.... Nicole Watt was not at all impressive to me and I don't understand why Skate Canada is promoting her so much. In the US, she would be an unremarkable junior. Dirke Baker had a rough skate with mistakes on all three jump elements and falling on her spin combination as well. The Mexican girl who made the cut, Rocio Salas Visuet, is a perfectly competent skater, but the other two were novice level at best. Marina Khalturina does not look at all out of place as a singles skater; it sure looked to me like she was trying triple salchow/*triple* toe as her combination. She's being coached here by Roman Skorniakov, BTW. Shirene Human skated a more or less clean performance but was very slow. Joanne Carter was very fast and powerful but struggled with her jumps and is clearly not yet back from her latest injury.

Friday afternoon free dance

I took no notes during this event, and I also came in late and missed the first group entirely.

Bourne & Kraatz may have won the judges, but Lang & Tchernyshev won the crowd -- and not just because they're American, either, I think. I can appreciate the difficulty in B&K's free dance (all those twizzles, and the transitions between the tricks), but that endless screeching music drives me nuts. And judging by what I've heard from talking with others here, I'm not the only one who hates it, too.

I didn't see Lang & Tchernyshev's dance at Nationals, but this performance "worked" for me a lot better than the one I saw at Skate America, where I didn't really care for the dance at all. They skated well and got pretty much everyone in the arena to stand for them at the end, whereas only a few people here and there were standing for B&K, who seemed to get more polite than enthusiastic applause from the audience.

I thought Dubreuil & Lauzon's dance was a bit heavy on lifts and light on footwork, and their expression was so over-the-top dramatic it was getting silly. It was obvious that they were going to finish third no matter what they did, though, because Joseph & Forsyth had a big fall about halfway through their program and dropped a spot. Jessica was supposed to kick her free leg over Brandon, who was in a low crouch, but instead she toppled over backwards, and it took them several seconds to get back into their choreography. Wing & Lowe's dance struck me as being fairly slow and simple. I hadn't seen it even on TV before this event; it's in the same style that several other teams from Detroit have been using the past year or two, with new-age music with chanting and a heavy beat. Handra & Sinek did a good job with their dance but there was no way they were going to move up when they didn't skate in the final group.

Friday evening men's free skate

I came in late and missed the first group again. My apologies, but after last night I didn't think I could handle sitting through another 4 hours of skating, although it ended up not running quite that late tonight.

Tonight's big happening was that Todd Eldredge withdrew after skating the 6-minute warmup (in his old costume for this program rather than the "Amish Klingon" get-up from Nationals). Nobody in the arena had a clue about what the problem was -- when they announced his withdrawal, they said nothing about why. In the practice this morning, Todd didn't do much of anything and I think he was the first skater off the ice long before the end of the practice. If he is injured I suppose he will be out of the Grand Prix Final as well. Looks like another speed bump on the comeback trail.

1. Chengjiang Li
Quad toe/triple toe, quad salchow (and no two-foot take-off on this one, either), beautiful flying camel, circular steps, death drop, triple axel/triple toe with the second jump underrotated and a step out, change camel, popped axel, triple loop, triple salchow, straight-line step, spin combination, back scratch.

One unfortunate side-effect of Eldredge's withdrawal was that people in the arena were still buzzing over it when Li started to skate, and weren't really paying much attention to him. I don't think it was entirely his fault that his program kind of fell flat -- even the incredible quads he opened with got very little reaction from the crowd.

2. Takeshi Honda
Triple axel/triple toe, would-be quad popped to a double, triple salchow, butterfly spin, triple loop, spin combination, spread eagle into another triple axel with a step out, triple flutz, MITF, triple flip, another spin combination, walley jump landed in a spread eagle, death drop.

The list of elements conveys nothing about how breathtakingly beautiful this program is. It's set to "Concierto de Aranjuez", and has a quiet, contemplative feel to it, very much like Ryan Jahnke's "Asturias" program from last season. I don't know who choreographed this program, but it is brilliant, and Takeshi interpreted it beautifully. It was the sort of performance that reminds me why I love this sport so much. Thank you, Takeshi.

3. Michael Weiss
The "William Tell" program. Spirals, quad toe two-footed/triple toe, triple axel wildly leaning in the air also probably slightly two-footed in combination with a double toe, flying camel, another wildly crooked triple axel, butterfly spin, edgy stuff, circular steps in a small pattern, triple flip, triple loop barely saved, triple salchow, straight-line step, double lutz, tuck axel.

You know there's something really wrong with Michael Weiss when he's struggling with his lutz, which is normally his best triple. He was having lots of problems with it in the practices I saw, too. Maybe working on the quad has thrown off his timing on the triple? But that wouldn't explain the trouble he's having with the loop, too. In any case, while I have to give him credit for being able to stand up on those jumps, he really gave the impression of struggling through the whole program -- he was pretty slow, too -- and his presentation marks were a bit generous.

4. Matt Savoie
Back split into a triple salchow, triple axel/triple toe a bit overrotated so that he almost fell over backwards (too much energy, I think), intentional double axel, butterfly spin, fell on triple flip with no height, camel, triple loop, edgy steps, spread eagles into a triple axel with a step-out, flying camel with a layover position, cool pivot move, straight-line steps, hydroblade into triple lutz, spin combination.

I keep wishing that Matt would show a little more self-confidence. He is doing incredible things on the ice, but even in practices he often seemed to be skating with a look of acute distress on his face instead of looking like he's enjoying himself in any way. I don't know if the solution is a sports psychologist, or acting lessons, but I do think that if he could lose that deer-in-the-headlights look and project more confidence and command, it would help both his technical and presentation marks.

5. Min Zhang
Triple axel/triple toe made to look easy, quad toe, flying camel, triple lutz with delayed rotation, circular step, camel, quad toe with a hand down/double toe, triple flip, basic spin combination, triple loop, triple salchow, wimpy straight-line steps, another simple spin combination.

I believe Zhang actually finished 4th in the free skate, ahead of Savoie. The jumps were all first-rate, but the spins, footwork, and connecting elements were really minimal in this program -- maybe novice or junior level in difficulty. This guy has really nice soft knees and I'm sure he's capable of better footwork, in particular. It may be just bad choreography and program construction, rather than a technical problem. His music was really a mishmash.

6. Yamato Tamura
Quad toe/double toe completed but with a very nasty bent-over landing, another quad toe with a similar landing, big death drop, double axel, straight-line step, triple loop with a step-out, flying camel, MITF, triple lutz with a step out and hand down, triple flip/double toe, double salchow, almost fell on a double axel, butterfly spin.

Major stamina problem -- he looked ready to die at the end of the program. In spite of the two quads, Yamato only managed to land one clean triple. I'm sure he finished behind Sandhu in the long and perhaps Yunfei Li as well.

7. Emanuel Sandhu
Quad toe with a hand down, triple axel with a step out into triple toe, triple flip, triple salchow, flying sit (? not sure), triple axel, edgy steps, butterfly spin, double loop followed immediately by a triple loop (looked like he just threw in another attempt), dancing around, straight-line steps, popped the lutz, triple toe also looked improvised, spin combination, poor illusion into a headless scratch spin.

Emanuel skated very early, before the Zamboni break, because of having bombed his short. This certainly wasn't a great performance, but I have to give him credit for fighting through the mistakes and trying to get as much content as possible in his program. I think he realized how embarassing it would be if the new Canadian champion ended up finishing last of the three Canadian men entered in this event.

8. Yunfei Li
Quad toe/triple toe, big splat on waxel, flying camel, straight-line steps, triple flip/triple toe, triple loop, sit/back sit/catch-leg spin with the leg pulled very high, MITF including a spiral with his free leg again pulled up into a vertical split, triple salchow, death drop (?), reached on triple lutz, double axel, spin combination.

9. Ben Ferreira
Triple toe (was supposed to be a quad), triple axel/double toe, circular step, triple lutz, spin combination, posing, triple flip with a stiff landing, MITF, triple loop with a step out, slow cross-foot spin, toe steps, hops into a triple salchow, weak flying camel, triple lutz with a bad step-out, split jump (? can't read my scribbling), butterfly spin.

10. Yosuke Takeuchi
Quad toe landed at a dead stop, triple axel/double toe, triple flip(?)/double toe, change sit, double axel, death drop, circular step, triple loop with no flow, fly camel, triple lutz, double salchow, spread eagles, triple flip with a step out, straight-line step, spin combination.

Brief notes on the rest of the field: Denommee, Skorniakov, and Liu all imploded in their free skates. Liu took a particularly nasty fall by slipping off the entrance to a spin; he ended up doing a flying belly-flop onto the ice instead. Lee, the Korean, actually skated quite well, landing a triple axel and 4 other triples. He needs to skate faster and stop looking down at the ice all the time, though (the latter especially noticible when the seats are all 15 feet above ice level). The skaters who finished below that were not landing much of anything.

Saturday afternoon ladies free skate

I'm feeling majorly unenthusiastic about writing at the moment. I made the mistake of going to the exhibition; I'm not much of a fan of show skating anyway, and the programs here varied between boring and actively awful. On top of that, they had the sound system in the arena turned up way too high and my ears are still ringing. Sigh.

Anyway, back to ladies. This was a tough competition to judge among the top 5; nobody really turned in an obviously winning performance, and all of them had some things they did well and other things they did not so well. I think my own rankings would have been Onda, Suguri, Malinina, Nikodinov, Kirk.

1. Fumie Suguri
Triple flutz/double toe, triple flip, double axel (I think?), triple toe, flying camel, layback, popped loop, triple flutz, spirals, death drop, circular step, triple salchow with turns into a double toe, spin combination.

2. Angela Nikodinov
Double axel, triple flutz/double toe, triple flip, triple loop, flying camel, spirals, layback, triple salchow, popped lutz, double toe/double toe, spin combination, sideways-leaning spin.

I thought Nikodinov got a major gift from the judges; she probably has the best presentation of the skaters in the event, but she only landed four triples, she flutzed again, and the mistakes at the end of her program made it considerably less effective than it might have been. The overall effect was not that this was an impressive performance, but that she blew it yet again.

3. Yoshie Onda
Triple lutz/double toe, triple flip, long set-up into a triple loop, flying camel, posing, ugly layback, triple lutz, spirals, triple toe (?)/double toe, triple salchow, straight-line steps, triple toe, death drop, two double axels in a row, spin combination. Basically a perfectly skated program with seven triples. It did not look to me like she flutzes (I couldn't see the first one from a good angle, and the second one from a short entrance looked like it was from a true edge), and both her lutz and flip were very high with a noticible delay in the rotation. Her program and choreography were not great -- she skated to a classical mishmash -- but her presentation was quite pleasant.

4. Tatiana Malinina (5th in free skate)
Triple lutz, triple flip, triple loop, flying camel that really flew, triple toe, double axel, layback, posing, triple salchow/double toe, spin combination, circular step, double axel, very fast scratch spin. Her lutz is off a very strong back outside edge, she skates fast, and layback aside, I think she did the best spins of the event. I'm guessing she was probably hurt by not doing her lutz in combination.

5. Jenny Kirk (4th in free skate)
Triple salchow, triple flutz/double toe, triple toe/triple toe looked underrotated on the second jump, flying camel, double axel, change sit spin, posing, triple loop, layback, spirals, triple flip, spread eagle into a triple lutz that looked a little cheated, spin combination.

I don't think Jenny's speed is such a liability to her any more; both here and at Nationals I was impressed by her improvement in that area since last year. I think what's hurting her the most now are technique problems with her elements -- the lack of height on her jumps, the flutz, the flying camel that doesn't really fly. Jenny skated right after Yoshie so there was an easy comparison between the two -- while they both landed 7 triples, it was obvious that Yoshie's were of higher quality.

6. Shizuka Arakawa (7th in the free skate)
Two-foot landing and stumble out of a triple lutz, triple toe/triple toe very good, layback, double "lip", double axel, flying camel, circular steps, double loop, ina bauer into footwork into a triple salchow/double loop (very impressive), spin combination, steps into a walley into a single axel, triple salchow, unsuccessful attempt at a change-edge spiral, some kind of spin to end.

7. Amber Corwin (6th in free skate)
Triple toe/triple toe pre-rotated as badly as the one she did in the short, triple lutz/double toe, popped loop, spin combination, triple flip maybe "lipped" with a double three turn on the landing, camel, steps, crawling into a double lutz, triple salchow, spin combination, spirals, double axel, flying camel.

8. Jennifer Robinson
Fell on triple loop, double lutz, triple salchow, cool spin, triple flip two-footed, spirals, fell out of triple lutz (couldn't really see what went wrong because it was so close to the boards in the blind area in the Delta Center), layback, double axel, flying camel, straight-line steps, triple toe, butterfly spin, spin combination. I liked this program a lot and she presented it well, but she only landed two clean triples.

As you can see, there was a big drop in the quality of the performances after the top 5, and I am too tired right now to have much enthusiasm for continuing down the list to describe everybody's mistakes.

General comments on the event

There were generally very few paying spectators at this competition, particularly at the early-week events. I don't think the organizers could have sold more than a couple hundred all-event tickets. To fill up the arena, they brought in huge groups of school children for the daytime sessions; I'm afraid these kids were pretty noisy and not the most appreciative of audiences for the skaters.

The poor sight lines at the Delta Center weren't such an issue at this competition because there were so many empty seats. It was easy to move down to the first or second row, and a lot of people ended up sitting in the sections behind the judges that seemed to have not been sold at all and just left as open seating for people with credentials. I only once got hassled by the arena staff -- during the last group of men's practice on Friday, they were rudely insisting that everyone move to their ticketed seats even though it was over an hour until the start of the next event and the building was practically empty anyway.

Salt Lake City doesn't seem to be much of a skating town, but from a skate fan's perspective, it's a great place to have a competition. Air fares are a lot more reasonable than to venues like Colorado Springs, there are tons of reasonably-priced hotels within walking distance of the arena and/or downtown, there's a big food court in the downtown mall, and there's now a trolley you can ride for free between the arena and downtown so you don't even have to walk.

Photo gallery

Photos are Copyright (c) 2001, Sandra J. Loosemore, and are provided for personal viewing only.

At this time, I have been uniformly turning down all requests for republication of these photos. Part of the problem is the USFSA's camera policy, which permits photography for "personal use" only. I also cannot do prints or enlargements of these photos because they were taken with a digital camera with a wimpy zoom lens, and aren't high enough resolution to produce a good-quality print.

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