2004 World Championships
By Maggie Doyle
This group seems to be the easier group when looking through the entire roster but current world champion, Evgeny Plushenko gave a strong performance, reprising his "Petersburg 300" program to take the lead with 0.4 factored placements. He opened with a quad toe - triple toe loop followed by a triple Axel. His next combination a triple Axel - triple toe loop was solid and he then nailed his triple Lutz. He doubled his Salchow but added another triple Salchow to his program. "He did everything we planned except for doubling that Salchow; that was not planned," said Mishen. Plushenko's scores ranged from 5.8 to 5.9 for technical merit and from 5.8 to 5.9 for presentation.
His coach Alexei Mishen did not allow Plushenko to come to the mixed zone to talk to the press and will not until after the free skate. "Mishen joked, "If I let him talk, his skating goes down." "Plushenko did say through the ISU, " This was a good performance and everything is going according to plan. Now I have to relax and then attack tomorrow full force."
Mishen also stated that his student's right knee is improving and won't need surgery although Plushenko's left knee is also irritated from compensating for the first injury at this time. Plushenko said to the ISU, "It's okay, I can skate and that's the important thing." Since he still lands quads and triples, but left his trademark Biellmann spin out his program so as not to risk pulling a muscle.
Fellow Russian Ilia Klimkin was popular with the judges and received a 0.8 factored placement with a strong start as he opened with a triple Axel - triple toe combination. Klimkin's scores ranged from 5.2 through 5.7 for technical merit and from 5.5 through 5.8 for presentation. He injured himself in practice a week ago, tearing a muscle in his hip and leg while practicing a triple Axel. "I am not really in top shape right now. I was really cautious out there today. I decided not to do the Lutz and I think I didn't get a big deduction for that. Mistakes in qualifying cost you dearly, said Klimkin.
Klimkin now trains with Victor Kudriavtsev and didn't skate cleanly, experiencing a small stumble at the end of a spin and a turn out from his second triple Axel for his program to Dr. Diesel by H. le Bars. The first cut of his music was particularly annoying.
Germany's local boy, Stefan Lindemann placed third for 1.2 factored points with scores ranging from 5.0 to 5.7 for technical merit and from 5.2 to 5.7 for presentation.
"I am definitely pleased with this performance. I fought through it. I popped the flip into a double because I wasn't focused enough. I aimed at good placement and that is what I got," he said. He put his hand down on his quad toe loop attempt because he wanted to play it safe. "I probably didn't need the hand and next time I will do it without," said Lindemann. He landed five clean triples including a triple Axel in combination with a double toe loop.
Min Zhang finished in fourth place despite landing two quad jumps, a quad toe loop and a quad Salchow plus four triples. "I think this was quite okay but I got tired near the end.
Zhang indicated he was okay psychologically with skating first but thought it might have affected his marks. His program included a triple Axel- triple toe loop combination but he doubled his final Salchow.
American Michael Weiss appears to have not benefited from the secret computer judging selection of which marks counted, as he now sits in fifth place with marks that ranged from 5.0 to 5.7 for technical merit and from 5.1 to 5.7 for presentation. Don Laws, who coaches Weiss said," Random judging can hurt people as well as help people. That program wasn't a 5.1 program."
Weiss two-footed his opening quad toe loop and then completed a triple toe loop. He landed his triple Axel in combination and but doubled it as a solo jump. He fell on his final triple flip but landed six other triples. 'I was shocked and dismayed as normally I always hit that jump but I will use the energy and aggression for the short program. I have been doing the quad on one foot pretty consistently in practice and my practices here have been going well," said Weiss.
He skated his "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" program with good artistic interpretation. Zhang and Weiss find themselves skating in the second to last groups for the short program round.
Referee Mr. Guenther TEICHMANN
Assistant Referee Mr. Markus GERMANN
Emanuel Sandhu of Canada currently leads despite a fall on his opening triple Axel after skating the rest of his bluesy techno program clean with seven triples and a quad toe loop. "I am more than proud of this program. After the fall on the triple Axel at the beginning I pulled myself together. Now I am in first position and I am very happy with that," he said. His scores ranged from 5.5 to 5.8 for technical merit and from 5.2 to 5.7 for presentation and a 0.4 factored placement.
His neon pink and black flamboyant costume was typical for Sandhu with its unusual flair and design. His program music included three music selections, "Ninkov Latora by Violaine Corradi, "Slow & Sassy" by Harry Mancini, and "Take California" by The Propeller Heads. "At the end I really had to fight, but because of my conditioning I could do the last two triple-triples," said Sandhu.
Brian Joubert of France skated to second place for a 0.8 factored placement with his "Matrix" soundtrack program. "I planned to do just one quad (toe loop) today. I just wanted to be in the top three in qualifying. One quad was the minimum though, and if you want a medal, you need two," said Joubert.
This current 2004 European champion wants to follow the same strategy he did for that Budapest, Hungary competition while competing here in Dortmund. "I wanted to do the same thing as at Europeans. I wanted to save strength and I didnít want to give everything. I felt this (qualifying program) was better than at Europeans because it was more precise, but of course it was not the maximum yet. There was no triple Ė triple combination and no quad Ė triple, I held back a little. Now things will get serious with the short program," said Joubert.
According to Joubert, his triple Lutz and triple lift felt stiff, probably because of the stress he felt today in this competition.
Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland who performs two different programs for his free skates here and today performed to "Gypsy Dance" by E. Marton. His technical merit marks ranged from 5.2 to 56 and his presentation marks range from 5.3 to 5.7. "Since I have been practicing here in Dortmund Iíve had problems with my quad and my triple Axel. The important thing is to have patience and a lot of self confidence," said Lambiel.
The USAís Johnny Weir was no longer on his planned German "vacation" today as the enormity of competing at worlds for the first time kicked in and he dealt with nerves and fatigue in this morningís competition when he competed at 11:10 AM. "I got in Thursday and had no jet lag. Iím very tired. I practiced at 6:35 AM this morning and got up at 5:30 AM. I am not used to skating this early or getting up so early. I tried to take a nap for an hour after practice but I couldnít sleep. Iím glad I pushed though it today. It wasnít the best I could do but it was a good start," explained Weir.
He and his long-time coach Priscilla Hill decided this morning not to include the quad in his program. "Hopefully by Thursday," he said. Hill said of her student, " He was nervous. It started to him yesterday when he realized just where he was. I am proud of him for doing as well as he could today and fighting through the program," said Hill.
American teammate, Matt Savoie makes his third trip to a World Championship but a sore knee hampers him. It is the same knee that had surgery on April 30. It is not re-injured according to his coach but he is skating through pain here and getting medical treatments here from two U.S. team doctors, Dr. Roger Kruse and Dr. Scott Nadler to help numb and relieve it. "Right now I am just trying to get through it. This season has given me anything to have loftier goals than that so I had no placement expectations," said Savoie.
He fell on his triple Axel coming out of a spread eagle after a slight bobble before entering the spread eagle but landed five triples in his program. He added in another solo Lutz but doubled the attempt.
"The travel here combined with the time off prior to Fridayís practice aggravated his knee," said his long time coach, Linda Branon. Savoie also said, "The knee is feeling much worse than it has before. I think some of the intense training we did prior to worlds may have
It will be extremely difficult for the American menís team to keep 3 spots for the 2005 World Championships after todayís qualifying rounds but it is not impossible. Currently Johnny Weir sits in 14th place, Matt Savoie finishes in 20th place when you combine both groups and Michael Weiss is in 10th place. They need 13 points from the two top American finishers to keep three spots and 28 points for two spots in 2005.
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