Champions Series Final
18 - 20 December 1997
(Notes prepared from notes from Klaus Reinhold Kany and ISU press releases.)
Tara Lipinski gave two commanding performances. She was clean in the short and landed seven triples in the long, including her unique triple loop - triple loop. "I just pretend to be in practice and I skated for myself," said a delighted Lipinski. "Before our Nationals I only have a short break now but I'll spend Christmas in Detroit with my family." Her gold medal here marks her second consecutive Champions Series Final victory.
Tanja Szewczenko stepped out of triple Lutz in her combination (triple Lutz - double toe) in the short program. In the long program, however, she pressed Lipinski hard, and received two first-place ordinals. During the competition she was suffering from tonsillitis, and will have surgery to remove them next week. She landed seven triples in the long program which she described as " the best free program of my life."
Maria Butyrskaya skated a clean short landing triple Lutz - double toe loop, and triple loop. In the long she landed five triple, but two footed triple Salchow, two footed the double toe in a triple toe - double toe combination, and she did not attempt a triple flip.
In the short program Irina Slutskaya stepped out of the Lutz in triple Lutz - double toe and had a shaky landing on triple loop. In the long she landed five triples, including triple Lutz - double toe and triple flip - double toe. In both the short and long programs she included her signature double Biellmann spins.
Laetitia Hubert withdrew the day of the short program due to an ankle injury.
In the short program all the men all attempted programs of basically the same difficulty, with triple Axel - triple toe loop and triple Lutz. The top three all skated clean programs, with Elvis Stojko getting unanimous first place ordinals. He received four marks of 5.9 for required elements and two for presentation. Alexei Yagudin turned out of his combination and had a shaky landing on triple Lutz.
In the long program Kulik opened with an attempt at quad toe loop, but put both hands down on the jump. He then went on to land eight clean triples, including triple Axel - triple toe loop. "I'm more confident now," said Kulik. "It's experience and practice. I have a really good base in my free so even if I miss something, I have the confidence to go on."
Stojko also attempted quad toe loop, but fell on his attempt. He also landed eighth triples, including two triple-triple combinations; triple Axel - triple toe, and triple flip - triple toe. He doubled a Salchow, but followed it with a successful triple.
Todd Eldredge landed seven triple, which included the same two triple-triple combinations landed by Stojko. His eighth triple, a loop, was doubled. "That's the best I've skated so far this year," he said afterwards.
Alexei Yagudin landed his attempt at quad toe loop, plus eight triples. He too included triple Axel - triple toe and triple flip - triple toe combinations.
|1||Berezhnaya / Sikharulidze||RUS||2||1|
|2||Woetzel / Steuer||GER||1||2|
|3||Kazakova / Dmitriev||RUS||3||3|
|4||Shen / Zhao||CHN||4||4|
|5||Shishkova / Naumov||RUS||5||5|
In a convincing show of how far they have come in the past year, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze won the pairs title, beating out the current World Champions, and their training partners Kazakova and Dmitriev. "It's like a miracle that we won here, " said Berezhnaya. "I still can't believe it." They skated a good short, placing second; and in the long program landed triple toe loops, double Axel - double toe loop, throw triple Salchow, and throw triple loop. In their only error, a spectacular looking triple twist was landed on two feet.
Woetzel and Steuer skated a strong short program, but an injured Steuer had problems in the long program. On 8 December he was struck by the mirror of a moving car, injuring his arm and shoulder. The injury forced them to miss the German National Championships the week before the Series Final, and they had not skated through their full long program until the morning of the free skate. Not yet fully recovered, their throws and lifts suffered. Woetzel singled their side-by-side double Axels, throw triple toe was doubled, and throw double Axel was two footed.
Kazakova and Dmitriev placed third, as last minute substitutions for Eltsova and Bushkov who did not compete due to a groin injury to Bushkov. They skated a clean short, but in the long they both stepped out of triple toe loops and Kazakova stepped out of double Axel. They landed double Axel - double toe loop, triple twist, and throw triple Salchow.
Shen and Zhoa continue to skate well this season. In the short program Shen touched down on triple toe loop, but otherwise skated cleanly. In the long they landed triple twist, triple toe loops, throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow. Their lifts were described as excellent.
Shishkova and Naumov struggled. Shishkova missed triple toe loop in both the short and the long, and fell on throw triple toe. They landed double Axel - double toe loop, triple twist, and throw triple Salchow.
|1||Grishuk / Platov||RUS||1||1||1|
|2||Bourne / Kraatz||CAN||2||2||2|
|3||Anissina / Peizerat||FRA||3||3||3|
|4||Lobacheva / Averbukh||RUS||4||4||4|
|5||Fusar Poli / Margaglio||ITA||6||5||5|
|6||Punsalan / Swallow||USA||5||6||6|
Grishuk and Platov had a good compulsory dance (Silver Samba) but were hard pressed by Bourne and Kraatz who got three of seven first-place ordinals, and Anissina and Peizerat who got one. In the original dance they both fell, but high presentation marks kept them in first place for the OD. Some observers felt that Anissina and Peizerat should have won the OD, and that placing Grishuk and Platov first was scandalous. Others felt the difficulty of their dance more than made up for the fall, which introduced but a brief interruption into the program. Their free dance was very good, and has been revised since first unveiled, to bring it more in line with the rules. The French and Russian judges both gave perfect marks of 6.0/6.0 for their free dance. "We have changed a lot in our program since Paris and even since Japan," said Platov. "We skated very good. We are very happy we got four 6.0s." "This is our last season as amateurs," added Grishuk. "our program is really emotional. We have put a lot of expression and emotion from ourselves in." Both Grishuk and Platov and men's champion Ilia Kulik are coached by Tatiana Terasova.
Bourne and Kraatz had a very good CD, earning three first-place ordinals, one second, and three fourths. Their OD was well done but not outstanding. It earned ordinals ranging from first through fourth. Their "Riverdance" free dance has been reworked since November, and this time out received seven marks of 5.8.
Overall Anissina and Peizerat skated very well, and it was felt by some they should have won the OD. Their free dance to "Romeo and Juliet is very innovative, and includes Anissina lifting Peizerat twice in the program. They received one mark of 6.0, the first of their career.
Punsalan and Swallow skated without errors, but their dances were viewed as too easy (technically) compared to the other teams. Their sixth place finish behind Lobacheva and Averbukh; and Fusar Poli and Margaglio is troubling, and could be a bad omen for the Olympics and Worlds if they don't make some changes to beef-up their programs.
The buzz has it that ISU President Cinquanta has been pressuring the dance judges to introduce more movement into the dance placements, and that he is also keen on the team of Fusar Poli and Margaglio.
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