2007 Skate America
By Sandra Stevenson
(1) 59.24 (30.40 + 28.84) KIMMIE MEISSNER, who skated to Peter
Gabrielís The Feeling Begins, swept into a 2.66 lead over the
woman who replaced her as world champion, Miki Ando. Meissnerís
technical score was only 0.30 more than her Japanese rival and she earned
1.36 more for components. Andoís fall lost her another point.
The change foot combination spin which followed was Level 3 and also earned an additional +0.30 GoE. The next move, her double Axel, earned +0.40 over the base value as did her Level 4 flying sit spin. Although her final move, the straight line sequence earned +0.80, the specialists deemed it only Level 1.
Meissner is in a difficult position. There was no pressure on her in Calgary at the 2006 world championships. She had done extremely well in the Olympics, finishing sixth, and, feeling no pressure, she went on to win, in glorious fashion, the world title. No one expected that but no one disputed that she was clearly the best.
That meant, however, a lot of pressure on her for last season. She made a huge stride forward, winning the US title. At worlds, she didnít skate badly, but the Japanese had raised the bar, and Meissner finished fourth. Then came discussions with coach Pam Gregory of what should be done, analyzing and rehashing possibilities of what must take place if she is to both improve and get her crown back.
Itís been a case of two steps forward and one step back. Thatís a lot for young shoulders to handle, especially since she is a freshman taking nine credits at the University of Delaware. She only turned 18 on October 4.
One thing is definitely true. She has an excellent attitude and a very down-to-earth approach to competition. Before the event, she said that she was really looking forward to the competition. "It really pushes me a lot - knowing the other competitors work very hard, as well, and that everyone is going after the same thing. I want to keep an eye on them and see what they all are doing. You can rate your competition and, even better, I always love when the best competitors are there."
(2) 56.58 (30.10 + 27.48 - 1.0) Last yearís Skate America winner, MIKI ANDO is in that precarious perch where Meissner was last year, sitting at the top with everyone aiming at her, their training fueled by their hopes of beating the world champion. Her short program music is Saint Saensí Samson and Delilah. Itís been used by many skaters throughout the years because itís powerful and inspiring to both skaters and judges.
Skating last, dressed in purple with pink trim, Ando began with a triple Lutz originally meant to be combined with a triple loop but which she changed to a double. The combination earned +0.40 over the base value. Her following triple flip earned the base value but nothing extra. Her Level 1 layback spin was awarded +0.40 GoE and the double Axel, which came next, +6.0.
Andoís spiral sequence was Level 4 with an added 0.80 GoE. Her flying sit gained an addition +0.30 GoE. Then came her step sequence. She was putting every ounce of energy into the move but tripped and it looked like a nasty fall. But she sprang back up and gave it her all. Nevertheless, the fall resulted in a Level 1 with a -1 GoE. Her final move, a change foot combination spin earned +0.60 GoE.
Ando, who will turn 20 on December 18, changed instructors after her Olympic fiasco, in which she was 15th. Nikolai Morozov regenerated her, lifting her up from despair to the high of victory. Now she believes in him absolutely. Morozov is both coach and choreographer. "Some skaters like a great of input into their routines but not Miki. She wants me to do everything." She now trains in Hackensack, NJ, but is looked after by a previous coach, Yuka Mona, when she is back home in Japan.
(3) 56.48 (30.20 + 26.28) As did Mao Asada two seasons ago, CAROLINE ZHANG, who turned 14 on May 20, is making her Senior International debut in the Grand Prix Series even though she is too young to be entered for the World Senior Championships in GŲteborg, Sweden, next March. (The Sr GP have a minimum age that is a year earlier.)
The 4í11" phenom presented a Spanish gypsy number to music by Ray de Tone, dressed in white with black and silver trim. To the uninitiated, the world junior champion but runner-up for the U.S. junior title to Mirai Nagasu, looked sensational. But her opening combination of triple flip to triple toe had the first jump downgraded to double and -1.20 GoE taken off the lower base value.
In the triple Lutz, the leg she used to toe pick in the entry, really flies high and wild. She was stamped with an "e" for wrong edge take off and -1.40 was taken off the base value of 6.00. Her first spin, a flying sit, was awarded Level 3 with +0.20 GoE. She had a graceful outside spread into her double Axel which also earned +0.20 GoE. The second spin, the change foot combination, gained +0.40. Her step sequence was Level 2 and also gained +0.40. Her spirals, which are sensational, gained Level 4 and +1.60. She concluded the routine with her fabulous layback which includes a unique "oyster" position which only she does. She received Level 3 and +1.40
Zhang, who says she was inspired by Michelle Kwan, is trained in Kwanís rink in Artesia by Mingzhu Li, who developed the first and only Chinese woman to win a singles world title (1985) and two Olympic bronze medals (1994 and 1998), Chen Lu.
Recently a Japanese television camera squatted outside the Zhangís home, but Li would not let them film. She explained to an American reporter that, "Right now we want to see how she handles everything. The plan is to give her a little bit more, a little bit more. We donít want to throw everything at her all at once. This is a long term project."
Word of Zhangís stunning abilities spread after her dazzling display in her first international, a Junior Grand Prix in Mexico City in 2006. She won that event by a record margin of more than 50 points over the second placed competitor.
Earlier this month, Zhang was chosen for a made-for-television U.S. v. Japan invitational in Yokohama, Japan, in a similar format to that used in Cincinnati last season. Zhang skated just the short program finishing second to Mao Asada but more than ten points ahead of the world champion, Miki Ando, who had a bad day.
(4) 47.66 (22.70 + 24.96) Can EMILY HUGHES have it all? The 18 year old younger sister Sarah, the 2002 Olympic champion, is a freshman at Harvard which necessitated coaching changes. Instead of her career-long mentor Bonni Retzkin, she is now being trained by Mark Mitchell and Peter Johansson. This is her first competitive appearance since she finished ninth in the world championship in March.
That standing was certainly good but it was one place lower than the previous year and a further one place from the incredible seventh at the Olympics. Her showing today was set to George Gershwinís I Got Rhythm. Skating in a sleeveless red creation, she began with a triple flip which was downgraded as under-rotated as was her following move, the combination of triple Lutz to double toe.
Her third move, a Level 4 flying sit gained the base value but her double Axel had -0.16 taken off the base value. The Level 4 spirals gained +0.60 and the Level 2 straight line steps +0.30. Her great layback spin was a Level 4 with +0.50 and the final move, a Level 3 change foot combination spin, gained +0.20.
Hughes was second to Meissner in the US championships and feels that if she hadnít fallen, she would have won. So, despite her educational commitments, she wants another stab at getting the title.
(5) 46.82 (24.90+21.92) MAI ASADA, who turned 19 on July 17, is the older sister of Mao. She has been ranked eighth in Japan for the past two seasons. She gave a soft, delicate, delightful showing to Tchaikovskyís well known Romeo and Juliet which was choreographed by Tatiana Tarasova.
She took a while to settle into the ice, however. The first jump of her combination, a triple Lutz was saddled with an "e" for the wrong edge takeoff and the second jump, a double toe was downgraded. Her triple flip also got a substantial deduction of -1.60 GoE. All her other moves were awarded positive GoEs. Her spirals were Level 4. Her closing spin, the change foot combination, was a Level 3 but her layback spin and the straight line steps were Level 2 and her flying sit only a Level 1.
Both Mai and Mao train in Lake Arrowhead, CA, although the area around that rink is currently being subjected to smoke from the nearby fires. Mai is now trained by Nadezhda Kanaeva. She was sixth in last yearís Skate America.
(6) 46.04 (25.52+20.52) MIRA LEUNG, who trains in Burnaby, a suburb of Vancouver where the next Olympics will be, skated to Henry Manciniís Variations on the Pink Panther Theme in a shocking pink dress. She did not know Mancini, a famed musician known all over the world, was Linda Fratianneís uncle. (Fratianne was twice world champion and the 1980 Olympic silver medal winner. When he offered to compose and perform music especially for Fratianne for the Olympics, her coach, Frank Carroll, nixed the deal fearing the possibility that the music might not be suitable and they would be too embarrassed to tell him that.)
Leung gave a peppy, audience friendly showing but was slammed. She executed a triple Lutz to double loop but received a minus 1.2 Grade of Execution. Her triple flip was given the base value but her double Axel was downgraded. She received a Level 4 for her spirals and Level 3 for her layback and flying camel spins but the circular steps were awarded only Level 2 and the change foot combination spin a Level 1.
Leung has been the runner-up for the Canadian title for the past two seasons. She has competed in the past two Skate Americas, placing sixth in Atlantic City and eighth in Hartford.
Leung finished 12th at the Olympics last year and 13th at the Calgary worlds but placed a disastrous 24th at the world championships in Tokyo. Afterwards, she revealed she had been experiencing terrible foot problems and disagreements with her coach, Joanne McLeod.
"Thatís all behind me now," says the 18 year old. "Iíve made some adjustments and everything is going well." She said sheís been working on her spins and believes theyíve improved."
(7) 45.16 (24.00+21.16) BINSHU XU, who was 19 on July 28, skated right after the second warmup to the soundtrack of Anastasia by Stephen Flanery. She is coached by Yazhuo Liu and the choreography done by Feng Huang.
Performing in a long sleeved blue creation, she stepped out of her triple Lutz that was to be her combination. She completed a triple flip although it was landed very close to the barrier. Her spins included some very flexible positions including a "Sasha Cohen" with one foot held high over her head.
Xu was born in Changchun and represents their skating club. However, she lives and trains in Beijing. She was the 2004 and 2006 Chinese champion but was second last season. She was seventh in the 2003 and 2005 world junior championships.
This is her first Skate America but she did the Canadian and Chinese Grand Prix events last season. Xu was eighth in Colorado Springs in the Four Continents Championships last season.
(8) 44.78 (24.30+20.48) ALEXANDRA IEVLEVA skated first, interpreting the evocative blues music, Harlem Nocturne, in a lime green outfit. She messed up her opening jump, a triple toe loop, meant to be her combination, but brought off the triple Salchow and double Axel. She had only one Level 4, her layback spin. However, although her straight line steps were only Level 2, the other elements which are given levels gained 3.
Ievleva was born in Kansk but trains in Moscow. A year ago, Zhanna Gromova, who taught Irina Slutskaya, took over her coaching. In her first senior season earlier this year, Ievleva, who turns 20 on Dec 9, was born placed 11th in the European championship.
(9) 44.64 (24.00+20.64) VALENTINA MARCHEI, a 21 year old born and bred in Milan, skated to music from Verdiís La Traviata including the gypsy chorus, We Are Zingarelle. Wearing a fushia, long sleeved dress, she soared into a triple Lutz only to put her hand down on landing which meant she could only get airborne for a single toe loop. The following double Axel got a -0.48 GoE. Her Level 3 change foot combination spin had a slight -0.12 taken off the base value but the rest of her elements obtained their base values including an excellent triple Salchow and her two Level 4s - the spirals and her flying sit spin.
Marchei, who also skated in last yearís Skate America finishing ninth, was Italian champion in 2004 but was dethroned finishing second the following year and then third last season. But she did well in 2007, finishing fifth in the European championships and 11th in the last worlds. She is trained by Christina Mauri and Pierre Trente and her choreography is conceived by Raffaella Cazzaniga and Corrado Giordani. Marchei was born with tough genes. Her father is a two-time Olympic marathoner.
(10) 41.58 (23.58 + 20.64 -1.0) TUGBA KARADEMIR, 22, skated to music from the movie, Oceanís Thirteen, which was choreographed by Kurt Browning. She is lovely skater but she had a bad day, falling on her initial jump, a triple flip, meant to be her combination. She stepped out of her triple Salchow. Two of her spins were Level 4 and the third, the layback, was a Level 3. She also gained Level 4 for her spirals.
Karademir is the first Turkish skater ever to enter the Winter Olympics. She and her parents left Ankara when she was 12 bound for Canada specifically so she could develop her skating. She is taught by Rob Tebby in Barrie, Ontario, and has competed in five world championships. Although this is her first Skate America, she made her Grand Prix debut last year competing in Victoria in her adopted country and in Japan.
(11) 38.30 (16.90 + 21.40) ELENE GEDEVANISHVILI skated to a selection of tunes from Cabaret. She was dressed appropriately in black and silver with elbow length gloves and a head band. Unfortunately, the triple Lutz meant to be the first jump in her combination went wrong and was downgraded to a double. She also was saddled with an "e" for the wrong takeoff edge for her flip. Then she singled her triple flip. Her spirals and straight line steps were only Level 1. Her layback and cha
The now 17 year old, who made such a stunning impression in the short program at the Olympics (though she dropped to 10th overall), has gone through some bad times and one wonders if she can climb back.
Last year her mother was deported from Moscow, where her daughter was training, back to Tblisi in Georgia due to visa irregularities. In her home country, Gedevanishvili found very little ice time and the Georgian Skating Association sent the family to the United States on Christmas Day to help prepare the talented youngster for the European championships under Galina Zmievskaia in New Jersey.
However, suffering from growth problems, she dropped from fifth in 2006 to eighth in Europeans and from 14th at the 2006 worlds to 17th this year. This summer she moved to the Hackensack Ice House where she is trained by Roman Serov. Nikolai Morozov does her choreography.
Many fans are puzzled by the latest ISU development of penalizing flips and Lutzes in which the skater changes to an incorrect edge before the takeoff. The correct takeoff edge for the flip is back inside plus toe and back outside plus toe for the Lutz. Once the Technical Specialist has fed in the dreaded "e" into the computer, which shows up on the Judgesí input screens, the judges must penalize that skater with a range of -1 to -3, depending on how long the skater was on the incorrect edge. Because this is the first season this penalty has incorporated, some judges have misinterpreted the rule. They reason that because other aspects of the jump were so good, that should compensate for the error and the skater should get the base value. But that is wrong. Once an "e" has been punched into the computer, no mark above -1 should be given. The penalty is difficult to appreciate because the change of edge can often be seen only with the benefit of replay of video tape. What looks great, sometimes is flawed.
(1) Meissner won but she was second in the free to Ando. "Thank goodness for the short program," she said after presenting her new program to Nessun Dorma from Pucciniís opera Turandot. "It means a lot to me to win. Itís the first time Iíve won a Grand Prix event so Iím proud of that. I was second in Skate America last year. Itís the first time Iíve heard the national anthem played for me since worlds."
Meissner won by 1.34 points. The routine is a replacement. She had worked hard with David Wilson on a free program but just did not feel comfortable with it. That happens even with the best choreographers. And it was scrapped for another.
Dressed in deep maroon with a red underskirt and gold adornments, she began with a triple flip to triple toe loop but the second jump was downgraded. "I noticed the Technical Specialists are being very strict on everybody," Meissner noted. However, her second move, a triple Lutz, was excellent and rated a +1.0 GoE. Her spirals have definitely improved and she gained Level 4. But she stepped out of her triple Salchow, which drew a sympathetic "Oooh!" from the audience and a -2.0 from the judging panel. Her flying sit spin was Level 4 with a +0.30 but her Level 3 sit spin had a -0.12. Then another whammy! She singled her second triple Lutz which was meant to be a combination. The following triple loop was downgraded but she kept fighting and the flying camel spin was awarded Level 4. Her combination of double Axel to double toe to double loop was solid and received not only the 10% for being in the second half of the routine but also a +0.20. The straight line steps were Level 2 but her final double axel incurred a slight negative (Ė0.16). Her final move was a Level 4 change foot combination spin.
It was certainly not one of Meissnerís better programs but it is early in the season and holds promise for the future. "I have to work on my stamina before my next Grand Prix," she admitted. She will compete again in Paris.
(2) Ando has become one of the very long line of skaters to interpret the fiery, doomed gypsy Carmen. Dressed appropriately in black and red, she has enough presence on the ice to do justice to the character. But Zhang was a hard act to follow and Ando made several errors.
Andoís opening move, a triple Lutz, which she combined with a double loop, was downgraded. "I am still having problems with my shoulder," Ando said. "Iím not yet trying a triple-triple. Maybe at the NHK (her next Grand Prix, which is in Japan)."
Her second move, a triple Salchow, was good enough for a +0.20 GoE. But then came a single flip. Her combination spin and spirals were Level 4 but the following triple loop was landed only with a struggle and was saddled with a -0.80. However, she then brought off a triple Lutz which earned +0.40 GoE. The triple toe combined with two double loops earned the base value and a double Axel +0.20. Then there was a Level 3 flying combination spin, Level 2 steps, Level 3 change foot combination spin and her final move a Level 1 layback. "I get Level 1 because I canít do a Biellmann because of my back," Ando explained.
(3) It may not have been flawless, but Zhangís four minutes were mesmerizing and she was undoubtedly the star of the event. "Before I was aiming for a top six finish so I am very pleased with the bronze," Zhang said. The routine seemed to flash by. At the end, the less than three thousand enthusiastic crowd gave her a standing ovation and threw many flowers on the ice. Even a passing freight train hooted through the arena walls.
It was a privilege to witness this talented youngsterís senior ISU debut. She finished third in both sections and 9.54 points below Ando. The problem was that five of her jumps were deemed under-rotated: both jumps in her opening combination of triple flip to triple toe, a triple Salchow, a triple loop which was combined with a double toe and double loop, and her second triple Lutz.
She did credit for her first triple Lutz which was combined with a double toe, a double Axel and her second triple flip. Even her fantastic spirals got only Level 1 because she did not hold the beautiful positions for the required three seconds.
The routine was set to Ave Maria. She wore a white and pale blue outfit. When Barbara Ann Scott, the 1948 Olympic champion, first gave an exhibition to this lovely piece, some thought it was sacrilegious. How times have changed!
(4) Hughes picked Carmina Burana. The black dress she wore was muted with a galaxy of sparkles. She is a strong, athletic skater and the powerful music suited her. She was fourth in the short and held onto that position despite a fifth place in the free. She finished a substantial 12.85 behind Zhang and just 1.36 ahead of Leung.
Hughes began with a triple flip to double toe. She struggled to hold the landing on the first jump and that cost her -0.80. She singled next move meant to be a triple Lutz and her following jump, a triple Salchow was downgraded. Her flying sit spin was Level 3 and the layback Level 4. The triple Salchow she then presented was dumped with a -1.0 GoE but the following triple toe to double toe gained +0.20. Her spiral sequence was Level 4 and the change foot combination spin Level 3. She then executed a base level triple toe but her step sequence was only Level 1. She finished with a good double Axel and a Level 4 combination spin.
(5) First on after the second warm-up, Leung performed to music from Rachmaninovís No. 2 & 3 Piano Concertos, dressed in black and white with only one sleeve. She began with a triple Lutz which had a two footed landing and was down graded. She didnít attempt the second jump of that planned combination which was meant to be a triple loop. She followed that with a triple flip which earned a slight positive (+0.20) and an easy triple Salchow (+0.40).
After Level 4 combination and Level 3 layback spins, and Level 4 spirals, she did a base value triple toe loop. Her double Axel to double toe to single loop was a bit of a mess and it was saddled with a negative (Ė0.80). She stepped out of her second triple flip which was downgraded but then wisely improvised and added a double loop to her second triple Lutz. That move gained full base value. She finished with a Level 3 flying camel spin, Level 2 straight line steps and Level 2 change foot combination spin.
(6) Gedevanishvili was first to free skate. Skating to Pretty Story by Francis Li in a red dress with gold trim, she gave a showing that was better than the short program but still very flawed. Nevertheless she gained sixth place in this section which pulled her up to sixth overall.
She began well receiving the base level for her first element, a triple Lutz, but then singled a flip into a double toe, which was given and "e" for wrong take-off edge. Her combination spin and spiral sequence, which includes a very interesting held skate in a high kick position in which she changed hold from one hand to the other, were both Level 4. She singled her Lutz and the second jump in a double Axel to triple toe was down graded. She completed a triple Salchow and a triple toe to two double toes which both earned the base value. Then came a double Axel. Her flying sit spin and straight line steps were only Level 1. The last two moves were a Level 3 change foot combination spin and a Level 1 layback.
(7) Ievleva rose one place to seventh. She skated to Prokofievís music for the ballet The Stone Flower wearing black tights and bootcovers with a skirt made of strips of different lengths of ribbon. Her hair was in a pigtail. She began well with a good combination of triple and double toe loops. But the following triple loop was given a -0.60 GoE and her triple Lutz was downgraded. Her first triple Salchow earned base value but she fell on the second which was downgraded. She earned only one Level 4, which was for her combination spin. Her spirals and her change foot combination spin were Level 3 but her flying camel spin was Level 2 and her final move, the circular steps, were only Level 1.
(8) Asada dropped from fifth to eighth with a free which was only ninth best. She skated to Un Ange Passe (An angel passes by) by Alain Lefevre, skating in light and dark shades of blue trimmed with silver with small blue chiffon wings flowing from her wrists. She is an extremely graceful skater but seemed to be holding back.
Her first move was meant to be a combination but the triple Lutz was two footed and she did not attempt the second jump. It received a -1.60 GoE and it was given an "e" for wrong take-off edge. Likewise, in her second jumping pass, she did only the triple flip which was given a -0.60. The triple Salchow which followed was downgraded as was her second triple Lutz on which she fell. She doubled her second triple flip.
(9) Karademir was eighth in the free which pulled her up a place to ninth. She performed to the soundtrack of Naqoyqatsi by Philip Glass in a sleeveless black dress trimmed with silver. She had a tentative start, and had to execute a double three between her opening move a combination of triple and double toe loops. Then she singled her planned triple flip which was given an "e". She executed a good triple Salchow but her second triple toe was downgraded. Her two double Axels gained the base value. She received Level 4 for three of her four spins and her spirals but the circular steps were only Level 1.
(10) Marchei dropped a place to tenth. She interpreted the evocative The Falling Leaves dressed in a sleeveless blue creation. She put her hand down on her opening move, a triple Lutz and did not do the planned second jump, a double toe. She immediately followed that with a second triple Lutz and added the double toe to that. Marchei also had to add a double three turn to save the landing of her double Axel. Both her triple Salchows were downgraded and she fell on the first which seemed to drain her and the rest of the program lacked energy. She was given a negative GoE for eight of her 13 moves.
(11) Xu chose music from the soundtrack to Princess Mononoke by Joe Hisaishi. Attired in a forest green with a yellow trim, long sleeved dress, she stepped out of her first jump, a triple Lutz. She soared through her next move, a double Axel to triple toe but then fell on a triple flip. She accomplished a triple loop but then singled her second triple Lutz and fell again on her second triple flip.
2007 Skate America Ladies Medalists
Return to title page