By Alexandra Stevenson
All photos Copyright 2006 by George S. Rossano
"I’m in awe of her," said Olympic silver medalist, Brian Orser. "They approached me to be her main coach but I’m not ready to take on that commitment. Bun-Sun Park will remain her main coach. However, she will be spending a lot of time in Canada in Toronto. A skater of that level needs a lot of looking after. She needs the package. She needs massages. She needs trainers that make sure she avoids injury and is at her peak when she needs to be." Kim, who is from Seoul, South Korea, turned 16 on September 5. She is the world junior champion, having dethroned Japan’s Mao Asada earlier this year. This was her first Senior Grand Prix.
In second place, 4.16 marks behind Kim, is the very experienced Japanese, Fumie Suguri, who is coached by Nobuo Sato. She drew to skate last of the 12 women and performed to Bolero. "I chose the music because I liked it and only afterwards realized how associated it is with Torvill & Dean, and then I thought, ‘Wow’, my program better be good." Suguri, who will be 26 on December 31, was fourth in the Olympics and has won three medals at the world championships. She gained bronze in 2002 and 2003 and the silver in 2006. She is thinking of continuing until 2010 but said, "I will be so old then." Her only Level 4 element was her spiral sequence. One of her spins, the Level 3 flying sit spin, got a very slight (-0.06) GoE and the change foot combination spin was only Level 2. Her jump combination was triple Lutz to double toe loop. She had to strain to hold the double Axel.
Susanna Pöykiö from Finland is third only 0.90 behind Suguri. Pöykiö, who is 24, is from Oulu in Finland and was 13th in the Olympics. She has been to the world championships four times placing 11th in 2002, 12th in 2004, 8th in 2005 and 9th in 2006. She used One by Apocalyptica dressed in black and silver. Her spiral sequence and change foot combination spin were Level 4 but she got slight negative GoEs on her triple flip, the Level 2 layback spin, and Level 2 flying sit.
Alissa Czisny, the 19 year old who is ranked seventh in the U.S., won this event last year. She has unmatched, beautiful positions on her spirals which received Level 4 as did two of her spins, the flying sit and change foot combination. The layback spin was Level 3 and the straight line step sequence Level 2. She singled and fell on her Lutz. The flying sit and layback each received eight +2 and two +1 GoEs. Her music is Prelude and Quaddaka by Jesse Cook She lies 1.50 behind Pöykiö and is only 0.52 ahead of Rochette.
Joannie Rochette, 20, the twice Canadian champion, performed in pink to Little Wing by Jimmy Hendrix. She made a big impression placing fifth in the Olympics though she was only seventh in her fourth appearance in worlds a short time later in Calgary. In Victoria she only did two and a half rotations on her triple Lutz, coming down forward and landing on two feet. Rochette received two Level 4’s – for her flying sit spin and her spirals. She received 3 for the three other moves which are given a level.
Mira Leung, who comes from Vancouver and ranks second in Canada, skated to Freedom. She doesn’t have the long, lean body which is necessary to look really artistic but she skated with determination and received base level or better for all eight elements. The 17 year old had been training with Joanne McLeod but recently changed to Christine McBeth. Her combination was triple Lutz to double loop. Four of her elements were Level 3. The circular step sequence was only Level 1. She lies a significant 3.46 marks behind Rochette and 3.32 ahead of China’s Xu.
Binshu Xu is tiny. She’s 18 but looks far younger. She is from Changchun but trains in Beijing. Her coach is Yazhuo Liu. She performed to Lee Loos Theme by Maksim Mrvica. The choreography was done by the 1995 world champion Chen Lu. She has competed three times in the world junior championships placing seventh in 2003 and 2005 and ninth in 2004. Her triple Lutz was big but the combined double toe loop very small. She received negative GoEs on her triple flip and the change foot combination spin. She got her only Level 4 for her spiral sequence in which she changed edge in the held Biellmann position and then did a third position without putting her foot down. She was a definite audience pleaser.
Canadian Leslie Hawker, who is the oldest in a
family of ten children, is in eighth place. The 25 year old trains with
Richard Callaghan. She ranks third in Canada. After interpreting Destiny
by Giovanni, she said, "I’m really disappointed that I singled the
flip." She gained Level 4 for her spiral sequence and the change foot
combination spin but only Level 1 for her layback. She lies 3.80 points
behind Xu and only 0.88 ahead of Karademir.
Katy Taylor lies 0.98 behind Karademir. Skating in black and white with blue trim, she performed a snappy routine with great potential to Happy Feet by John Altman. The 17 year old from Houston, who was fourth in the last U.S. Championship and is the Four Continents Champion appears to be going through a very sticky patch with her jumps. She was 11th in last week’s Skate America. She messed up her flip which turned into a double. She got credit for the triple Lutz to double toe but with a -0.40 GoE. The double Axel was poor and was given -1.40 GoE. Her spiral sequence was only Level 1. The layback and circular steps were Level 2. Her change foot combination spin was Level 3 and the flying sit Level 4.
Both Taylor and Yoshie Onda got the same segment score. The tie was broken with 10th place going to Taylor on the basis of her better technical score (21.84 to 20.72). Onda, who will be 24 on December 13, trains with Josee Chouinard in Toronto. She has competed at senior level for many years and is currently ranked fourth in Japan. She was 11th in the 2006 world championships. Wearing a beautiful dark teal outfit, she skated to Haru no Umi by Miyagi Kiyoko. She began with a poor triple Lutz to double toe which received -2.20 GoE. That was followed by a belly flop fall on an attempted triple flip which was downgraded to double. Her flying sit spin and circular steps were both only Level 1, and her spirals and layback spin only Level 2. However, her final move, the change foot combination spin was Level 4.
Alisa Drei, 28, lies 2.70 points behind Onda in 12th. The Russian, who moved to Finland and now represents that country, performed to Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. She tried a combination of triple toes but fell on the second one. Then she doubled her planned triple loop. Her double Axel got -1.14 GoE. Her layback and circular steps were only Level 1. Her spirals and flying sit spin were Level 2. However, her change foot combination spin was Level 4. Drei placed 12th in the world championship in 2003 but has not made the team since then.
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Dressed in black and gold, Rochette, who drew to skate immediately after Kim, opened with some very expressive poses to her music, Don Juan by Felix Gray. The crowd exploded when she delivered triple flip-double toe-double loop (which was done so well it earned a +1 GoE) quickly followed by a good triple Lutz to double toe (+0.60). This was the person the crowd had come to see and it was beginning to look like she might redeem herself after the fifth place in the short program. There was a collective intake of breath, however, when she singled her loop but the Level 4 combination spin calmed the crowd’s apprehension. The straight line steps (Level 3) got them moving with the music. The applause for her triple flip, executed at the point where the skater starts getting the 10% bonus was huge but got even louder as she flew through a double Axel to triple toe loop sequence, a Level 4 change foot sit spin, and beautiful spirals which received – you guessed it – Level 4. There was some momentary doubt when she two footed her second triple Lutz but a very good triple Salchow brought back the audience’s cheers. She finished with two Level 4 spins, a change foot combination and a flying sit. Her four minutes were over and the crowd went wild. They stood up waving flags, stomping their feet and throwing items on the ice. The routine may not have been perfect but it was graceful, "womanly" skating, the "old-fashioned" type the audience really enjoyed. There was an even greater crescendo of applause when they learned the blonde had gone into the lead. She was smiling as she waited for the marks, her hair bouncing in a ponytail tied with a flowered band. Rochette won the free skate by 8.02 points and the overall gold by 5.10, a more than substantial margin. "The crowd was really, really loud and I was SO nervous," said Rochette. "I tried not to be afraid of making a mistake."
Suguri took second place in both sections and said she was pleased with her silver. (The medals were actually all crystal as they were at the 1992 Olympic Games. They looked somewhat strange because you could see right through them so, from some angles, it appeared the skaters were wearing neck ribbons with nothing attached to them.) Suguri warmed up in white gloves which didn’t complement her purple and lavender outfit with its orange chiffon skirt, drew to skate first of the top six. Her music was listed as Song of Spirits, a Fantasia by Welsh composer Karl Jenkins, who has become a musical superstar in Japan. I thought I heard vocalists singing "No One Shall Die" but Fumie assured me this was not the case. "It’s not fair," she explained in excellent English spoken with a charmingly soft voice. The dancers can use vocals but it’s not allowed for the singles. Mr. Jenkins explained that the voices are used as instruments, not as vocals. I have a written statement from him documenting that." By chance, Jenkins was also in this beautiful city because the Victoria Philharmonic Choir was giving his Requiem its Canadian premier at the University of Victoria, the day after Skate Canada concluded. Suguri and Jenkins ran into each other at the hotel where they were both staying, the storied Fairmont Empress Hotel, world famous for its British "afternoon teas". "I was so surprised," said Suguri. "My agent said he was in Canada but I never thought he’d be in Victoria. I enjoyed our meeting. He does a lot of healing music and that’s why the Japanese people like him."
None of Suguri’s elements earned less than base value. She began with a very nice triple Lutz to double toe. A very high triple flip followed which earned +1GoE. Then she executed a good triple toe, Level 4 change foot combination spin, and Level 3 flying spin. A second triple Lutz was executed late enough for the "bonus" to be earned followed by triple flip to double toe, Level 4 spirals, a double Axel and a Level 3 flying sit spin. Then, tiring, she did an Axel to double toe sequence and Level 2 straight line steps. Her final change foot combination spin was only Level 1.
Kim followed Suguri, performing in a very pale blue sleeveless outfit to The Lark Ascending. She could not equal her magnificent short program. Her fourth in the free dropped her out of the lead but she still won the bronze medal, only 0.28 behind Suguri. The routine, choreographed by David Wilson, began very well with a combination of triple flip to triple toe loop earning a +1.60 GoE which meant this move alone gave her 11.10 points. That was followed by a double Axel, which earned +1.0 GoE because the landing was with folded arms in the Don Jackson fashion, and a +0.60 Level 4 layback. However, her triple Salchow went awry. She stepped out of the landing resulting in a minus 2 GoE. Kim got back in stride with a Level 4 camel spin, Level 3 straight line steps, and, following the bonus time mark, a +1.20 GoE triple Lutz. She then appeared to tire. A Level 3 flying sit spin earned a slight negative GoE. A three jump combination disintegrated into two with the triple toe loop after the double Axel a mess. It was down graded and given a GoE of -1.68. She then fell on a triple Lutz. She had a problem holding the first Biellmann position in her spiral sequence which was Level 3 but received a -0.42GoE. She finished with a double Axel which gained the 3.30 base value plus 10% bonus (making 3.63) and a good Level 4 change foot combination spin. Sitting with her in the Kiss & Cry area was her coach, Bun-Sun Park, and Brian Orser.
Czisny was third in the free skate but stayed fourth overall. It was a beautiful if imperfect routine, skated to excerpts from the soundtrack of Sabrina. Skating in a sleeveless black number banded on the top by white, the 5’4" brunette opened with a good triple Lutz to double toe (+0.40GoE) but the following triple flip to double toe was messed up and got a -2GoE. Her Level 4 flying sit spin was good enough for two of the ten judges to punch in +2 but that was followed with a single loop. The audience loved her Level 4 flying camel but then came a slightly flawed triple flip. A double Axel and triple toe, to which she added an improvised double toe, were good. Then came a Level 3 straight line step sequence and her incomparable Level 4 spirals. She had a substantial lean in her second triple Lutz which was downgraded to double and given a slight minus (-0.24GoE). She won back the audience by concluding with a Level 3 layback and Level change foot combination spin. She looked disappointed by the scores.
Poykio dropped from third to fifth overall with a free that was ranked fifth best. Skating last, in light green with silver sparkles, and using music from the soundtrack Munich by John Williams, she began very well with two beautiful, very softly landed combinations, triple flip to double toe (+1.0GoE) and triple Lutz to double toe to double loop (+0.40GoE). Then came a triple Salchow (+0.80GoE) and a Level 4 death drop flying sit spin which received the base value (3.00). However, a planned triple loop became a single to double toe. The following combination spin was only Level 2. A double Axel received the base value but her Lutz was singled and a layback spin only Level 1. Her spiral sequence was Level 4. Her final jump was a base level triple toe. She finished with two Level 3 moves, a combination spin and straight line footwork.
Dressed in a turquoise kimono-inspired outfit with a gold dragon on the front, Leung skated right after the commotion that followed Rochette’s spectacular showing. She hung on to sixth place although she was seventh in the free skate. Her music was from the soundtrack of Terracotta Warriers with a center section to O My Beloved Father. She began with a triple flip and triple Lutz-double loop which both earned +0.20GoE. But her triple Salchow was downgraded to a double and her combination and layback spins were only Level 1. Her spiral sequence was Level 3 but the following triple toe was downgraded. Her double Axel to double toe gained the base value. The next two moves, flying camel and straight line steps were both Level 2. At the end there were huge cheers for her triple Lutz and a three jump combination of triple flip to double loop to double loop. Pumped up by the audience’s reaction, she closed with a Level 4 change foot combination spin which earned +0.50GoE. It was surprising to see someone from Canada, the country which probably knows most about the new system, presenting so many low level moves.
Onda, who placed next to last in the short program, jumped up to seventh overall with a sixth place in the free. She skated to music from the soundtrack of the movie The Red Violin, once used by Michelle Kwan, appropriately dressed in a sleeved, red creation. She created a great impression at the start with two good combinations, a triple Lutz to double toe (+1.00GoE) and triple flip to double toe (+0.40GoE), and a triple Salchow which received the base value. A Level 4 change foot combination spin had a slight negative (-0.12GoE). Her layback spin was only Level 1, but her spiral sequence was Level 3. She had a dicey landing on her triple loop (-1.00GoE) and she had to struggle hard to hold the landing of her second triple Lutz (-0.80GoE). Her second triple flip was good and her remaining four elements (Level 2 straight line step sequence, double Axel to triple toe loop sequence, Level 3 flying sit spin and Level 4 change foot combination spin), all earned their base value. She got a good reception but she isn’t really built to do super graceful numbers. Perhaps she would fare better with a peppier number.
Xu, skating to music from the soundtrack to Mulan wearing deep blue with pink trim outfit, dropped from seventh to eighth with an eighth ranked free skate. She began with a triple Lutz to double toe which earned the base value but then stepped out of the second move, a sequence of two triple toe loops and got -2.00GoE. That was followed with a very good triple loop, Level 2 flying camel spin, Level 1 circular steps, a sequence of two double Axels, and a Level 4 layback all of which earned base value or better (respectively +1.0; +0.20; BV; +0.60 and +0.7). She put her hand down on her second triple Lutz (-1.0GoE). Her triple Salchow earned base value. Her spiral sequence was only Level 1 and she leant so badly in the air on her last jump, a second triple flip, she couldn’t help but fall on the landing. Her last move was a Level 2 change foot combination which earned +0.10GoE despite the fact that she continued slightly past her music. It was a program that didn’t contain any emotion but, waiting for her marks, Xu looked so sorrowful.
Hawker, who drew to skate first, performed to the immensely poignant, bitter sweet Hymn to the Fallen, I’ll Be Seeing You In All the Old Familiar Places. She dropped a place to ninth with a free skate that was ranked ninth best. She began with a triple Lutz to double toe combination which earned its base value, 7.30, but then she received -1.20GoE for her triple flip which meant 1.20 was taken off its base value earning her only 4.30 points. A Level 3 combination spin and Level 4 spiral sequence both earned their base value (2.50 and 3.40) but, between those moves, she fell on a loop attempt which was downgraded to a double. At the beginning of the bonus time, she executed a good triple Lutz (+0.60GoE) and triple Salchow (+0.40GoE) but the Level 3 flying sit spin earned a small negative (-0.18GoE). Four of her final five moves (Level 3 flying camel, double Axel, a triple toe and Level 3 change foot combination spin) were all judged worthy of their base value (plus 10% bonus). The Level 2 straight line step sequence received a small positive (+0.20GoE).
Drei rose from last to tenth despite two falls (on a triple loop and downgraded triple flip) in a free that was ranked tenth best. Skating in blue to Richard Addinsel’s emotional Warsaw Concerto , she began well with a combination of two triple toes that earned +0.80 over base value and gave her 8.80 points. But her second move was a double Lutz. After her first fall, she did a Level 4 combination spin. A sequence of double Axel to triple Salchow was saddled with a -1.00GoE. Her layback spin earned base value but was only Level 2. After her second fall, she did a Level 3 flying sit spin and a Level 4 spiral sequence which both earned their base value. Her Salchow was only a double with -0.60GoE but her last three moves earned their base value, Level 2 straight line steps, double Axel and Level 4 change foot combination spin.
Karademir dropped from ninth to eleventh with an eleventh ranked free. She appeared a little overwhelmed by the occasion. (Her coach, Robert Tebby, said she looked like a innocent fawn caught in a hunter’s headlights.) Skating to Philip Glass’ soundtrack to Naqoyqatsi, she began with a lovely Level 4 change foot combination spin that earned +0.40 over the base value. But then she fell on a triple flip which was downgraded to double. She stepped out of her triple toe-double toe. She got another Level 4 for second spin, a flying camel combination. But then she fell on her triple Salchow and, right afterwards, again, on a triple toe loop. She presented two more Level 4 moves, an unusual change foot upright spin which received the base value and her spirals which were rewarded with +0.80. A double Axel to single toe was penalized with a -0.14. A downgraded triple Salchow and given a -0.60. Both her last moves gained the base value, circular steps that were only Level 1 and a Level 4 change foot combination spin.
Taylor, skating in pink to the well-loved Tchaikovsky music used for the Balanchine ballet, Theme and Variations, dropped from tenth to twelfth and last. Her jumps just seem to have completely vanished which must be devastating. She began with a triple flip (-0.40GoE), singled her double Axel, and got another -0.40 off for her flawed triple toe. After three Level 2 moves (change foot combination and layback spins and a spiral sequence), she did a single Lutz and a triple loop that was downgraded to a double. A Level 4 flying sit spin received base value but then she did a single flip. A combination spin was only Level 1 and her straight line steps Level 2. She fell on her final move, a downgraded triple Lutz.
2006 Skate Canada Ladies Medalists
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