ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating: Skate America, Day Three

The Grand Prix of Figure Skating Skate America in Colorado Springs, Colorado (USA) continued Saturday with the Free Dance, the Men's and Ladies' Free Skating.

Ice Dancing, Free Dance

Saturday's competition started with the Free Dance. Shae-Lynn Bourne/Victor Kraatz of Canada took the gold medal, while Israel's Galit Chait/Sergei Sakhnovski and Margarita Drobiazko/Povilas Vanagas (LTU) finished with the silver and bronze medals, respectively. The couples presented a wide variety of styles and themes in their Free Dances. Bourne/Kraatz set their program to a mix of Michael Jackson's songs, including "Billie Jean", "Keep it in the Closet", "Smile", "Wanna be Startin' something" and "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough". The Canadians displayed difficult footwork and captured the character of the dance, especially in the beginning, but then they began to look tentative in some parts of the program, making a little mistake in the timing. "The whole week was very good. It was the first time we skated our compulsory, our original and our free dance. We have a great free dance, but we didn't skate it a 100 percent today", Bourne commented. "We made a slight error. We didn't skate it with great freedom."

Skating to Jewish Folk Music, Chait/Sakhnovski showed passion and speed. They received marks ranging from 5.3 to 5.6 for technical merit and from 5.5 to 5.7 for presentation and moved up one spot after the Compulsory and Original Dances. "We felt very good", Chait said. "I think we made the right choice", she continued with reference to their change of coaches earlier this year. "We improved our edge quality. It will get better, right now we're very happy with the progress we've made."

The Lithuanians presented a passionate Free Dance set to the song "Quelques Cris" by Johnny Halliday that contained innovative lifts and intricate footwork. Their marks went up to 5.5 for technical merit and up to 5.7 for presentation, but they dropped to third. "We are very happy with the way we've skated", Vanagas commented. "Today was our day, not the compulsory, not the OD, but today, it was."

While all Judges had Bourne/Kraatz first, they were divided on the following couples. The Israelis received four second place ordinals and three third place ordinals, while the Lithuanians had three second places, three third places and one fourth.

Tatiana Navka/Roman Kostomarov of Russia also went for a "groovy" routine to Michael Jackson songs and stayed in fourth overall, although he fell on a twizzle.

World Junior silver medallists, Tanith Belbin/Benjamin Agosto, skated a fast paced program entitled "The Plight of Sarajevo" that featured good step sequences and interesting lifts. They finished fifth.

Skate America was a point-scoring event for Bourne/Kraatz (12 points) and Drobiazko/Vanagas (7 points). Chait/Sakhnovki, however, had not named it as a scoring event. The Canadians will skate for points again next week at Skate Canada, which will also be the first scoring event for the Israeli couple.

Ladies, Free Program

In an interesting Ladies competition, four-time World Champion Michelle Kwan (USA) was able to fend off her teammate Sarah Hughes and Russia's Viktoria Volchkova to win Skate America for the sixth time in her career. Kwan, who was competing without a coach after she left Frank Carroll shortly before the competition, did not deliver an error-free program, but held herself together nonetheless. She opened her classical "Sheherazade" with a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination (instead of a planned triple-triple), followed by a triple Salchow and a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination before she lost steam and singled the Axel. Kwan recovered to land a triple flip, triple Lutz and triple toeloop, but she two-footed the triple loop. Her marks ranged from 5.4 to 5.8 for technical merit and from 5.6 to 5.8 for presentation. "I felt really strong", Kwan said. "I was a little disappointed about the triple-triple at the beginning. I was able to stand up tall and to skate through it (the program) with power."

2001 World bronze medallist, Sarah Hughes delivered a very lyrical program set to a selection of Sergei Rakhmaninov that featured six triples including a triple Salchow-triple loop combination, two double Axels, and nice spins. She received two first place ordinals and the remaining Judges placed her second. "I'm very happy. I can build on this performance and go from there", the 16-year-old commented. "This was one of my strongest performances ever."

Skating to the "Gone with the Wind" soundtrack, Volchkova struggled at the beginning of her program, doubling the Salchow and the Lutz. The three-time European bronze medallist then came back to land five triples. "At the beginning, I suddenly was nervous because I knew that I could medal here", the Muscovite explained. "After the mistakes, I thought I have nothing to loose and did my jumps." The Judges were divided over the Russian and Japan's Shizuka Arakawa, who came in fourth. Volchkova stayed ahead by a majority of three to four Judges.

Arakawa delivered a technically demanding program that contained seven triples including a triple Salchow-triple loop combination, but her jumps were low and she lost speed towards the end.

Sasha Cohen (USA) attempted a quadruple Salchow but popped it. Her program went downhill from that point on and she dropped from fourth to fifth place.

All three medallists had chosen Skate America as a scoring event. Kwan collected 12 points and will skate to score again at Skate Canada. Hughes has earned 9 points, and Volchkova now has 7. For both of these skaters, the Trophée Lalique will be their next point-scoring event.

Men, Free Program

In the Men's competition, Timothy Goebel (USA) won his second Skate America title in a row, with Japan's Takeshi Honda taking the silver medal and Alexander Abt (RUS) capturing the bronze.

Skating last, Goebel opened his program set to "An American in Paris" by Gershwin with a triple Lutz, followed by a solid quadruple Salchow-triple toeloop combination and triple Axel-double toeloop. He popped his attempted quadruple toeloop, but then nailed another quadruple Salchow, shortly after, before stumbling badly on a triple Axel and touching down with his hand on the triple flip. The 21-year old replaced his planned triple loop at the end of his program with a Salchow. "I felt tired", he explained. Goebel received marks ranging from 5.6 to 5.9 for technical merit and from 5.5 to 5.8 for presentation, and he collected all first place ordinals. Overall, Goebel was pleased with his performance. "It was a very comfortable program. I came very well prepared and was more relaxed. My scores really reflected my improvement in my artistry. I had a few mistakes", he admitted.

Honda presented an elegant and flowing Free Program to "Rhapsodia Cubana". He started with a triple flip out of footwork, but landed his quadruple toeloop forward and on two feet. The 2001 Four Continents silver medallist pulled himself together to produce five clean triples and a good step sequence to gain one spot in the final placement. "It was so hard to skate, with the altitude", Honda sighed. "I did a couple of mistakes, but I'm happy with my performance."

Abt, second after the Short Program, nailed a huge triple Axel-triple toeloop combination at the beginning of his routine but then two footed the quadruple toeloop and fell on the triple Lutz. Although he was fighting the altitude, the 25-year-old Russian managed to complete four more triples and strong spins. He lost to Honda by three to four Judges. "I could have done better, but generally I'm pleased with this as it was my first competition this year", Abt said. "It was very hard to skate up here, I was dying. I even was tired in the warm up." The Russian won his third bronze medal at Skate America after 1995 and 1997. The three medallists collected points in Colorado Springs: Goebel received 12, Honda has 9 and Abt 7 points. Goebel and Abt will be competing for points again at the Sparkassen Cup in Germany. Honda will be skating there as well, but has chosen the NHK Trophy as his second scoring event.

Skate America concludes on Sunday with the Exhibition Gala. Skate America was the first of six international qualifying events of the Grand Prix of Figure Skating series. Full standings will be published after each event and also made available directly on the ISU Internet site on


Ice Dance

FPl.	Name					Nat.	Points	C1	OD	FD

1	BOURNE Shae Lynne / KRAATZ Victor 	CAN	2.0	1	1	1
2	CHAIT Galit / SAKHNOVSKY Sergei 	ISR	5.0	3	3	2
3	DROBIAZKO Margarita / VANAGAS Povilas 	LTU	5.0	2	2	3
4	NAVKA Tatiana / KOSTOMAROV Roman 	RUS	8.0	4	4	4
5	BELBIN Tanith / AGOSTO Benjamin 	USA	10.0	5	5	5
6	WING Megan / LOWE Aaron 		CAN	12.4	7	6	6
7	SAURI Magali / STIFUNIN Michael 	FRA	13.6	6	7	7
8	JOSEPH Jessica / FORSYTH Brandon 	USA	16.0	8	8	8
9	VERNEKOHL Jill / KURAKIN Dmitri 	GER	18.0	9	9	9
10	TSUZUKI Nakako / FARKHOUTDINOV Rinat 	JPN	20.0	10	10	10


FPl.	Name			Nat.	Points	SP	FS

1	KWAN Michelle 		USA	1.5	1	1
2	HUGHES Sarah 		USA	3.0	2	2
3	VOLCHKOVA Viktoria 	RUS	4.5	3	3
4	ARAKAWA Shizuka 	JPN	7.0	6	4
5	COHEN Sasha 		USA	7.0	4	5
6	SEBESTYEN Julia 	HUN	8.5	5	6
7	ROBINSON Jennifer 	CAN	10.5	7	7
8	KIERKGAARD Mikkeline 	DEN	13.0	8	9
9	WAKAMATSU Utako 	JPN	13.5	11	8
10	SOKOLOVA Elena 		RUS	14.5	9	10
11	GIUNCHI Vanessa 	ITA	16.0	10	11


FPl.	Name			Nat.	Points	SP	FS

1	GOEBEL Timothy 		USA	1.5	1	1
2	HONDA Takeshi 		JPN	3.5	3	2
3	ABT Alexander 		RUS	4.0	2	3
4	WEISS Michael 		USA	7.5	7	4
5	KLIMKIN Ilia 		RUS	7.5	5	5
6	SAVOIE Matt 		USA	9.0	4	7
7	LI Chengjiang 		CHN	10.0	8	6
8	FERREIRA Ben 		CAN	11.0	6	8
9	JOUBERT Brian 		FRA	14.0	10	9
10	SMALUN Silvio 		GER	15.5	9	11
11	ANDREEV Fedor 		CAN	16.0	12	10
12	NAKANIWA Kensuke 	JPN	17.5	11	12

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Skate America
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