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  Saturday, March 23, 2002

Skating Diva: Slutskaya Wins 2002 Worlds, Kwan Silver, Suguri Bronze

A picture named WomensWrlds2002.jpgAfter three silver medals in the past four years, Irina Slutskaya of Russia finally claimed her first World title with a determined effort. The Olympic silver medalist stepped out of Kwan's shadow by landing six triples in a clean performance that was awarded with six first place marks. Slutskaya, who is only the second Russian woman to win a World title, has now won five World medals including three silvers and one bronze since 1996.

"I am just happy," Slutskaya said. "This is my seventh World Championships and first gold medal so I am just happy."

A picture named WomensWrlds2002-2.jpgFour-time World champion Michelle Kwan (Torrance, Calif.), was unable to defend her World title but added her name to the U.S. record books by winning the silver medal at the 2002 World Figure Skating Championships in Japan March 22.

The Olympic bronze medalist entered the free skate in third place and needed a great performance and some luck to win her third straight and fifth career World title on Saturday night. As she has done before, Kwan delivered a clean performance although she doubled the tail end of her planned triple toe-triple toe combination. Kwan received marks ranging from 5.7-5.8 for technical merit and 5.7-5.9 for presentation with only three judges awarding her first place marks.

"I am happy with what I have done," Kwan said. "The important thing is that I came out and skated well the only thing I messed up was leaving out the triple-triple."

With her seventh World medal in nine appearances, Kwan now moves ahead of Dick Button, Carol Heiss, Hayes Jenkins and Todd Eldredge for the most World medals by a U.S. skater.

For Kwan, the World Championships ended a long and, at times, difficult season. In October, Kwan stunned the figure skating world when she announced that she had parted ways with longtime coach Frank Carroll. After a slow start by her standards, Kwan gained momentum throughout the season and captured her sixth career and fifth straight U.S. title. In February, Kwan again failed to realize her dream of Olympic gold but was successful in claiming her second straight medal.

"It has been a long season," added Kwan. "I had to take one thing after another after the Olympics. I know I love to compete. I know for sure I don't want to turn pro, but I don't know how much I want to do."

In second after the short program, Japan's Fumie Suguri was unable to hold on and claimed the bronze medal -- the first World medal by a Japanese woman since Yuka Sato won the World title in 1994.

In her first World Championship appearance, U.S. silver medalist Sasha Cohen (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) rebounded from a difficult short program to finish fourth overall. Cohen, who placed fourth at the Olympics, had another tough night as she missed the tail end of her opening combination -- triple lutz, triple toe -- and later fell on a triple loop. Cohen, who landed five triples, received marks of 5.2-5.5 for technical merit and 5.5-5.7 for presentation to overcome Japan's Yoshie Onda in the final standings.

"I am disappointed," Cohen said. "I was just trying to go for it. I really didn't have anything to lose. I would have like to medal here, but it doesn't always turn out how you want."

Jennifer Kirk (Newton, Mass.) withdrew prior to the free skate on Saturday night due to a muscle strain in her left hip. Kirk, who placed fifth in the 2002 U.S. Championships, was in 15th overall after the short program. Kirk had been bothered by the hip all week and the injury increased following the short program on Friday where she had difficulty landing jumps and missed two of the eight required elements.

Based on the results, the U.S. is eligible to enter three entries in the ladies competition at the 2003 World Figure Skating Championships in Washington, D.C. next March.

For complete Results Click here.

4:43:00 PM    

Skating Diva Speaks:  ISU President Cinquanta Says He Will Handover the Documents

AP's reporting that ISU President "Speedy" Cinquanta will turn over the documents, regarding the Olympic Pairs judging scandal before the Hearing set for April 29-30 at the ISU Headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. However when Max Miller, attorney for suspended judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne, will receive the documents was not given. Miller has filed a complaint regarding the matter, and his inability to defend his client because the evidence is being withheld.

Cinquanta is also plugging his plan to revise the judging system as to how events are judged. His new system is a reverse of the current system in which skaters will be given points for each element (jump, spin, footwork) is accomplished. He has also spoken of a "factoring" for the difficulty of the element done, similiar to gymnastics or diving. He has spoken little of the artistic score for performance, which is causing concern in the skating community.

The ISU President is hoping his new system will be in place within the next two years.  However many national skating unions, including the US Figure Skating Association are expressing their concerns and asking for public comments and suggestions. 

This is far from over.

1:22:56 AM    

Skating Diva: Report from World's Ladies Short - Dance

Four-time World champion Michelle Kwan (Torrance, Calif.), stumbled in the short program on Friday in her attempt to claim a fifth career and third straight World title at the 2002 World Figure Skating Championships in Japan.

The Olympic bronze medalist entered the short program in good position to defend her World title after winning her qualifying group on Wednesday. Kwan, skating to "Rachmaninoff," had difficulty on the first of the eight required elements when she fell out of the triple lutz. Kwan recovered quickly to complete a double toe, but the damage was done. Facing a mandatory deduction in the short program for the error, Kwan received marks of 5.2-5.4 for required elements and presentation marks of 5.7-5.9, to finish the day in third overall. Kwan must now win the free skate and have Irina Slutskaya finish no higher than third to claim her fifth World title.

"Going into the combination, I felt a little too fast I think I just leaned back too much," said Kwan. "I'll just have to come back strong tomorrow. I have been in this position before (2000 World Championships in Nice, France), the difference is this time I am aware of it."

Three-time World silver medalist Irina Slutskaya of Russia received two 6.0s for presentation to take one step closer to an elusive World title that has eluded her in six previous attempts. Skating last in the final group, the Olympic silver medalist was clean on all eight elements and received unanimous first place marks from all nine judges. The perfect marks were the first of Slutskaya's career at a World Championships.

"It's the first time I have received a 6.0 for presentation in the short program at Worlds," said Slutskaya. "I skated well today but I will now forget this and focus on skating well again tomorrow."

Japan's Fumie Suguri capitalized on the mistakes of the day by skating a clean program to finish in second overall. Suguri, who received second place marks from eight of the nine judges, can claim her first World title and first ladies title for Japan since 1994 with a win in the free skate on Saturday.

Reigning U.S. silver medalist Sasha Cohen (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) suffered a similar fate shared by her U.S. teammates in the short program. After skating clean through the first five elements, Cohen fell on her double Axel attempt and fell to fifth overall. Cohen, who was second in her qualifying group, must now have a clean free skate and hope for help to have an opportunity to claim a medal at her first World Championships.

"I was disappointed by my performance today," said Cohen. "I really don't know what happened. I have been skating good programs all week and I felt prepared."

Jennifer Kirk (Newton, Mass.), had a difficult short program in which she fell on her first two jumps - a triple lutz and a triple flip. Kirk, who is in 15th overall, complained of a left hip injury that has been bothering her all week and presented itself again during the warm-up.

"My hip was hurting a little during warm-up," said Kirk. "The problem started this weekend, but it really hit me during the warm-up. Hopefully I will be able to forget about today's performance and finish strong on Saturday."

Note: 1999 World champion Maria Butyrskaya of Russia officially withdrew from the 2002 World Championships on Friday morning. According to an official communication from the event organizers, Butyrskaya withdrew from the event due to "physical and mental fatigue". Butyrskaya placed sixth in qualifying group A on Wednesday.

12:21:40 AM    

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