2001 Trophee Lalique Highlights

The 2001 Trophée Lalique figure skating championships were held in Paris, France, November 15-18, 2001. This is the fourth of a series of six competitions before the Grand Prix Final which is to be held in December in Ontario, Canada.

The partisan French crowd had much to cheer about during the season debut of former World Champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat. Earning a perfect mark of 6.0 for each of their new programs, the French have served notice that they will be strong contenders for Olympic gold. After the lukewarm reception of reigning World Championships Fusar-Poli and Margaglio at Nations Cup, Anissina and Peizerat have established themselves the early favorites.

In their non-scoring event, Canada’s Shae-Lynn Bourne and Viktor Kraatz took home a silver medal ahead of Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas of Lithuania. Bulgaria’s Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski were third, ahead of the second-ranked French team of Delobel and Schoenfelder.

France’s other medal came in the pairs event, where Sarah Abitbol and Stephane Bernadis finished third behind the fast-rising Americans, Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman, and the former World Champions Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.

The ladies event was won by Maria Butyrskaya for the fourth consecutive year. The twenty-nine-year old’s performance was marred by three falls, but it was nevertheless enough to hold off American teenagers Sarah Hughes and Sasha Cohen, who took second and third. Hughes narrowly defeated Butyrskaya in the free skate, but her fourth-place finish in the short program prevented her from pulling up far enough to win the gold overall. The highest-finishing French skater was Laetitia Hubert, fifth.

Alexei Yagudin successfully defended his title in the men’s event with a sub-par performance that was nevertheless enough to come out on top of a very weak field. Yagudin was the only skater among the top five to even rotate a quadruple jump in the free skate. Thirty-year old American Todd Eldredge was second, followed by Germany’s Andrejs Vlascenko. Junior World Champion Johnny Weir was fourth.

The Grand Prix Series continues this week with the Cup of Russia in St. Petersburg, headlined by Irina Slutskaya, Evgeny Plushenko, and Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.

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