2004 World Figure Skating Championships: Ladies Highlights

Shizuka Arakawa of Japan was the surprise winner in the ladies event, winning her first world title, while USA’s Sasha Cohen and Michelle Kwan won silver and bronze respectively.

The ladies event begin with the Qualifying Rounds which account for 20 percent of the final score. The short program is worth 30 percent while the long is worth 50 percent. The top 15 skaters from each qualifying group advanced to the Short Program.

Qualifying Round – Group B

Cohen opened her routine with a triple Lutz-double toeloop followed by a triple flip, a triple toeloop, a double Axel and a nice split jump into a Charlotte. The 19-year-old then executed a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, a triple Lutz, a triple Salchow, and a nice layback. The two-time and reigning US silver medalist produced fast footwork and spins to receive marks ranging from 5.4 to 5.9 for a first place finish in her group.

“We [made] the decision to take [the triple toeloop] out and concentrate on giving a strong performance,” explained Cohen, who considered the qualifying round to be good practice. “Working with my new coach Robin Wagner helps me in any aspect,” she continued. “It seems to add a lot more confidence to my skating.”

Russia’s Elena Sokolova executed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop followed by a triple flip, a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, three more triple jumps, and a double Axel to earn marks from 5.5 to 5.8 for a second place finish in her group.

“I felt not so confident at the beginning of the program,” confessed Sokolova, “but then at the end, I felt good.”

Julia Sebestyen of Hungary opened her routine with a high triple Salchow followed by a triple Lutz which pitched forward on the landing, but the 2004 European champion held off on putting her hand down. The 22-year-old then did three turns into a triple loop followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but fell on a triple toeloop, earning marks from 5.1 to 5.6 for a third place finish in her group.

“I’m very angry about the triple toeloop because it is the easiest jump,” said Sebestyen, “but overall I’m okay with my performance. After Europeans I became sick, so I didn’t have much time for preparation.”

Ukraine’s Elena Liashenko, who underwent foot surgery a week after the European Championships, finished fourth in this group.

“It wasn’t bad for nine days of skating,” said Liashenko. “A week after the Europeans, I underwent surgery in my [left] foot to remove a cyst. After the surgery, the nerve was irritated and it took quite long to recover. Sometimes I still feel it. So I couldn’t really practice. It was tough to pull myself together today, I’m not quite ready yet.”

Qualifying Round – Group A

Arakawa, who doubled her Lutz (in combination with a triple toeloop), overcame the mistake to execute a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination as well as three more triple jumps (one a triple loop-double loop combination) and a double Axel in her program, earning marks from 5.5 to 5.9 for a first place finish in her group.

“I was able to concentrate on the rest of my performance,” said Arakawa, noting the doubled Lutz. “I have trained only for a very short time with Tatiana Tarasova, but I learned very much. I think that’s why I skated like I did today. Maybe I was a bit too focused on the jumps, next time I also have to give a more artistic performance. I was very surprised about the 5.9. Normally my second mark is lower than the first one. I didn’t expect this.”

Teammate Miko Ando landed a triple Lutz-triple loop combination but fell on a quadruple Salchow attempt which was almost 1/2 rotation short. The 2004 Junior Grand Prix champion went on to execute three more triple jumps (one in combination with a double toeloop) as well as two double Axels. Her performance earned marks from 5.3 to 5.9 for a second place finish in her group.

“I’m really pleased, I skated with joy today,” said Ando. “I’m very happy to be in second place in my group and to be in the final flight for the Short Program. But no matter in which group I skate, it is a great joy for me to be at the (senior) World Championships. I regret that I fell on the quadruple Salchow, but I will continue to try it.”

Kwan landed four triple jumps, two in combination, but popped the opening triple toeloop and fell on a triple Lutz. The mistakes cost her and the defending world champion earned marks ranging from 4.9 to 5.9 to place third in her group.

“It was hard, I couldn’t feel the ice,” said Kwan. “I wish I had practice here this morning, because it was a different kind of ice surface and I didn’t feel like I got under my legs. I was stiff. I got into it in the middle, but it was already too late. I can’t say it felt like me out there. I guess that was like a wake up call.”

Finland’s Susanna Pöykiö put out a good performance, albeit a doubled Lutz, to finish fourth in her group.

Russia’s Irina Slutskaya, competing for the first time this season due to illness, doubled her first Lutz and fell on the next one. The 2002 Olympic silver medalist finished fifth in her group.

“It was so great coming back into competition today,” said Slutskaya. “I couldn’t wait to come to Worlds. After being away for a year, I really needed the feeling to perform and do my best again. I have not yet recovered totally from my health problems. There are still days when I feel tired but there are more and more better days in practice. I think my body is still adjusting. The program wasn’t excellent but I’m on my way back to the top.”

Short Program

Performing to Malaguena, Cohen executed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel. The 2004 Grand Prix silver medalist displayed a good layback spin, fast footwork, and good spirals to earn marks ranging from 5.6 to 6.0 for a first place finish in the short and overall.

“I wanted it so bad today,” admitted Cohen. “That’s why I skated so aggressively. I pulled myself together and said to myself that I can do it. I’m much more confident than a year before. I have the feeling that I can make it, even though there are so many great and strong skaters out there. It’s no longer between Michelle Kwan and me. It will be a great final in the long program.”

Arakawa executing a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination (the toeloop was underrotated), a triple flip, and a double Axel in her short to Swan Lake, receiving marks ranging from 5.5 to 5.9 for a second place finish in the short and overall.

“My body was very tight today,” confessed the two-time Four Continents silver medalist. “During the warm-up, I told myself, ‘Relax, relax’. I told myself I just have to do what I did in practice. The Lutz was a bit wobbly, but I really wanted to do a triple toe in the combination, not just a double, and therefore the toeloop was under-rotated. Now I’m very calm and tomorrow, I want to show what I can do in practice.”

Ando landed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple flip and a double Axel in her short to The Pianist, earning marks from 5.4 to 5.9 for a third place finish in the short and overall.

“I really enjoyed skating today,” said Ando. “It was very exciting to skate in the last warm-up group with Michelle Kwan and the others. I was very focused when I went out to skate. We’ll decide tomorrow in the morning practice whether to include the quadruple Salchow in the free skating or not.”

Skating to The Feeling Begins, Kwan opened her short with a double Axel followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop and a triple flip. However, the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist was penalized with a deduction when her program exceeded the 2:40 minute time limit by two seconds. The marks ranged from 5.1 to 5.9, placing her fourth in the short and overall.

“I felt very comfortable with my program today,” said Kwan, unaware of the time deduction til later. “I still believe in myself and I love both of my programs. This is my 11th Worlds so I am used to competing and don’t have to worry about it too much. I will show what I can accomplish here in Dortmund. The rest is not under my control.”

Italy’s Carolina Kostner skated to Song from a Secret Garden by Rolf Løvland, producing a triple flip-triple toeloop followed by a triple loop and a double Axel to earn scores from 5.4 to 5.8 for a fifth place finish in the short and sixth overall.

“I was so excited,” said Kostner, “I couldn’t even sleep last night. I was nervous or Stephane [Lambiel], of course, and also because of my own performance today.”I have high ambitions for putting out a special performance,” the 17-year-old continued. “I would like to do something like the triple-triple-double combination again.”

Skating to Waltz by Dmitri Shostakovich, Sebestyen opened her short with footwork into a triple flip followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a double Axel. The Hungarian champion earned marks from 5.3 to 5.8, placing sixth in the short and fifth overall.

Slutskaya popped a triple flip and finished seventh overall, while teammate Sokolova fell on her triple flip and dropped to 11th place overall.

Long Program

Drawing first to skate, Arakawa performed to Puccini’s Turandot, opening with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop-double loop combination followed by a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination. The 2004 Japanese bronze medalist went on to execute a triple flip, a triple loop, a double Axel, and a triple Lutz to earn marks from 5.7 to 6.0 for a first place finish in the long and overall.

“I was focused on my performance,” said Arakawa. “I always want to show my best and today I did very well. I’m so happy that I could put every emotion and all the power into my Free Skating.” The 22-year-old went on to say, “I’m very surprised to have won today, I can’t believe it yet. Winning the World Championships has been a dream for me.”

Kwan stood in fourth after a less than par performance in the qualifying round and a short program which was penalized for exceeding the time limit. As she took the ice, a man jumped onto the ice and begin to strip down to a tutu. Kwan left the ice until he was removed by security and debris was picked up.

Performing to Tosca, Kwan opened with a triple loop followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel. The US champion then executed a triple Salchow and a triple toeloop, but doubled a Lutz. The 23-year-old earned marks from 5.6 to 6.0 to place second in the long and third overall.

I was surprised,” said Kwan, referring to the incident. “I thought it was one of the flower girls, and then I looked again. It was an adult, a man stripping down. It was a little distracting. I had to concentrate and to refocus and just go out there and skate. I felt much better than in the Qualifying Round. I made one mistake, but overall the performance I felt was brilliant, because I felt good. That is all that matters.”

Cohen opened her Swan Lake routine with a triple Lutz but had to fight for the landing and was unable to add a double toeloop. Though Wagner’s new student executed five more triples, she stumbled on the triple Salchow and earned marks from 5.6 to 5.9 for a third place finish in the long and second overall.

“It’s exciting to have won my first World medal here in Dortmund,” Cohen told the press. “It’s been an exciting week full of great competitions. Overall I’m happy with my performances here. It could have been better, the last one, but I did a lot of good things here. I don’t know why I missed the take off on the triple Salchow. I was focused and ready to go for it, just like in Qualifying and in the Short. But being on the podium at Worlds for the first time is the first step to bigger things.”

Skating to Stravinsky’s Firebird, Ando opened with a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, but doubled a Salchow on a quad attempt. The 2004 World Junior champion went on to execute a double Axel, a triple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip, a triple loop from footwork, and a double Axel. The 16-year-old earned marks from 5.4 to 5.8 for a fourth place finish in the long and overall.

Kostner, who skated last in the final flight, landed a triple flip-triple toeloop-double loop combination in her routine, placing sixth in the long and fifth overall.

Sebestyen, who stood in fifth after the short, placed seventh in the long slipping to sixth overall.

Teammate Fumie Suguri placed fifth in the long program, moving up to seventh place overall.

Slutskaya and Sokolova finished ninth and 11th overall respectively.

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