2004 World Figure Skating Championships: Men’s Highlights
Evgeni Plushenko of Russia defended his World title in the Men’s event, winning his third gold medal. France’s Brian Joubert won silver while Stefan Lindemann of Germany won the bronze.
The men’s event began 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
Canada’s Emanuel Sandhu landed a quadruple toeloop-double toeloop combination, but fell on the next element, a triple Axel. The 2004 Four Continents silver medalist recovered to land a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip-triple toeloop combination, and two more triple jumps, earning marks from 5.5 to 5.8 for a first place finish in his group.
“I’m more than proud of this program,” said Sandhu. “After the fall on the triple Axel at the beginning, I pulled myself together. Now I am in first position and am very happy with that.” The 23-year-old went on to say, “That’s the nature of sport, that’s the nature of the level I am skating now. At the end I really had to fight, but because of my condition I could do the last two triple-triples.”
Joubert landed a quadruple toeloop followed by a triple flip, a triple Axel, and a triple flip-double toeloop combination. The 2004 European champion landed four more triple jumps to earn marks from 5.1 to 5.8 for a second place finish in his group.
“I just wanted to be in the top three in Qualifying,” said Joubert, mentioning that he only did one quadruple jump in order to conserve strength. “One quad was the minimum, though. And if you want a medal, you need two.” He added, “I felt [my program] was better than at Europeans because it was more precise. But of course it wasn’t the maximum yet. There was no triple-triple combination and no quad-triple. I held back a little.”
Switzerland’s Stephane Lambiel put a hand down on his opening jump, the triple Axel, but recovered to land a quadruple toeloop followed by a triple flip-triple toeloop and a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination. The 18-year-old landed two more clean triple jumps to earn marks from 5.1 to 5.7 for a third place finish in his group.
“During practice last week everything was okay,” said Lambiel. “But since I have been practicing here in Dortmund, I’ve had problems with my quad and my triple Axel. He added, “The important thing is that you must have patience and a lot of self confidence.”
Frederick Dambier of France, who is struggling with a back injury, landed a quadruple Salchow and finished fourth in his group.
China’s Chengjiang Li landed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination to place fifth in his group.
Qualifying Group A
Plushenko opened his routine with a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple Axel, a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination, and a triple Lutz. The 2002 Olympic silver medalist landed two more clean triples to earn marks from 5.8 to 5.9 for a first place finish in his group.
“This was a good performance, and everything is going according to plan,” said a focused Plushenko. “Now I have to relax and then attack tomorrow full force. This was just the beginning, and the battle goes on.” Referring to his disappointing performance at the European Championships, he continued, “This is sport, and things like this happen in our life. Falls happen, mistakes happen, and it happened to me at Europeans. I’m prepared for things like this, and I can cope with them. I moved on.”
Klimkin landed eight triple jumps in his routine, including a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination. Despite some shaky landings, the 2004 European bronze medalist earned marks from 5.2 to 5.8 for a second place finish in his group.
“I got injured a week ago in practice,” explained Klimkin, “I tore a muscle in the hip and leg really badly when practicing a triple Axel. I couldn’t even skate. So I’m really not in a top shape right now. I actually wanted to try a quad toeloop, but on the take off I realized that it wouldn’t work and I thought it would be better to do a clean triple. I was really cautious out there today.”
Lindemann landed a quadruple toeloop-double toeloop (hand down after the quad) followed by a triple Axel-double toeloop combination, in his performance. Although the 23-year-old fell out of a triple Axel and doubled a flip, he landed four more triple jumps to earn marks from 5.0 to 5.7 for a third place finish in his group.
“I’m definitely pleased with this performance,” said Lindemann. “I fought through it. I popped the flip into a double at the first attempt. I was not focused enough.” He added, “I aimed for a good placement, and that’s what I got. I put down the hand on the quad toeloop, because I wanted to play it safe. I probably didn’t need the hand, and next time I’ll do it without.”
Min Zhang of China landed a quadruple toeloop and Salchow to finish fourth in his group.
USA’s Michael Weiss two-footed his quadruple toeloop (in combination with triple toeloop) and finished fifth in his group.
Plushenko opened his Tango and Flamenco routine with a solid quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, followed by a high triple Axel. Though the Russian champion pitched forward a bit on the landing of his triple Lutz, he received marks ranging from 5.7 to 5.9 for a first place finish in the short and overall.
“I felt good on the ice,” said Plushenko, “everything was fine, and as it should be. I’m happy to have done two good programs in Qualifying and the Short Program. But this is just the middle of the competition.”
Joubert opened his program with a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, holding onto the landing of the quad, followed by a triple Axel and footwork into a triple flip. The 19-year-old earned marks ranging from 5.6 to 5.9 for his performance to Time by Pink Floyd, placing second in the short and overall.
“It was hard for me,” confessed Joubert. “I knew Evgeni and Stefan had done very good Short Programs. I think I did better at the European Championships but being in the last group is always not easy. Especially with the great skaters tonight.” Smiling, he added, “Being in the top three I am going to do everything to win a medal here. Which one we will see, but why not win the gold?”
Skating to music from the Earnest soundtrack, Lindemann opened his program with a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple Axel and a triple Lutz. The German champion earned marks from 5.5 to 5.8 for a third place finish in the short and overall.
“It is so nice to sit here with Evgeni Plushenko and Brian Joubert,” said a stunned but happy Lindemann. “The audience was great,” he continued. “They really pushed me through. It was simply the greatest feeling to skate tonight. After my clean quadruple-triple toeloop combination I didn’t hear anything anymore because the crowd went crazy and so did I. Skating in your home country is the best.”
Skating to Jean Sibelius’ Valse Triste, Weir opened his dramatic short program with an easy triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination followed by a triple Axel and a triple flip. The 2004 US champion earned marks ranging from 5.0 to 5.7, placing fourth in the short and sixth overall.
“It is a little brutal to go from such an early morning competition (in Qualifying) to later at night today,” said Weir. “But I think night time definitely works better for me! I just felt really comfortable. I wasn’t nervous at all before I skated, I took my time on each element and I was really pleased with how I skated. I was confident that I was going to do everything to the best of my ability. The crowds were very nice. Hopefully I made a lot of new fans in Germany.”
In his militaristic program to Henry V, Weiss executed a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination, two-footing the landing on the quad in what was originally planned to be a triple flip-triple toeloop combination. The two-time World bronze medalist then landed a triple Axel followed by a triple Lutz to earn marks from 4.9 to 5.8 for a fifth place finish in the short and overall.
“I wanted to land the quadruple toeloop on one foot but didn’t quite make it,” admitted Weiss. “It is disappointing since I have been landing it clean the last couple of weeks in practice. I think I can do better than that and will for sure try in the long program. At this point in the competition it is no longer about the medals. I missed that chance with the weak qualifying program. Now it is about being the best I can be and just go for it.”
Lambiel executed a triple Axel in the opening of his routine to Vanessa Mae’s I’m a Doun, but fell on the quadruple toeloop. The Swiss champion landed a triple flip and displayed good footwork and spins to earn marks ranging from 4.8 to 5.8 four a sixth place finish in the short and fourth overall.
Sandhu, who had placed first in his qualifying group, was 13th in the short.
Performing his tribute to Vaclav Nizhinski, Plushenko opened with a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop-double loop combination followed by a quadruple toeloop. The two-time and reigning World champion went on to execute two triple Axels, one of which was in sequence with a triple flip, and two more triple jumps. Though the 21-year-old fell on the take off for a triple loop, he recovered quickly to finish with two spins, earning marks from 5.8 to 6.0 for a first place finish in the long and overall.
“Finally I pulled myself together and did two quads,” said Plushenko. “Unfortunately there was this weird mistake on the loop, I think there was something on the ice, because I don’t know how my blade slipped”. The 2004 European silver medalist went on to say, “The third World title is great, and I thank destiny for it. Yes, I waited anxiously for the marks, but I hoped that I had won, so I waited, waited, and watched. The judges decide and anything can happen. This was the hardest World Championship for me. Everyone skated so well, and I like this. We’re pushing the level of skating.”
Joubert opened his Matrix routine with a quadruple toeloop followed by a triple flip and a triple Axel. The French champion went on to execute a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination (turning out of the triple) and three more triple jumps to earn marks from 5.6 to 5.9 for a second place finish in the long and overall.
“Tonight my long program felt even better then at the European Championships,” said Joubert. “I was so relaxed and focused before and during my skate. Before the second quadruple toeloop I just said to myself, ‘Brian, you have done this before, you can do it now’. And I did it. Everything seemed to be so easy tonight. I was relaxed before my program.”
Performing to Joe Hisaishi’s Le Petit Poucet, Lindemann opened with a quadruple toeloop-triple toeloop combination (hand down on the quad) followed by a triple Axel-triple toeloop combination. The 2000 World Junior champion went on to land five more triples to earn marks ranging from 5.6 to 5.9 for a third place finish in the long and overall.
“I believed from the very beginning that I could make it through the whole program,” said Lindemann, “I didn’t have to do much, the audience carried me through the program. After the mistake, I thought, ‘Oh, you put your hand down. You have to do everything else.’ But I was sure I would do it. And I did. At the end I believed it would be enough.”
Lambiel, who’s routine featured two quadruple toeloops, one in combination with a triple toeloop (falling out of the triple toeloop), opened with a triple Axel. He went on to land five more triple jumps, earning marks from 5.6 to 5.9 for a fourth place finish in the long and overall.
Weir didn’t attempt a quadruple jump, but landed eight clean triples to earn marks from 5.3 to 5.8 for a fifth place finish in the long and overall.
Weiss finished sixth overall followed by Min Zhang of China, who was seventh.
Klimkin, who placed ninth in the short program, had to withdraw before the Free Skate due to a torn hamstring.