2006 Skate America: Ladies Highlights

Miko Ando of Japan won her first senior Grand Prix gold medal at her second visit to Skate America, while teammate Mao Asada captured the bronze. USA’s Kimmie Meissner settled for the silver in her first appearance at a Skate America event.

Short Program

Asada, who was last to skate, opened her routine with a triple Lutz followed by a good triple flip-triple loop combination. The Junior World silver medalist also displayed a good level three spiral sequence, good spins, and a double Axel, earning a score of 68.84 (personal best) for her performance to Nocturne by Frederic Chopin.

“I like this program very much,” said Asada. “It is the first time for me to use a slow music for the entire program, but I’m happy that I did that well.” The 16-year-old added that she planned to attempt a triple Axel in the long program.

Teammate Ando landed a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel in her routine to Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade. The two-time Japanese National champ also produced good spins to earn a score of 66.74 points (personal best), placing second after the short.

Ando remembered the mistakes she made in her jumps last year. “This year, I went back to my very first coach, Mrs. Monna, and to Nikolai Morozov [choreographer],” she said. “They helped me to become the Miki Ando that I [am] today.”

Performing to Snowstorm, Meissner touched down on the first jump of her triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but delivered a good triple flip and double Axel as well as a level four spiral sequence and combination spin, placing third in the short with 58.82 points.

“It felt so great to be back out in front of the crowd,” said Meissner. “I felt really calm actually going into it and even with the hand down on the Lutz, I’m still pretty proud of what I did.” Despite the mistake, the world champ added that the competition wasn’t over. “I think it’s still anybody’s game and anything can happen.”

On her heels was Switzerland’s Sarah Meier, who put out a good routine and placed fourth with 57.60 points.

USA’s Emily Hughes was fifth after the short with 57.42 points.

Long Program

Skating to Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in E minor op. 64, Ando opened with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, followed by a triple Salchow, and a triple flip. The Olympian also delivered a triple Lutz, triple toeloop-double loop-double loop combination, a triple flip-double loop combination, and a double Axel. The 19-year-old also displayed a difficult spiral sequence and good spins to earn 125.58 points for a first place finish in the long. It was enough to move her up from second to first overall with a total score of 192.59.

“Last year, I had a lot of misses in my jumps,” admitted Ando, who had injuries as well as problems in training. “This year I want to be without mistakes, the Miki I am without jumping mistakes.”

Meissner, who stood in third after the short, opened her Flamenco program with a good triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, followed by a double Axel, and a triple flip-double toeloop combination. The current World champ also impressed with high level spiral sequence and spins as well as three more triple jumps to score 118.96 points for a points for a second place finish in the long. With an overall score of 177.78, the 17-year-old jumped up one spot to second overall.

Meissner was very pleased and excited about her performance. “I didn’t even feel the effects of the long program until the last thing,” she said. “I was so excited about that. My adrenalin was pumping the whole time.” The US National silver medalist added: “Yesterday made me feel very determined today to show everybody that I really want to do well here and I want to do well this whole season. It gave me something to push for and to work toward.”

In her routine to music from soundtracks of Kikujiro and Pride and Prejudice, Meier opened with a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double loop combination followed by a triple flip-double toeloop combination, and a triple flip. The 22-year-old produced two more clean triples in addition to good spins and footwork. The Swiss champ was awarded 111.41 points for a third place finish in the long, maintaining fourth place overall with a total score of 169.01.

Asada, who stood in first after the short, didn’t do as well as she had hoped. The popped her opening triple Axel to a single and doubled a flip. Though she landed three triples (one in combination with a double), her layback was scored as a level one. The 2005 Grand Prix champ earned 102.29 points for a fourth place finish in the long, but was able to stay on the podium for a bronze with a total of 173.21 points.

“I should have done more. I could have done more,” said a disappointed Asada. “I don’t really understand what happened. I felt confident when I went into the triple Axel, but it just popped.”

Hughes finished sixth in the long and fifth overall (147.34 points), while Mai Asada (Mao’s sister) finished sixth overall (138.29 points).

Finland’s Kiira Korpi moved up from eighth to seventh overall (132.93) after finishing fifth in the free.

Ando, who picked up 15 points, will compete along side Meissner (13 points) again in three weeks at Trophee Bompard. Mao Asada (11 points) will compete next month in her home country of Japan at NHK Trophy.

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