Golden Skate

Lysacek captures second Four Continents title

USA’s Evan Lysacek proved that his performance at the US Championships two weeks ago was no fluke. The two-time and reigning World bronze medalist overcame an almost 11 point deficit after the short program to win his second title at this event.

Three-time and current Canadian Champion Jeffrey Buttle settled for silver after a disappointing performance.

Skating to music from Bizet’s Carmen, Lysacek opened with a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, albeit slightly two-footed, which set the tone for the program from the start. His lone error came on his next element, the triple Axel, in which he had to put his hand down to keep from falling. The 2006 Cup of China Champion produced quickly recovered to land seven more solid triple jumps, as well as good spins and footwork, to earn a new personal best score for both his long program (159.23) and overall score (226.27).

Lysacek earned the highest technical score of the event based on his jump content, as well as the highest component score with masculine choreography by Lori Nichol that he performed with surety and intensity.

“Tonight was really satisfying,” said the 21-year-old. “It’s been kind of a grueling three week run, sort of marathon, between Nationals and now, [both] emotionally and physically. So to come here and fight through that performance felt really good.”

Looking forward to the World Championships in Japan, Lysacek feels that he will be well-prepared to compete for the top spot on that podium as well.

“The program is so technically grueling.” declared Lysacek. “It’s probably going to rival anyone else in the world technically, and now that I am confident with the quad and other jumps, it’s going to be all about improving the artistry.”

Buttle skated an intellectually sedate program with technically demanding transitions to music from the soundtrack Ararat. The 24-year-old and his choreographer, David Wilson, selected the music to this program after the skater watched the Canadian movie on TV.

“The program itself is not traditional because [neither] David Wilson or I have traditional styles,” explained Buttle. “We definitely took a more modern take on it, and really, the catalyst for choosing this [program] was the music.”

Buttle was unable, however, to fully capitalize on his impressive choreography, skating skills, and transitions, due to failing to rotate both attempts at the triple Axel, his most difficult planned jump element. After opening the program with a clean triple loop, the Olympic bronze medalist doubled his first attempt at a triple Axel and popped a second Axel into a single later in the program.

“Overall tonight, it wasn’t obviously the skate that I wanted,” lamented Buttle, adding that he had no excuse for the flawed jumps. “The jumps went pretty good except for the Axels. I just didn’t commit to them. I definitely need to go home and train harder and try to make up for lost time.”

The 2005-06 Grand Prix Final silver medalist still managed to execute seven triple jumps cleanly, one in combination with a double toe loop and a double loop, placing third (223.96) with a little less than three points behind Lysacek.

“I don’t think I was as aggressive as at Nationals in the long program,” admitted Buttle. “Definitely in the end I was feeling the altitude. I’m happy about the Lutz, but obviously disappointed about the Axels.”

In his first ISU Championships, Colorado native Jeremy Abbott clinched the bronze medal, out-skating his training mate and current US silver medalist Ryan Bradley, who finished a disappointing fourth.

Both men received thunderous applause from the crowd full of friends and family. “It’s been awesome competing in front of the home crowd,” gushed Abbott. “Having that support was wonderful.”

Abbott opened his Mozart and Fritz Kreisler program with a planned triple toe loop, and then did a three-turn out of a triple Axel before tacking on a triple toe loop. The 2006 Finlandia Trophy Champion showed world-class speed and interesting spins, but his performance was uneven from start to finish.

After the mistake on the Axel combination, the problems continued as Abbott popped another Axel and Lutz, as well as turning a triple-double-double combination into a single-single-double combination. Despite the errors, the 21-year-old went on to land two clean triple jumps and closed with an interesting sit spin combination, earning a personal best for both his long program (128.88) and total competition (203.22) scores.

“I’m ecstatic with how everything ended up,” said Abbott with his trademark crooked grin. “I’m a little disappointed with how my skate went, but in general this has been a great experience. It’s the next step. I feel like I made my mark on the international scene. Now I can move forward from here.”

Bradley came out of the gate looking like he would earn his first international senior medal by landing a huge triple Axel-triple toe loop combination, but then he fell on a triple lutz that seemed to take the wind out of his sails. The 2007 U.S. National silver medalist skated his Perez Prado latin medley program with much less speed and attention to choreography than he did at his national championships, and often appeared cautious when moving into his next element.

In the end, Bradley landed four triple jumps and earned level fours on his spins to finish behind Abbott. After the program, Bradley sat with his face in his hands in disappointment while waiting for his scores, looking even more distraught when his final placement was announced. Still, this competition earned him a new personal best in both his long program (127.46) and total competition (196.29) score.

Finishing in fifth place was 2007 Canadian National silver medalist Christopher Mabee. After singling his opening triple loop, last year’s silver medalist fought back to land five clean triple jumps while demonstrating jazzy choreography to big band music and music from the Pearl Harbor soundtrack. The 21-year-old lit up the arena with his entertaining footwork that had the audience howling in delight, and was the first performer of the night to seemingly overcome the difficulty of fighting with the altitude.

Emanuel Sandhu, who stood in fifth place after the short program, skated a disastrous performance in banana yellow stretch pants to music that honors his ancestral heritage, finish a disappointing ninth overall.

The 2007 Canadian National bronze medalist opened his program by stepping out of his quadruple toe loop combination, and only managed to land two clean triple jumps in the rest of the program. He also lacked the speed of his usual programs, and passively presented the choreography which is usually his strong point. At one point in the program, it appeared as if Sandhu would give up, but he was able to finish the program on his way to his worst international showing since 2001.

Japan’s Noriyuki Kanzaki and Kensuke Nakaniwa placed sixth and seventh, respectively.

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