Golden Skate

Suguri leads ladies at Cup of Russia

Japan's Fumie Suguri, 27, placed first after her routine to Fanfan by Nicolas Jorelle.

Fumie Suguri of Japan won the Ladies Short Program event by virtue of being one the few skaters to avoid major mistakes. The 2008 Skate Canada silver medalists opened her program to Fanfan by Nicolas Jorelle with a nice triple Lutz-double toe loop combination, a triple flip out of steps, and a double Axel out of a spread eagle. Except for her layback, which was graded a level 2, all other non-jumping elements received levels three and four which allowed her to score 58.30
points for her romantic routine.

Suguri, however, was disappointed by the result, saying that she had worked hard on improving her program components score.

“After my previous event (Skate Canada), I worked a lot on transitions to maximize my score under Code of Points,” said the 27-year-old. “Therefore it was a bit difficult for me to be satisfied with my marks today, but I’m happy with my performance. Last season I spent a year in Moscow, so I have a lot of people who support me here.”

The student of Nikolai Morozov claims not have any surprises planned for tomorrow. “I can only say that I’m using the same music which Maria Butyrskaya used when she won the World Championships. I have a lot of respect for her. She wasn’t that young when she won that medal. I can appreciate it now, because I’m approaching her age. I think the Russian public remembers her skate very well, but I’m not planning to repeat her program. I have a different one and I hope they will like me as well.”

When asked about her coaching change, Suguri added, “I don’t have any complaints about Sasha Zhulin or Moscow. Everything was fine. He was pushing me really hard, but I don’t have much time left (referring to the Olympic season next year). My agent suggested that I switch to Nikolai Morozov because he is more experienced in working with single skaters and has already worked with Olympic Champions.”

Italy’s Carolina Kostner continued the streak of unfortunate performances with a faulty performance in her routine to a tango. The 2008 Worlds silver medalist was able to rotate her trademark triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but was forced to put a hand down to prevent herself from falling, and later fell on an underrotated triple Lutz attempt.

Despite the mistakes, Kostner produced a clean double Axel and mostly level four spins. While her interpretation of the tango included only a few traditional tango highlights, the combination of her excellent basic skating skills, great flow across the ice, and general confidence allowed her to sell the program both to the crowd and the judges. As a result, she was rewarded with a new seasonal best of 57.02 points for second place.

“After my short program at Skate Canada I was a bit sad,” admitted Kostner. “I was not satisfied with my performance at all. There was that strange fall due to the lack of concentration. I’ve learned a lot about this kind of mistake from that fall. I think the most important thing for the skater is to have fun on the ice – to be herself. This is what I did today, even though the jumps were not quite good. Sometimes it’s better to forget about choreography and just feel the music and skate to it. This is what I did and it gave me confidence.”

Quick thinking allowed USA’s Rachael Flatt to finish third in the short program with 55.92 points. After landing a couple of clean triple flip-triple loop combinations during the warm-up, the student of Tom Zakrajsek had a shaky landing to her flip during the actual program and was unable to tack on the second jump. She covered her mistake well, however, adding a double toe loop to an intended solo triple Lutz out of steps, picking up additional one and half points. The 2008 World Junior Champion also landed a clean double Axel and earned levels three and four for her non-jumping elements.

“I was a little disappointed that the flip didn’t work,” Flatt said, “but I guess the change worked pretty well. I didn’t skate my best. So I’m happy to be third.”

Competing at her first Grand Prix of the season, Julia Sebestyen of Hungary delivered a powerful program to a mix of Songs from a Secret Garden and Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango, but struggled with her jumps. After opening her performance with a high and confident triple flip, she later doubled a planned triple Lutz in combination with a double toe loop. The 27-year-old recovered to land a strong double Axel, and her spins were as good as usual, but she was not able to overcome the low basic value of her program and scored only 53.64 points.

USA’s Alissa Czisny finished a close fifth after falling on an underrotated triple Lutz attempt in the beginning of her routine to Camille Saint-Saëns’The Swan. The rest of her elements, especially her spins and spiral sequence, were superb and the graceful skater was able to impress the crowd with her flexibility and balletic style to earn 53.50 points.

Estonia’s Elena Glebova was forced to overcome a shaky start to her Songs My Mother Taught Me routine after she unexpectedly slipped on her first move out of the starting pose. The student of Anna Levandi (nee Kondrashova), however, managed to pull herself together and went on to land a triple toe loop-triple toe loop combination – the only clean triple-triple combination of the night, as well as a triple Salchow out of steps and a double Axel. She scored 51.02 points for sixth place.

Alena Leonova of Russia is currently seventh, followed by USA’s Kimmie Meissner.

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