Irina Slutskaya of Russia was the gold medal winner in the ladies’ event, while USA’s Sasha Cohen won silver, and Italy’s Carolina Kostner picked up her first World medal – the bronze.
The ladies event began with the Qualifying Round (QR) in which 41 entries were divided into two groups. The top 15 competitors from each group proceeded to the Short Program. The segment score for the QR was multiplied by a factor of 0.25 and was then added to the scores of the Short and Long programs for a total score.
Qualifying Round – Group B
Cohen landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double toeloop combination, a triple flip-double toeloop combination, a triple toeloop-triple Salchow sequence, and a triple Salchow, but underrotated and fell on a triple loop. The 2004 World silver medalist also produced good level two spins and footwork, earning a Total Segment Score (TSS) of 28.41 for a first place finish in her group.
“It was not too bad for so early in the morning,” said Cohen. “I even went to the 6am practice. It was risky, but I decided I need to get a better feeling of the ice. I only practiced here once. It is not a problem for me to skate in the morning, because I am doing morning run-throughs at home as well.”
Cohen, who arrived on Monday to practice at the main rink, feels that each strategy has it’s pros and cons. “This way I have got more time to work on my programs at the home rink. I have made a lot of changes since nationals. I have changed all my spins, steps and spirals. I think it is going to be ok in the end. I think I have got enough time to recover.”
Japan’s Miko Ando landed a good triple Lutz-double toeloop combination followed by a triple Salchow, a triple flip-double toeloop, a triple loop, a triple Lutz, a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination, and a double Axel. The 2004 World Junior champion earned a TSS of 27.66 for a second place finish in her group.
“I felt I didn’t have quite enough speed and my jumps were a bit weak,” explained Ando. “I had some foot problems in Japan and so I’m pleased that I was able to skate the way I did today. I wanted to go for the quad (salchow) but on the way I understood that I wouldn’t make it, and so I did a triple. But I want to try the quad in the free program.”
Ando felt that qualifying in this group wasn’t easy. “There are many veteran skaters and strong young skaters, and so I’m very happy to have achieved this result.” The 17-year-old also stated that she went back to her old Firebird program because her new program didn’t have a theme.”I just like Russian ballet,” she admitted, “and I felt that this program would be suitable for a Russian audience. I really like the music and the story and I feel very comfortable with this program.”
Russia’s Elena Sokolova produced a triple Lutz-double toeloop-double loop combination, as well as two more triples and a double Axel, but doubled a flip, turned out the landing of a triple toeloop, and singled a Lutz. The 2003 World silver medalist earned a TSS of 24.39 for a third place finish in her group.
“I did the required minimum today,” said Sokolova. “I hope to skate much better in the main part of the event, but for qualifying it was ok. It is a bit hard to get up at 5 o’clock in the morning.”
Susanna Poykio of Finland turned out the landing of a triple Salchow, put her hands down on the landing of the Lutz in a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, doubled a loop, and singled a toeloop in a triple flip-double toeloop combination. However, the 2005 European silver medalist delivered two more triples and a double Axel, and despite a one point deduction for a time violation, placed fourth (23.69) in her group.
“It was a bit hard to skate,” said Poykio of skating early. “It could have gone better. The alarm clock rang at a quarter to five in the morning and there hasn’t been much of resting after that. The preparation for this event didn’t quite go as planned. There were all kinds of little things. I haven’t been having any trouble with my jumps lately. I wasn’t thinking on doing a triple-triple combination today but concentrated on the whole.”
Canada’s Joannie Rochette produced a triple toeloop-double toeloop-double toeloop combination, a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, and a triple Salchow-double toeloop combination, but singled a loop and fell on a triple flip. The 2004-05 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist placed fifth in her group with a TSS of 23.65.
“I was tired,” explained the Canadian champion. “We had really late practices and I had to get up early. It was kind of hard to keep focus, with the jet lag and everything. My first wake-up call was at 4:30 in the morning. I try to get to bed at nine here but you don’t fall asleep until at eleven or so. Today was an off day.”
Rochette was also hoping to squeeze out another triple in her routine. “I didn’t feel confident on my triple loop, which is usually my best jump. I added a triple salchow combination at the end [instead of the 2nd double Axel]. It’s not something you practice because you don’t want that to happen, but you do think of it and I knew I could do it.”
Julia Sebestyen of Hungary slid off the edge on the landing of a triple Lutz, doubled a triple Salchow, and doubled her second Lutz which was supposed to be a triple-double combination. The 2004 European champion earned a TSS of 22.91 for a sixth place finish in her group.
“I don’t really know what happened,” said Sebestyen’s coach, Andras Szarasz. “She lost her balance at the first lutz and then somehow lost confidence. Of course it was difficult to start so early. We didn’t do the practice this morning at 6am. Additionally she [has been] struggling with a flu for about a week and taking medicine.”
Annette Dytrt of Germany finished seventh (22.50), followed by Croatia’s Idora Hegel (22.33).
Qualifying Round – Group A
Slutskaya delivered landed a triple Salchow-double toeloop-double loop and combination), a triple loop-double toeloop combination, a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination, and three more triples, but stepped out of a triple loop and a double Axel. The Russian champion also displayed good spins for a TSS of 29.77 and a first place finish in her group.
“I had a good warm up today,” said Slutskaya, “I’ve tested the ice, I’ve tested the audience. I felt very different from the Cup of Russia.”
Slutskaya went on to say that she had to adapt to the crowd. “They were cheering for me and it was a bit distracting. It is a lot of responsibility to skate the World Championships at home, but I think I’ve managed. In the warm up I was nervous and made mistakes, but I pulled myself together for the program. I hope I will skate even better in the short program, but at the moment I am happy that I had such a good start.”
Japan’s Fumie Suguri executed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip, a triple toeloop-double toeloop combination, and a triple flip-double toeloop combination. However, the two-time and 2003 World bronze medalist underrotated and two-footed the landing on a triple Salchow and doubled a Lutz, earning a TSS of 27.19 for a second place finish in her group.
“I’ve worked very hard after the Four Continents championships,” said Suguri, “and so I’m in better shape here than I was there. I can push myself more.” The 24-year-old felt the connections between her jumps were a bit shaky.”I don’t care about the mistake on the jump [salchow],” she continued, “but in many places in between the jumps it was dangerous. Once I got stuck. It wasn’t my best yet.”
Kostner landed a triple flip-triple toeloop-double loop combination, but turned out the landing on the toeloop (on one foot) before executing the loop. The 2003 World Junior bronze medalist also landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple loop-double loop combination, a triple Salchow, and a double Axel, but fell on a triple toeloop. The 18-year-old placed third in her group with a TSS of 26.45.
Kostner was very happy with her performance, stating that it was her best long program of the season. “I hope I can continue like that.” Kostner experienced a music problem twice at the beginning, skating around the ice while the problem could be resolved. “It was the first time something like that happened to me,” she said, “but it’s better [that it] occurred today than Friday or Saturday. I tried not to become nervous and to stay concentrated. I focused a bit too much on the jumps. I have to work more on the choreography and on my expression.”
Shizuka Arakawa of Japan, landed a triple Lutz-double loop combination, a triple Salchow-triple toeloop combination, and two more triples, but the 23-year-old fell on a triple Lutz, stepped out of the landing of a double Axel, and put her hand down on a triple toeloop. The defending World champion earned a TSS of 25.79 for a fourth place finish in her group.
“I needed more energy,” admitted Arakawa, “and today I didn’t have much energy. It wasn’t too good, but I will try my best in the short and free programs. I got the feeling for the jumps back after I changed my skating boots. I think I’ll be fine for the short program.
USA’s Michelle Kwan landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a double Axel, and two more triples, but doubled a flip and a Salchow for a TSS of 24.99 and a fifth place finish in her group.
“The qualifying round is always really hard,” said Kwan. “I don’t remember what I did out there. I was terrible. I didn’t feel my legs underneath me. It just wasn’t my day. It didn’t feel good.”
Elena Liashenko of Ukraine landed a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple flip-double toeloop combination, but turned out the landing of a triple flip and underrotated and two-footed the landing of a triple Lutz. The 2005 European bronze medalist finished sixth in her group with a TSS of 24.58.
“Everything went pretty well,” said Liashenko, who was satisfied with her performance. Coach Marina Amerkhanova added: “Elena was a bit upset because we were not informed that the first skater [Nina Bates] withdrew. She thought she would have time to sit down and redo the laces of her boots after warm up, but she had to go and skate. I am satisfied with her performance, the main competition is still ahead.”
Sarah Meier of Switzerland finished seventh (22.57), followed by Canada’s Cynthia Phaneuf (21.77).
Taiwan’s Diane Chen withdrew due to an ankle injury before the QR.
Nina Bates of Bosnia and Herzegovina also withdrew before the QR due to a foot injury caused by her boots.
Skating to an energetic tango by Dmitry Shostakovich, Slutskaya landed a triple Lutz-double (pitched forward a bit on the landing), did a turn and then landed a double toeloop. The six-time and reigning European champion also had a slight stumble on the last spin, but landed a triple flip and a double Axel to receive 62.84 points for a first place finish in the short and overall (92.61).
“I just got stuck somewhere,” said Slutskaya. “Well, it’s competition, you never know what might happen. On the stumble of her final spin, the 26-year-old said, “I could have never imagined that it would be that hard to skate at my hometown. It tried to ignore the crowd, but it’s impossible. It is too much pressure.”
Slutskaya’s goal is to skate clean in the long, but acknowledged it would be very hard. “Probably it’s more difficult for me than for the others, because I’m Russian and compete in Russia. The pressure of the audience is very big.”
Overall, Slutskaya was pleased with her short despite it not being her best. “Basically, I never made mistakes in the short this season, but today’s performance probably was the best that I could do. I made minor mistakes, but I got high component scores. I won, so I think I was the strongest. It was hard to skate. I had a lot of competitions this season after missing the last season, and I feel my illness. But I can deal with it, that’s the most important thing.”
Cohen opened with a triple Lutz-double toeloop, but two-footed the landing on a triple flip in her Dark Eyes routine. The 20-year-old experienced a slight wobble in her level three spiral sequence, but the level two layback and combination spins were good. Despite a one point deduction for a time violation, the four-time and reigning US silver medalist earned a score of 61.37 for a second place finish in the short and overall (89.78).
“I think [the traditional Russian music] really suits me well,” said Cohen, “Especially with the Worlds being in Moscow. I enjoyed my program. I can do better, but this was a good skate.”
Cohen expressed disappointment in herself for the mistakes and time deduction. “[The deduction] is so frustrating because the last spin was going so well and I was just doing it for too long. It’s all about points and I need to make sure that I don’t give up even one point.” Of the mistake on the spiral, Cohen said: “I was on too big an arch and I was trying to hold on but I almost tripped over when I tried to switch. I was like, flip, flip, flip!”
While Cohen believed she had a good performance, she said she could do better. “I’m mad at myself about some silly mistakes, but what’s done is done, and I enjoyed myself. I had a good program, I had a good time, and I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”
Apparently during her program, there were shouts encouraging Cohen to fall. “Luckily I didn’t hear that, but it’s understandable that Russian fans are for the Russian skaters, and some people aren’t so diplomatic. It comes with the territory. You just have to focus and block out any distractions. I guess it’s good that they consider me as a threat for the title. But there are five or six strong skaters here, and with the points system, anything can happen. It’s all about skating your best and adding up the points.”
Performing to Adagio from Spartacus, Kwan opened with a double Axel followed by a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and a triple flip. The 2002 Olympic bronze medalist also displayed her trademark spiral sequence (level three) and good spins to earn a score of 61.22, placing third in the short and fifth overall (82.61).
“The new judging system was not a problem,” said the nine-time and reigning US champion. “Of course, it was new for me, but I just skated, and there is only so much you can worry about. I have analyzed the system and modified some elements according to levels.”
Kwan felt good before taking the ice for her short. “I was smiling even before the program. I said to myself, ‘Michelle, you haven’t done anything yet. Get back together and wake up!’ I just wanted to feel good on the ice, and I know I can do it. I have a lot to pick up before the long program, and this was a learning experience for me.”
Skating to selections from the Country original soundtrack, Kostner landed a triple flip-triple toeloop, a triple loop, and a double Axel, displaying good spins throughout. The Italian champion earned 60.82 points (personal best) for a fourth place finish in the short and third overall (87.27).
“I’m very happy with my performance tonight,” said Kostner. “I had a lot of fun on the ice and I hope to keep on going like that.” Kostner was also perceptive to the atmosphere and pressure of the Russian crowd. “I think I can feel what Irina [Slutskaya] and Elena [Sokolova] and every Russian [competitor] feels here.”
In her routine to Madame Butterfly, Arakawa delivered a triple Lutz-double loop combination, a spread eagle into a double Axel, and level two and three spins, but stepped out of her triple flip. The 2004-05 Grand Prix Final silver medalist earned a score of 59.95 for a fifth place finish in the short and sixth overall (85.74).
“I was very nervous today,” admitted Arakawa. “I wanted to show my best. I hope to gain more confidence for tomorrow’s free skating. I’m not so happy with my program because of the mistake on the flip. I was worrying about my jumps for a few days.”
Sokolova delivered a good short which featured a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination and level two and three spins and footwork. The 2005 Russian silver medalist earned 59.63 points (personal best) for a sixth place finish in the short and seventh overall (84.02).
“I wasn’t 100 percent in competition mood, but I’ll fight until the very end,” said Sokolova. “I’m completely satisfied with what I’ve done. It was a bit hard to skate as I skated about 40 minutes after the warmup. I’m happy that things worked out.”
Ando delivered a triple Lutz-triple loop combination, a triple flip, and a double Axel (shaky landing) to earn 59.30 points (personal best), placing seventh in the short and fourth overall (86.96).
Poykio was ninth overall (80.68) after placing eighth (56.99) in the short – a new personal best.
Rochette finished ninth in the short with a score of 56.40 (personal best) and 10th overall (80.05).
Suguri fell on a triple Lutz, placing 10th in the short (56.28) and eighth overall (83.47).
Skating to Wonderland and Whisper From the Mirror, Slutskaya opened with a triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination, a triple Salchow-double loop-double toeloop combination, and a triple loop. The two-time Olympian went on to execute three more triple jumps as well as level two and three spins and footwork, placing first in the long with 130.10 points (personal best) and overall (222.71) to win the event.
“I was really ready,” said Slutskaya, “and those mistakes I did yesterday, I don’t know, I almost couldn’t stop crying, and I’m still crying now. That’s not me. I just did what I can do. I did it! I wished to do it all season, and now I did it. I’m so happy. For the first time I won each competition I entered. I’m very happy, because I think nobody else in this hard championship had to come back so many times and through so many hard moments like I did.”
Slutskaya was unable to describe her feelings. “This is probably the dearest medal of my collection. I think nobody else at this world championships has gone through that I’ve been through, who has been sick and isn’t yet completely recovered and to win at home.”
During her routine, Slutskaya was so excited about her triple Lutz-triple loop combination that she forgot she had already landed a loop. “I was penalized for that [no points for the third loop], but basically it wasn’t reflected so much, but I could have had a few more points.”
Slutskaya had tears in her eyes during her footwork sequence. At the end of her program, the 2004-05 Grand Prix Final Champion was unable to contain the emotion she felt. “I stopped, and all the stress came out. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t think. I just stood there. I understood this was my very best performance and I couldn’t believe that I did it right now in this moment, in this competition, where I needed it.”
Cohen produced a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip-double toeloop-double toeloop combination, and five more triple jumps. However, the 2002 Olympian had a shaky landing on the triple flip and fell out of the landing of a triple toeloop-triple Salchow sequence. Despite the errors, the 2003-04 Grand Prix Final silver medalist displayed good level two and three spins as well as a level three spiral sequence, earning a score of 124.61 for a second place finish in the long and overall (214.39).
“I’m really happy with myself,” said Cohen, who admitted to being nervous. “I couldn’t get warm jogging. Then in the locker room, I realized that everyone else already had their skates on.”
Cohen was also happy with the total points she received. “I thought about one element at a time and I fought really hard. I feel I could have skated a little bit better and it would have been nice to move up to the gold this year from silver last year, but considering working with the new system and skating against so many strong skaters, I’m proud of myself.”
In terms of next season, Cohen will be trying to improve her knowledge on the new scoring system and how to apply it to her programs. “It’s going to have to be a lot of work with the point system, to take advantage of every possible point and just executing flawlessly. It’s tough but I put my heart and soul into training this year and I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do.”
Kwan landed a triple flip-double toeloop-double loop combination as well as a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, but fell on a triple Salchow and two-footed the landing of a triple Lutz in her Bolero routine. The 2004 World bronze medalist earned a score of 113.98 for a third place finish in the long and fourth overall (200.19).
“Well, what can I say,” said the US veteran skater. “I made two mistakes. It could happen. You cannot always be perfect. I guess the only thing is to go home and work harder. But my goal was to improve my performance from the qualifying round and to enjoy myself and I did it.”
Regarding the judging system, Kwan said, “I’ve got first experience with the new system. It is interesting. I have learned many things. I still have a lot of work to do on the spins, steps and transitions. I would like to bring them up to level three.”
Kostner landed a triple flip-triple toeloop-double loop combination and a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination in her routine to Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 1 and 3. The 2004 Trophee Eric Bompard silver medalist landed three more triples, but doubled a loop, stepped out of the landing on the Salchow on a double Axel-triple Salchow sequence, and stepped out of the landing of the last double Axel. With a score of 113.29 (personal best), Kostner placed fourth in the long and third overall (200.56) to win the bronze.
“I am so glad that I’ve finished all my programs pretty well,” said Kostner, who said she was speechless when she learned she had won the bronze. “I’m very happy that it is all over now. I just want to enjoy the rest of my time here in Moscow.” Kostner went on to say that it had been a very tough week, both physically and mentally. “That is why I think I’ve doubled my loop. Then I tried to focus again on my program, but it was very difficult to do so. The problems I had at Cup of Russia here in Moscow didn’t matter anymore today. I didn’t think about it. The whole competition here was a great experience for me.”
Kostner, who is looking forward skating in her home country for the Olympics, spoke of what would be one of her most memorable moments of this event. “I will never forget the feeling I had while stepping on the ice. I have never had an experience like that. All the cheering I got coming in and going out. I am very pleased about that.”
Suguri delivered a good performance to Carmen, landing four clean triples, but doubled a Lutz and double-footed the landing of a flip on a triple flip-double toeloop combination. The three-time and reigning Four Continents champion earned a score of 112.54 for a fifth place finish in the long and overall (196.01).
“I am happy with the way I skated today,” said Suguri. “I made a minor mistake, but I am satisfied with the program as whole, with skating itself, you know, like ‘skating skills’. The audience cheered for me and I am happy.”
Poykio put out a fairly clean performance, but doubled a flip in her Romeo and Juliet routine, earning a score of 106.99 (personal best) for a sixth place finish in the long and eighth overall (187.67).
Ando fell out of a triple flip and encountered a slip during her straight-line footwork sequence. She finished seventh (106.18) in the long and sixth overall (193.14).
Sokolova earned a score of 105.46 (personal best) for an eighth place finish in the long and seventh overall (189.48), while Shizuka fell to ninth overall (185.73) after placing ninth in the long (99.99).
“I think I was not mentally prepared for the competition,” said Arakawa, who was sixth after the short program. “After last year [at Worlds], I wanted to turn professional, but I stayed amateur. I started my preparations for this season too late. I hope I will do better next year.”