Saturday, 10 February
The competition ended today with the skating of the ladies long program. Last year's gold medalist, Angela Nikodinova made a dramatic move from seventh in the short program to second overall to win the silver medal. The gold was taken by Fumie Suguri of Japan. In a highly compressed schedule the exhibition was held in the evening instead of on the usual Sunday afternoon. Attendance was approximately 2400 for the ladies event and 4000 for the exhibition - with the official tally inflated by about 50%.
This event has been a dress rehearsal for the 2002 Olympic Games and has been operated in the manner it will be next February. Staff from around the U.S. who will be working the event next year were brought in for the rehearsal.
Overall it has been a successful event. From the skaters' points of view it has gone well. They like the quality of the ice and the venue, and have gotten a chance to get a feel for the city, the altitude, and the building. The most common complaint was that the arena is unusually warm and dry compared to other venues. The sight lines in the arena are poor, but have nothing to do with the quality or conditions of the competition. A few skaters, however, have noted that it is a little odd skating in a pit about 10 feet below the level of the spectators. Spectators in 2002, however, are in a different boat. They have to accept the the poor seating arrangement as part of a compromise they must make for the opportunity to see Olympic skating, even if it means watching it on TV in the arena for up to $400 a session.
While the staff working the arena has done a great job, the same cannot be said of ABC. The crew from ABC, never known for its humility or willingness to cooperate with other people or priorities at a skating event have been particularly arrogant, uncooperative, and surly. Fortunately, they will not be in a position to repeat this next year since NBC, mercifully, is the TV rights holder for the Olympics.
Friday, 9 February
The dance and men's events finished today with Naomi Lang & Peter Tchernyshev winning the silver medal. In the men's event Michael Weiss moved up to win the bronze medal. Todd, Eldredge, the leader in the men's event after the short program withdrew after skating the warmup.
Eldredge jammed his left ankle in practice on Wednesday and received treatment and physical therapy on Thursday. Following practice today, the ankle was drained and he was given a local anesthetic. During the event, at about 8 p.m. he again was given a local anesthetic. He skated he warmup but afterwards decided to withdraw from the competition.
Thursday, 8 February
This afternoon the ice dance event continued with original dance, and the pairs event finished up with the free skating. In the evening the ladies event got underway with 32 competitors flogging their way through the short programs over a four hour period. The attendance of students from area schools again provided a spirited audience for the afternoon events, but in the evening attendance again dropped off substantially. The official count had attendance at about 2100 for the evening session but someone must be cooking the books. An unofficial head count during the interminable waits for the marks during the ladies short program came up with about half that number, and of those about half did not stick it out to the end.
Wednesday, 7 February
The competitive events began with the skating of the compulsory dances and the pairs and men's short programs. For the dance and pairs a large group of school kids were brought in to provide some sort of audience for the skating, but the evening was another story. Virtually no one was present for the opening ceremony. The official attendance was slightly over 2000 but during the men's event there weren't enough bodies to fill the seats in even two sections of the lower bowl, about 600 people.
The controversy over sight lines in the Delta Center has flared up again. Last week the ISU issued a strongly worded press release that said that the ISU's responsibility was limited to technical maters such as judges, officials, schedule, ice quality, etc. and that venue selection and spectator issues were not its concern. In other words, its not their fault and its not their problem.
Due to the design of the arena, only spectators in the first five rows of the lower bowl and the first three rows of the upper bowl have an unobstructed view of the full ice surface. For everyone else, approximately the first 10-15 feet of the ice surface on the side closest to their seat is not visible. To compensate, Jubmbotrons will be placed in the arena so ticket holders can watch the competition on TV.
When U.S. Nationals was held here in 1999 screens were placed at each end of the arena, but were turned off for some skaters who found them a distraction; e.g. Michelle Kwan. For the Olympics, four screens will be placed on the scoreboard in the center of the arena. This location will eliminate potential distraction for the skaters but will make them difficult to see from the seats in the lower bowl. Ticket holders in the most expensive seats will find themselves in the unappealing position in which they will not be able to see the full ice surface and will not be able to see the Jumbotrons either.
Return to Title Page