|18||David del Pozo||MEX||18||18|
J1: Mr. Hideo Sugita, JPN
J2: Mrs. Susan Lynch, AUS
J3: Mrs. Hely Abbondati, FIN
J4: Mr. Jiasheng Yang, CHN
J5: Mrs. Rita Zonnekeyn, BEL
J6: Mr. Paolo, Pizzocari, ITA
J7: Mrs. SUsan Johnson, USA
Going into the long program all the pundits thought that Takeshi Honda could not sustain his short program performance in the long - but they were wrong. He did not attempt a potential quad toe loop. Instead he landed eight triple jumps including an opening triple Axel - triple toe loop from which he derived great satisfaction, saying "I landed the triple Axel - triple toe ... I'm so happy. I did a clean program. I was so nervous, but I had to do a clean program. NHK trophy was my best performance but today the triple Axel - triple toe was more important to me." His injured left ankle was bothering him during the day's practice, but when it counted in the competition he delivered a smooth relaxed performance.
Chengjiang Li moved up to second place after finishing fourth in the short program. He landed one of the three quad toe loops of the long program in a quad toe loop - triple toe loop combination. It was his opening element and he followed it immediately with a triple Axel - triple toe loop combination. He landed a total of seven triples, falling on the triple Lutz. Although it has not been officially decided, it appears that he will be the Chinese entry in the World Championships. This week he clearly was the best of the three Chinese men competing here.
Elvis Stojko repeated his third place finish in the short program with a third place finish in the long. In the opening section of his program he two footed a quad toe loop and then popped a triple Axel to a single. He decided to modify his program, and after landing a triple loop substituted a triple Axel - triple toe loop for a planned second quad toe loop. He skated clean from the triple loop onward landing a total of seven triples. His strategy paid off by averting disaster if he had missed the second attempt at quad toe loop and giving a strong clean performance for the majority of the program. Choreographically. his "Merlin" routine is yet another superficial construction with no real meat to it. Fortunately, he is a great athlete and that keeps him in contention for the podium. Unfortunately, Europeans and this competition have demonstrated that there are now about ten men capable of landing a quad and athleticism alone in not enough in the men's event.
The two other quad toe loops of the competition were landed by Zhengxin Guo ( a solo effort), and Anthony Liu (a quad toe loop - triple toe loop). Guo, the former Chinese Champions and their representative at Worlds the past few years, was upstaged here by the other two Chinese men. Both Zhang and Li have the same big tricks as Guo and in addition their basic skating and presentation are superior to Guo.
Two of the three U.S. men improved their placements in the short program. The best result came from Shepherd Clark who placed fifth in the long program with five triples and a program with too few connecting moves and too much skating the length of the ice end-to-end. Trifun Zivanovic landed five triple, one an improvised triple toe loop at the end of the program. He landed one triple Axel, but fell on another, and came close to landing a quad toe loop - two footing the effort. Tim Goebel struggled again landing four triples. He missed attempts at five other triples or quads.
At the start of the week it was clear that the men's event was the only one that would offer any serious high level competition, and the short program has confirmed that. Further, most predictions coming into the event have proved wrong. For starters, Takeshi Honda was the surprise leader in the short program. After a mediocre season last year and an ankle injury prior to Japanese Nationals in mid-January, he skated a strong clean program to music composed for this routine. He landed triple Axel - triple toe loop, triple Lutz, and double Axel without difficulty and skated a smooth sure routine.
The surprise second place man was Min Zhang of China. He landed triple Axel - triple toe loop with a small reach for the ice on the toe loop, quadruple toe loop, and double Axel. He is the first skater to land a quad jump in the short program in an ISU competition. Like so many of the Chinese skaters today his technical skills are far advanced over his presentation but he is secure enough on his feet now to say what out for this guy in the future.
In third place was Elvis Stojko, in what some observers called a gift. He landed triple Axel - double toe loop and double Axel. On quad toe loop he two footed and turned out of the jump. Choreographically the routine was typical Stojko - the slow skating, shuffling feet, and standing in place. He was clearly outskated by at least one, if not two other men.
One of these was Chengjiang Li. Li landed a huge triple Axel - triple toe loop, triple loop, and double Axel. His presentation lacked the sophistication typical of the Chinese skater but he deserves a lot of credit for his well executed jumps and spins and his speed over the ice.
The short program was not kind to the other two Canadian men and all three U.S. men. Hebert made two major errors on the jump combination and solo jump, as did Sandhu. Both skaters appeared to have obtained their music at the same horrible-music store. Sandhu's was particularly bad. In fact it was barley music at all, almost nothing more than a random beating on a drum. It would have been better watching a practice session with no music at all.
Not a clean program was to be found among the three U.S. men. Trifun Zivanovic stepped out of triple flip and omitted the second jump of the combination. He then turned out on triple Axel. Shepherd Clark fell on triple Axel and then landed triple Lutz - double toe loop, and the double Axel. He was the best of the three U.S. men in the short program. Timothy Goebel was a disaster, which came as no surprise after watching him wipe up the ice in the warm-up. On triple flip - triple toe loop he stepped out of the triple flip and dragged the free toe on the checkout of the triple toe loop. He fell on triple Axel and triple Lutz. This is not a good sign either for tomorrow, or for Worlds next month.
|18||David del Pozo||17||17||18||18||18||18||17||0||3|
|18||David del Pozo||17||18||18||16||15||17||18||0||7|
Return to Title Page