Skate Canada

Ladies Event

By Lynn Rutherford

Place Skater Country SP FS
1 Sasha Cohen USA 1 1
2 Shizuka Arakawa JPN 3 2
3 Julia Sebestyen HUN 4 3
4 Yukina Ota JPN 2 4
5 Jennifer Robinson CAN 10 5
6 Annie Bellemare CAN 8 6
7 Alisa Drei FIN 9 7
8 Tatiana Basova RUS 6 8
9 Elena Sokolova RUS 5 9
10 Joannie Rochette CAN 7 10
11 Candice Didier FRA 11 11


Short Program

Starting Order - Short Program
  1. Sasha Cohen
  2. Shizuka Arakawa
  3. Candice Didier
  4. Elena Sokolova
  5. Yukina Ota
  6. Jennifer Robinson
  7. Tatiana Basova
  8. Joannie Rochette
  9. Julia Sebestyen
  10. Annie Bellemare
  11. Alisa Drei


Short Program Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Sasha Cohen USA
2 Yukina Ota JPN
3 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
4 Julia Sebestyen HUN
5 Elena Sokolova RUS
6 Tatiana Basova RUS
7 Joannie Rochette CAN
8 Annie Bellemare CAN
9 Alisa Drei FIN
10 Jennifer Robinson CAN
11 Candice Didier FRA

Fresh off her win at Skate America last week, Sasha Cohen's ascending star burned brightly once again, this time at the Hershey Arena in Mississauga, Ontario. 

Skating to last season's "Malaguena" short program, which she and her coach, Tatiana Tarasova, have decided to use for a second year, the 19 year-old American hit every element, including a clean triple Lutz (Cohen changed to an inside edge prior to takeoff, but still received a GOE of .40), double toe loop combination; triple flip; double Axel; lovely layback spin and spectacular spiral sequence. Her only flaw - and this is truly nitpicking - appear to be a slight wobble on the exit of her flying camel spin.

Cohen earned 71.12 total points for her performance, 4.56 points more than she earned at last week's Skate America short program competition, where she had a slight misstep on her combination jump.

"I'm happy with my performance. It was a clean program, and an improvement on my point total at Skate America," said Cohen. "I didn't make a mistake on my combination."

She continues to be positive about the new "Code of Points" judging system.  "It's great to see the judges' breakdowns and find out which elements I need to work on," she said. 

Second place went to Japan's Yukina Ota, who nearly stole the show with her graceful moves and powerful jumps. The 16 year-old Kyoto native opened with a strong triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, and followed up with a triple flip, a flying camel and the most explosive double Axel of the night. Beyond her jumping ability, the 2003 World junior champion showed a lovely back position and fine extension on her spirals. Ota takes 63.90 total points into tomorrow's free program.

"I'm satisfied with today's performance. I think I did my very best," she 

Ota's countrywoman Shizuka Arakawa claimed third place with her "Umbrellas of Cherbourg" program. The 21 year-old, who now trains with Richard Callaghan in the Detroit area, faltered slightly on the landing of her triple Lutz and had to take an extra step before executing a double toe loop. She earned 58.20 total points for the performance.

"I'm a little upset I could not do my triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination," said Arakawa through an interpreter. "I did it in practice and warm-up. Maybe it will be in my free program tomorrow."

Julia Sebastyen of Hungary was close behind Arakawa with 57.62 total points, racking up fine "grade of execution" points with her huge triple flip (GOE of 1.2) and triple Lutz, double toe loop combination (GOE of .80; in contrast, Cohen's combination received a GOE of .40). The 22 year-old had less success on her double Axel, fighting for the landing and pitching forward awkwardly. 

Russian Elena Sokolova, the 2003 World silver medalist, did not appear to be in top shape, skating a slow, careful program that included an under rotated, two-footed triple Lutz, double toe loop combination (-.62 GOE); a slightly awkward triple loop (-.20); and mediocre spirals and spins. Her finest elements were a strong double Axel and tricky circular step sequence. Sokolova, who finished in fifth place, takes 51.86 total points into the free program.

Tatiana Basova, a tall, blonde 19 year-old from St. Petersburg who placed third at last year's Russian Nationals, opened with a clean triple Lutz, double toe loop combination but popped her next jump, an intended triple flip, into an over rotated single. (Under Code of Points, the single flip was assigned a base value of .5 and a GOE of -.28.) Basova, who is coached by Alexei Mishin, went on to execute the only spiral sequence of the night to receive a level three degree of difficulty. (Cohen's spirals rated only a level two.) Basova earned 51.26 total points for her short program, putting her in sixth place.

Canadian Joannie Rochette opened her program with a powerful double Axel but faltered on her triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, under rotating the Lutz and taking a hard fall. She recovered with a strong triple flip and attractive layback spin, before closing her program with a rather weak combination spin. Rochette sits seventh going into the free.

Annie Bellemare, also of Canada, got off to a good start with a fine triple Lutz, double toe loop combination, but pitched forward on the landing of her triple flip and had to fight to maintain her balance. The 23 year-old, who lives and trains in Vancouver, also slipped on the landing of her double Axel, putting both hands down on the ice. She finished eighth with 50.54 total points.

Veteran competitor Alisa Drei of Finland had a wild landing on her triple Lutz, and then two-footed the landing of her double toe loop. On her next jump, a triple loop, she put both hands down on the ice. Drei is in ninth place with 49 total points. Five-time Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson had an off night, two-footing the landing of her triple Lutz, double toe loop combination and landing her triple flip with a wildly swinging free leg. She sits 10th with 47.78 total points. Candice Didier, the 15 year-old French champion, hit a triple flip, double toe loop combination and double Axel, but received negative GOE scores on all of her other elements. Her 44.96 points put her in 11th, and last, place. 


Free Skating

Starting Order - Free Skating
  1. Annie Bellemare
  2. Alisa Drei
  3. Joannie Rochette
  4. Candice Didier
  5. Jennifer Robinson
  6. Sasha Cohen
  7. Yukina Ota
  8. Tatiana Basova
  9. Elena Sokolova
  10. Julia Sebestyen
  11. Shizuka Arakawa


Free Skating Placements
Place Skater Country
1 Sasha Cohen USA
2 Shizuka Arakawa JPN
3 Julia Sebestyen HUN
4 Yukina Ota JPN
5 Jennifer Robinson CAN
6 Annie Bellemare CAN
7 Alisa Drei FIN
8 Tatiana Basova RUS
9 Elena Sokolova RUS
10 Joannie Rochette CAN
11 Candice Didier FRA

American Sasha Cohen continued her march to the forefront of ladies' figure skating with a winning, if imperfect, performance of her "Swan Lake" free program this evening at the Hershey Arena.

On a night where no skater turned in a clean (or near-clean) performance, Cohen's five triples - none completed in combination - and trademark elegant spirals, spins and footwork were enough to earn 126.48 points, lower than the total for her Skate America free program last week. However, her stronger short program here put her overall point score for Skate Canada to 197.60, higher than her total at Skate America and a new "world record" for ladies.

"I certainly didn't plan to go out there and not complete a combination," said Cohen. "But it was tough doing these competitions back-to-back. I did the best I could under the circumstances.

"I'm going home now and I'm glad I have a little time to prepare for my next competition (Trophee Lalique)."

Japan's Shizuka Arakawa opened her Turandot program with a wonderful triple Lutz, triple toe loop combination (base value of 10.6 and GOE of 1.6), followed by a strong triple Salchow. Then the trouble started: she faltered on her next jump, a triple flip, with a slight step out before tacking on an (unplanned) double toe loop; then put her hands down on a triple loop. She closed strongly with a spread eagle sequence into a triple Lutz, a lovely layback spin and a triple toe loop. Arakawa earned 123.99 for her free program, and her 182.19 points put her second overall.

"I'm delighted with the triple, triple, but the triple loop was a bit of a screw up," said Arakawa's coach, Richard Callaghan. "She doesn't like the jump, but we're certainly going to be working on it."

Displaying a new, elegant style in her tango program, choreographed by the ubiquitous Nikolai Morozov, Julia Sebastyen of Hungary had one of her better free programs of recent years. She opened with a huge triple Salchow, then fell out of her second jump, a triple Lutz, that was so high she appeared to have difficulty controlling the landing. She recovered quickly with a gorgeous triple loop done out of three turns, and a triple toe loop, double toe loop combination and a triple flip, before doubling her final jump, a Lutz. She earned a total 165.22 points, good enough for third place and her first Grand Prix medal.

"I like to skate this new style. I think it suits me, because it is outgoing," said Sebastyen, who said she was looking forward to competing in her "home town" of Budapest for the 2004 European championships.

Japan's Yukina Ota, second after the short program, faltered on her jumps in the free, but continued to impress with her balletic movements, graceful arms and charming personality on the ice. Her most notable highlight was a gorgeous Ina Bauer across half the length of the ice. Yukina fell to fourth place here, but promises well for the future, if she can break out of the logjam of superior ladies in Japan.

After an abysmal short program, Canadian champion Jennifer Robinson redeemed herself with a commendable version of her new "Afternoon of the Faun" free program, choreographed by Lori Nichol. She hit four clean triples and earned a total of 144.89 points, good enough for fifth place.

Canadian Annie Bellemare, who placed sixth overall, had one of her better outings here, opening with a strong double Axel, followed by a triple Lutz, double toe loop combination; a triple flip; and a triple toe loop. Although she doubled and two-footed her second triple Lutz, she closed her program with a strong spread eagle into a triple Salchow. 

After Bellemare, the quality of the programs dropped off precipitously. Alisa Drei of Finland fell twice, hitting only three clean triples in her adagio program, and placed seventh. Tatiana Basova of Russia was eighth; her program had no notable elements, except for a difficult spiral sequence that included a fully extended catch-foot position, but was nevertheless poorly executed. 

The less said about 2003 World silver medalist Elena Sokolova's performance, the better. Suffice to say it was an evening the Russian would rather forget, as she failed to land any secure triple jumps. She finished ninth. Joannie Rochette of Canada was 10th, and French champion Candice Didier was 11th.


2003 Skate Canada Ladies Medalists


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