|7||Tony Sabrina Bombardieri||ITA|
In the first clash of the new season between Kwan and Lipinski, Kwan came out on top crushing Lipinski in the Short Program on both the first and second mark. Kwan has "won" every practice this week, but gave some pause in the warmup struggling with the combination, stumbling in footwork, and falling on double Axel. When it came time to do it when it counted, though, she was near perfection. She landed her triple Lutz - double toe, double Axel, and triple toe without a hitch and completed all the other elements without errors. The program was dynamic, with two great footwork sequences and outstanding presentation. She received the first full standing ovation of the competition. Her technical marks were 5.7/8's and her presentation marks were all 5.9's.
Lipinski skated immediately after Kwan. She skated an attractive, confident program landing triple Lutz - double loop, double Axel, and triple flip. Although a well constructed program, the overall quality of the program, while excellent, was clearly a notch below Kwan. In terms of her presentation, she clearly has improved since Worlds, but she still is not in the same class as Kwan. She received a wide range of marks for technical merit, 5.5-5.8's, and received presentation marks of 5.7/8's, and managed to grab only one first place ordinal from Kwan.
Up until the last skater, it looked as though the US might sweep the Short Program but Lavrenchuk took third place with a program which included triple Lutz - double toe, double Axel, and triple flip. All her elements were well done, and the presentation was respectable, if somewhat restrained. The same comments apply to Nikodinov who did the same jumps as Lavrenchuk and also had a capable but low-key performance - leaving third and fourth place pretty much a toss up.
Julia Lautowa did a decent job, but turned out of the first jump on her triple Lutz - double toe combination, and had a weak check out on her triple flip. Sokolova gave a lively presentation with a lot of charm, but fell on the opening triple Lutz of her combination. She went on to land the double Axel and a triple loop. Bombardieri gave a lovely performance of her program and landed triple Lutz - double toe, double Axel, and triple loop. Although free of deductions, the quality of her jumps was not up to the others, and the triple loop was particularly weak. Derochie had an awful practice today, but did a somewhat better job during the competition. She landed double Lutz - double toe, double Axel, and triple toe. More troublesome than the simplicity of her elements, she was slow, slow, slow.
|10||Tony Sabrina Bombardieri||ITA||7||10|
Michelle Kwan finished her conquest of Skate America with a near flawless performance. She was solid and she was confident. The Kwanster is back - "out of her coma" as she later said. She landed seven triple jumps, but left out the triple toe - triple toe combination that is planned for this program. There was no hint of trouble or doubt on the triple Lutz which plagued her last season, and she landed two in the program. She received straight 5.8 marks for the first mark and straight 5.9 marks for the second mark. She received another full standing ovation at the conclusion of the program. With four more months of polish, this program is unbeatable if skated cleanly.
Skating two spots after Kwan, Tara Lipinski gave a gutsy performance landing six triples, including her triple loop - triple loop, but fell on the opening triple Lutz of her first combination. She took of tilted and there was no way for her to pull it off once she was into the air. In addition, she also made a minor error in her final jump sequence, having to insert several extra steps between the two jumps, but still managing to land both the triple toe and the triple Salchow. She looked the most mature in this program that she ever has, but she is still relying on her jumps to capture the day in Nagano.
Up until the last skater it looked as though the US might sweep the Ladies event, but in the end Elena Sokolova slipped in for the bronze after a poor showing in the short program. She made numerous mistakes and adjustments to her program, but still managed to land four triple jumps, while skating with energy and enthusiasm. Angela Nikodinov, on the other hand, landed three triples of her own, but stepped out of triple loop, put a hand down on triple Salchow and double a triple toe. Add to that her characteristic restrained presentation (except for the closing section) and the result was pretty clear.
Yulia Lavrenchuk started out strong landing triple Lutz, triple loop, and triple toe, but faded quickly following the opening third of the program. She went on to single a double Axel and a triple Salchow, and then landed only a triple toe - double toe in the last section of the program. The middle section was particularly boring and overall she skated without much emotion. After skating well in the Short Program she dropped to fifth in the long to end up fifth overall.
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