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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 01:23 PM

Kwan in Eye of the Storm

Veteran Skater Is Composed, Reflective About Medals, Life

The pixies are out on the ice today, their sparkles sparkling, their spangles all spangled, their ruffles fluffed to exact specifications. This is just a practice, but it is the last practice before the ladies singles figure skating competition begins Tuesday, and the judges are here watching. So it is important to look just so.

http://www.washingto...-2002Feb18.html

#2 Colleen

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 04:31 PM

Ah Michelle. She's just fantastic. I'm mesmerized just reading her words. When she first came onto the scene amidst the US Nationals Kerrigan scandal I was stunned by her abilities and upset that she didn't win the competition. She certainly outclassed and outskated Tonya Harding, but the judges wanted a ladies' champion not a girls' champion as one commentator mused. I'm really hoping she skates with her heart this time. It could make all the difference in the world.

Oh, and Sarah Hughes' hair is too short. In the spirit of some of the other Washington Post articles, that should be an automatic 0.3 deduction tongue.gif

#3 vagansmom

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 07:12 PM

I'm so looking forward to this competition. I don't know why everyone says that it's Kwan's to lose. According to this article, "Russian rival Irina Slutskaya has beaten her in every major head-to-head event this year, mostly on the strength of superior programs. Sounds to me like it's SLUTSKAYA'S to lose, not Michelle's. I hasten to add I much prefer Kwan's skating. She's such a complete skater although I do think that as she's grown older, she's lost a little confidence in her jumping ability. When she first arrived on the senior lady's scene, her jumping seemed fearless. While she's still a slender, slightly built person, her body has matured in the ensuing years and it seems that she's not regained that absolute confidence.

But what artistry and musicality! When Kwan is "on", the music flows from every part of her body. The same can be said for Sasha Cohen. I'm hoping that her long program isn't the same as it was for Nationals. I was very disappointed in that one. Her short program being flawless, I had high hopes for an equally artistic long program. I thought that, other than her amazing jumps, it was a lightweight program - very little in between the jumps.

One really has to give a lot of credit to Slutskaya. This young woman has completely reinvented herself as a skater. She'll never have the artistry of a Kwan or a Cohen but she's certainly come a long, long way in a few short years. For several years she was the Timothy Goebel of female skating - all jumps and nothing else. She changed everything about herself and her skating: hair, costumes, but most of all her training and her choreography. I know that I spend a lot of time on her shortcomings but we really should admire Slutskaya for her ability to make major changes in her skating. How many other people are able to do so as well?

And then there's Sarah Hughes. To me, she's the real underdog, even more so than Cohen. Hughes's coltishness makes her skating uneven but she's grown so much so quickly that it's hard to say from one program to the next how different her skating might be. I have a feeling that the stability, when it arrives, will be sudden and dramatic. While she doesn't appear to have that inborn musicality, she does seem to be a tenaciously quick study. I imagine her as the gangly teenager who suddenly grows up. I'm waiting.

#4 Colleen

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 09:18 PM

I have to agree about Irina. A few years ago she was really struggling with her jumps and especially her artistry. But now she's really good, her jumps are impeccable and her spins are quite good. She's not as smooth as Michelle or Sasha, but she's more polished than Sarah H. and can certainly win gold with a clean performance.

#5 Victoria Leigh

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 09:56 PM

I thought Sasha was awesome tonight! She is very special. Just pure talent. Michelle is still wonderful and such a joy to watch. Huges is very fine, too, but I don't think she is quite there yet. She did very well tonight though. Irina has come a long way, but she does not have the fluidity and the artistry of Kwan. It will come down to the long program there. If Kwan is clean, she should win it. If not....well, it's up for grabs. Sasha is right there and could do it. Less pressure on one of her age, like with Tara Lipinski. I don't think Irina can compete with Michelle in the long program, if both skate clean.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 10:07 PM

Kwan was outstanding in her short program. Her initial triple/double combination was smooth as silk, and the triple flip where she slipped off her toe on takeoff, and still landed the thing - I didn't think that could be done! There is nothing like her final spirals. I'm not really a partisan, here, but I seldom see things that impress me as much as she did with this short program. smile.gif

#7 vagansmom

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Posted 19 February 2002 - 11:44 PM

I am truly disappointed. I missed Sasha Cohen's short program! frown.gif My watch was 10 minutes slow. Can anyone tell me if it was the same program as the one she did for the Nationals? That was a lovely short program. I don't think I've ever seen a skater with her level of artistry combined with athletics. Her jumps are so assured and her skating has such a lovely balletic quality.

Michelle did a nice job but I didn't find it inspiring. In fact, I actually thought that Slutskaya skated better. She had such wonderful speed, her jumps had their usual solidness, and overall her program seemed harder. I prefer Michelle's style but in my attempt to be truly objective, I think that Irina's was the stronger program.

Hughes was OK, not great, but OK. Still a rising talent who hasn't yet hit her stride.

#8 sylvia

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 05:37 AM

I thought it was a fantastic competition, lots of very clean skates. Sasha was incredible, really lovely to watch. I love that spiral sequence. Her marks surprised me a little for someone skating so early but I think she's her final placement was right. Michelle, I enjoyed this program more in Nagano, but it was great here too. I would have put Slutskaya first though. She's not too far behind in presentation to Kwan - her spirals have improved a lot! - and the difficulty of her jumps and footwork were superior (and this is the short program after all). If she does all those difficult jump combinations she's been practicing and skates clean I think she could win.

I was a bit disappointed that Butyrskaya came behind Sarah Hughes. Butyrskaya has such incredible artistry but she seemed slow and her landings very stiff. Sarah's skating makes me a little uncomfortable - that 'coltish' quality that has been mentioned. She's been around for a couple years now and while her presentation is better, the quality of her jumps hasn't changed at all (flutzing, under-rotation). VERY disappointed that Viktoria Volchkova underperformed. She has the most beautiful jumps out there and usually does well in SPs but she looked completely out of sorts on the ice.

#9 sylvia

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 05:44 AM

And here's the draw for the free skate.

19 BUTYRSKAYA Maria RUS 5 2.5
20 HUGHES Sarah USA 4 2.0
21 SEBESTYEN Julia HUN 6 3.0
22 COHEN Sasha USA 3 1.5
23 KWAN Michelle USA 1 0.5
24 SLUTSKAYA Irina RUS 2 1.0

Honestly, why did they put a day between the SP and FP? I really can't wait!

And a BBC link on a little technical analysis of the short

http://news.bbc.co.u...000/1830770.stm

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]



#10 vagansmom

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 07:18 AM

I did read that Butyrskaya had an appendectomy in November. If true, that could account for her slowness and heaviness during her skate. She's usually a much stronger short program skater. She looked tired.

#11 Melissa

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 09:03 AM

I was wowed by Sasha Cohen last night. This is her first major international competition and she performed with poise and showed no fear at all. Her spirals and extensions are gorgeous, and that lay back spin was lovely. What a talent!

I was taken aback by Slutskaya'a performance. She has grown so much as an artist and her athleticism was beyond question. Her one-legged footwork sequence was the best of all the ladies and her jumps were rock solid.

Michelle's performance was good, but not 'inspired', to quote Sandra Bezic. She just squeaked by Irina in the ordinals. I think Michelle must skate the performance of her life on Thursday night or hope that Slutskaya makes serious mistakes in order to win the gold. Michelle is the superior artist, but she needs to generate more speed and momentum in her program, as well as skate cleanly, to beat Slutskaya. Slutskaya's a real threat I'm afraid. It would be great if Michelle took gold and Sasha took silver, but that may not happen.

[ February 20, 2002: Message edited by: Melissa ]



#12 Natalia

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 11:08 AM

Victoria et. al. - I totally agree with your opinions of the delightful Sasha Cohen. What a gorgeous dancer...er...skater! And she's feisty as can be, too - not just the prim little peggy Fleming ice princess type, LOL! Michelle and Irina were also wonderful. Hughes - not bad either.

During the past few days, I have learned to be patient & grateful for the 'crumbs' thrown our way by NBC. I mean - we actually got to see Russia's powerful #3 lady Viktoria Volchkova (who self destructed...too bad) & the lyrical Galina mMniachenko of Ukraine (also self destructed). But - hey! - am I being too greedy to ask to have seen the skate of the 6th lady to make the final group, Hungary's little dynamo, Julia Sebestyen? I am also sorry that NBC did not show Japan's balletic Fumie Suguri either; she did quite well - in 7th or 8th place, I think. Well, at least we'll probably get to see Sebestyen's long program tomorrow, as NBC has been showing all of the skaters in the final warm-up groups, in the other events (pairs, men, dance).

#13 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 11:22 AM

i know i've mentioned it before, but when they experimented with pay-per-view for complete (gavel to gavel, one might say) coverage of events, i really enjoyed seeing every single competitor over a period of a couple of hours. i like seeing the ones who aren't as good too. i feel the same way about ballet competitions.

#14 Natalia

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 12:58 PM

NBC tried the pay-for-view option for the Barcelona '92 Olympics...perhaps also for Atlanta '96? Why did they stop offering this option - did it 'bomb' financially - or were advertisers on the regular network upset that it would lure too many viewers away from watching their commercials? I don't think that it's ever been done for a Winter Olympics. There is such a craze for ice skating that I bet that NBC would make money on it. And we would be spared the 'cultural hot tub' advertisements on NBC! [Actually, I like the 'hot tub' series of ads...very clever...as well as the Bank of America 'athlete-wanna-be' series.]

#15 dirac

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Posted 20 February 2002 - 01:06 PM

Very impressed by Slutskaya last night. No, she'll never be Miss Seamless Flow, but she has worked very hard and improved her presentation immeasurably. Amazing the way she gets into the air for her jumps. I thought the night was hers, and Cohen's. However, it's the short program, and all anyone wants to do is not fall down, be in position for a medal,and get off the ice. All the girls in the lead did what they needed to do, although Sarah Hughes must be more than a little disappointed. Kwan was far from her best, I thought, and benefited from the save-the-best-marks-for-last mindset. Admired her spunk in pulling out that triple flip, but can't say a lot more than that.


Interesting to note that the NBC commentators, who have been voluble on the subject of possible judging irregularities, were mum last night, preferring instead to favor us with insights into Michelle's Renewed Joy in Her Skating.


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