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Worlds 2003: Ice Dance finals; Ladies Short Programs (3/28)


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Oh, Canada!!! The Maple Leaf flags flew high at MCI Center, as Canada's Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz FINALLY won their long-awaited world title, despite a perfect 6.0 mark awarded to dethroned champions, Irina Lobacheva/Ilya Averbuch of Russia. In a night of, IMO, less-than-inspired free dances, as well as hideously tasteless costumes, B&K were truly the best.

Somebody please remind me to skip the first flight of ice dancers if I ever return to a Worlds...the difference in quality between the lower and higher-ranked teams is much more marked in ice dance than it is in the singles and pairs categories. It wasn't until the Italian team took to the ice that the ice began to sparkle (see below).

The final standings:

1 Shae-Lynn BOURNE / Victor KRAATZ CAN - Albinoni Adagio for the 21st Century (Sarah Brightman vocls) - a stunning "one-theme/adagio" program, a-la-Torvill/Dean 'Bolero.' (As opposed to the more traditional, pre-Torvill/Dean, 'ballroom-dancey' type programs with various recognizable dance rhythms, as Lobacheva/Averbuch performed...see below) Black costumes; hers appears to have a red sequined heart on the bodice. Many, many tricky lifts and hydroblading moves, all performed beautifully, without noticeable glitches. Perhaps not the degree of intricate footwork of the Russians but such is the nature of this sort of one-theme adagio program. Audience loved it...demanded the gold right away, even though B/K were the first among the top six couples to skate.

2 Irina LOBACHEVA / Ilia AVERBUKH RUS "Rock n'Roll medley" The most atrocious costumes in memory. As the unofficial 'Russian Cheerleader of MCI Arena Section 214," my heart sank to my stomach when I first detected the flourescent lime-green jacket of Ilya and matching bra/skirt combo on irina...remember the round "Mr. Yuk" stickers, of a face with downturned mouth and tongue sticking out, to warn people of a poisonous material? Well, these outfits were the exact color of "Mr Yuk." On the TV monitor, these costumes look more normal-yellow..but it's "Mr. Yuk" when seen live!!! As for the skating - they probably topped B/K technically, due to the high speed and degree of lightning-fast footwork, skated in perfect unison. However, the lacjked the "Torvill/Dean"-type moments of long sustained lifts and deep-edged glides. Two different styles. The Canadians won.

3 Albena DENKOVA / Maxim STAVIYSKI BUL - Arabic-theme program, to pretty new costumes...thank goodness that Albena ditched the funky Cleopatra wig from the Grand Prix season! Well skated. Nice knees with low bends & deep edges. They are almost same heighth (shortish), so not as effective as others in lifts. Nice skate, if not as spectacular as their baroque-ballroom OD, in an earlier phase. I was happy with their 3rd-place placement.

4 Tatiana NAVKA / Roman KOSTOMAROV RUS - The Feeling Begins...another Arabic-sounding music. (Kwan's short program is to this, too. Sorry but I don't know why people love this music so much. Somebody explain it, please.) My favorite couple (classic, balletic long lines; Tatyana Navka is surely the most glamorous woman on the ice!), yet I was not impressed with any of their performances at this competition. Maybe it's just that I prefer truly dancey (old-fashioned) programs and this was, to me, yet-another-boring-Arabian-Nights wiggle-the-midrif session. Maybe the music was such a huge turn-off that I could not enjoy the dance...yet it did not impair my enjoyment of Michele kwan skating to it.

5 Elena GRUSHINA / Ruslan GONCHAROV UKR - a gypsy theme, I think. I've seen better from them. Nice synchronized twizzle-turns.

6 Galit CHAIT / Sergei SAKHNOVSKI ISR - I've never been their greatest admirer but, tonight THEY WUZ ROBBED. Incredible speed. Very sharp & precise. No major slips. Outstanding lifts. And they really SOLD the program...one could almost see their hearts popping out of their chests, they were trying SO HARD to 'sell' to the audinence, which remained unusually cool...perhaps sensing that the USA teams were right behind them (in 7th and 8th places)? There was cool, polite applause. I could not understand it. What the crap?

7 Tanith BELBIN / Benjamin AGOSTO USA - 'Elvis on Ice" Ben Agosto merely stepped onto the ice and struck his Elvis pose - enough to elicit a volley of "Woooo-hoos" from the crowd. That's really all that I remember about this well-skated program. B/A are masters are milking the audience. And we all lap it up.

8 Naomi LANG / Peter TCHERNYSHEV USA - a song by the Scorpions. Romantic, classy. To me, their talent is obviously superior to that of the other USA team -- especially Peter Tchrnichev -- but this program did not have Elvis. 'Nuff said.


10 Marie-France DUBREUIL / Patrice LAUZON CAN

11 Federica FAIELLA / Massimo SCALI ITA - HOT Latin ballroom dance. Crowd went crazy!!! This was, to me, THE most enjoyable program of the night. These two (esp. the guy) are THE great talents of the future. Watch out for them to be on the podium in Turin 2006 Olympics. I would have placed them above the French and 2nd Canadian teams.

12 Megan WING / Aaron LOWE CAN

13 Kristin FRASER / Igor LUKANIN AZE

14 Natalia GUDINA / Alexei BELETSKI ISR



17 Weina ZHANG / Xiaoming CAO CHN

18 Nora HOFFMANN / Attila ELEK HUN

19 Pamela O'CONNER / Jonathon O'DOUGHERTY GBR - train in Lyon, France, with the coach of last year's Olympic champs. Best of the lower-ranked teams, by a mile. Gorgeous extensions, footwork, adagio lifts. Ridiculously low marks. Ah well, they are very, very young.

20 to 24th place - see ISU website...


Rkoretzky - I hate to break your heart...Sasha Cohen blew it yet again, falling hard on her required solo triple (the flip, I think), after landing a perfect 3 lutz-2 toe for the combo jump. It took the wind out of her sails and the rest of the usually-magnificent 'Malaguena' program was flat, although the crowd stood up and cheered, to encourage her. Her superior artistic marks allowed her to remain in 4th place (tie with Vika Volchkova), leading up to tonight's finals, so she may yet earn a medal.

Michelle Kwan all but locked up the gold medal with yet another stunning short program, to 'The Feeling Begins' (Arabic-flavored music by Peter Gabriel), igniting the crowd to frenzied cheers/whoops/hollers 30 seconds before the end of her program. It was so loud that the music could not be heard even as Michele was halfway down the ice during the fast-footwork segment!!! WHEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!

Michelle's 3 lutz-2 toe combo was enough to earn her first place going into the finals. Not far behing, though, is Russia's new champion, blonde dazzler Elena Sokolova, who was one of only two women (among the 30 who competed in this phase) to land a 3-3 combo. The other lady to do so was Italy's tiny, reed-slim Carolina Kostner, now in 6th place. Despite a horrendous qualifier, Kostner skated well enough on Friday to pull-up to a spot in the elite group of the 'final six' to skate tonight's finals. What a thrill and surprise for Italy!!! Viva Italia!!!).

So ladies SPs ended:

1. Michelle Kwan (USA) - see above; 'The Feeling Begins'. Her trademark spiral was fast, with deep edges, and traveled from one corner of the ice to the opposite!!! Wheeeeeeeee!!! We stood up after it, even though she still had a couple of elements to perform. We all held up the round signs with "6.0" that a sponsor had handed out before the event & chanted "Six! Six! Six!"

2. Elena Sokolova (Russia) gorgeous program to Saint-Saens Samson & Dalilah Bacchanale...I prefer this to her free skate, Notre-Dame de Paris. Elena looked cool, calm, relaxed...and she had to skate immediately after Kwan!!! WOW! Gorgeous beauty, this blonde skater from Moscow! She has it all - face, va-voom figure, femininity...yet super-powerful a-la-Slutskaya. Could be tonight's spoiler. Audience cheered politely...but tentatively. They know what Sokolova is capable of doing...THREE different 3-3 combos, as she has been landing in practices for the free skate. Only Carolina Kostner can match that technique.

3. Fumie Suguri (Japan) - delicate, artistic program, with clean elements, to Chopin piano music. She was in tears of joy at the end. Standing-o from audience.

tie 4. Sasha Cohen (USA) - tentative 'Malaguena,' especially after hard fall from her solo triple

tie 4. Viktoria Volchkova (Russia) - this beautiful, unpredictable lady -- Dick Button calls her 'Anna Karenina of the ice'...I guess that it's supposed to be a compliment --skated cleanly today. SUPER HIGH 3-lutz into 2-toe.

6. Carolina Kostner (Italy) - wheeee! surprise! Crowd went bonkers for her, giving her standing-o and yelling for sixes, after a real sparkler of a program to Pachelbel Canon. First 3-3 combo of the day, with everything else skated perfectly, brilliantly. Think a taller, blonder Tara Lipinsky. We thought that her meltdown in the qualifier had buried her in 18th place for the rest of the competition but, no, she hd the 3rd or 4th best short program and now finds herself among the top 6, who will be shown on live TV tonight!!!! Set your VCRs or watch it with is!!!

7. Elena Liashenko (Ukraine) - a very beautiful, always-dependable skater; skated all of her elements cleanly...brilliant footwork, fast spins, if not the greatest positions. It is so easy to sit back and watch her.

8. Jennifer Robinson (Canada) - another perfect skate! Was 2n in her qual group; dropped to 8th only because those above her were even better than she was yesterday. [it was one of those days when practically EVERYBODY -- except for Cohen and Onda -- skated their absolute best.]

9. Sarah Hughes (USA) - skated her elements perfectly...in her own sloppy current way, of course. So, on a day when everyone else did great, Huges' 'best' earned her 9th place going into the finals...so she will not be on live TV in the USA, a huge isappointment to her many fans (and network sponsors ;) ).

10.Shizuka Arakawa (Japan) - 'Swan Lake - Modern Version' to electronic re-mix of Tchaikovsky...wearing a cross between a white-feathered swan tutu and an S&M dominatrix get-up, with leather buckled straps down the sides of the torso and arms. Need I say more.

11. Yoshie Onda (Japan) - this powerful skater continues to disappoint here. At least one fall during the SP. She is lucky to remain among the top 12.

12. Julia Sebestyen (Hungary) - After an awful qualifier, with many falls, Sebestyen dazzled today with her trademark-high jumps and fast spins, to Brahms Hungarian Dance...then she took a spill doing simple back-crossoevers!

13. Dan Fang (China) - delicate, perfectly skated SP to 'Secret Garden.' Along with Carolina Kostner & Jenna McKorkell of UK (see below), this tiny, exquisite skater has captured the hearts of the audience!!! Clean elements, performed with sparkle...her low marks were loudly booed.

14. Lumilla Nelidina (Russia) - Did not even try her 3-axel...so there is only one more chance to see a 3-axel in this year's competition, should Nelidina try it tonight. Great jumper - little else. Stunningly beautiful face; very pale & blonde; super-duper slim. Skating fans around the world, on internet chat rooms, call her 'Retro-Hair Woman' due to her 1960s poodle shag haircut!! BUT....Nelidina's skating is so darn boring and lacking in style, one wonders if she really is Russian...I mean, can't the land of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky invest in a few ballet or gymnastic lessons for this poor gal, so that she can learn to stretch her legs, point her feet, and listen to the beat fo the music?

15. Galina Maniachenko (Ukraine) boring. nothing else to report.

16. Joannie Rochette (Can) Huge, huge potential. The 'total package' - jumps, spins, musicality, physical beauty...just bad luck at Wrolds this year, with freak falls (like Onda).

17 to 24. see ISU website...but I'll mention my winner for 'Nicest Surprise Skater' honors: in 20th place, Jenna McKorkell of Great Britain , for the sheer energy of her stroking, great basic skating, and high jumps. Clean elements. Crowd loved her. SEVERELY UNDERMARKED!!!!

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Thank you again Jeannie! Once again Canada's national newspaper fails to deliver. NO news this morning of the Ice Dancing, not even to say that it took place after press time...I could live with that. My husband says I'm the only one who cares.

I am so happy for B & K...long awaited and deserved. The Russians did well too and I'm sure they were disappointed. The programs were so different I don't know how one would judge them against each other...looking forward to your comments here.

I'm curious to hear your report of the 3rd and 4th place couples. Tracy Wilson had some interesting comments...I think she was even torn. She said that the Russians (4th place) have enormous potential, are a very well-matched couple with good technique and excellent line (dance training shows, she said)...and she noted that they had a much more dramatic presentation than the 3rd place couple...one could tell that the crowd responded quite favourably to the Russians. Sounds like she's anticipating greatness.

The 3rd place couple, according to Ms Wilson, had a more challenging program and executed it well. She felt that they are not as well matched physically...not a lot of height differential for example, and that this might be a factor from time to time (I don't know that I completely understand this, I guess it's an aesthetic similar to ballet where the man is typically expected to be taller).

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Hi Mom2,

The "not physically well matched" problem in ice dance is a problem you see all the time at lower competitive levels when the skaters are still growing. If the girl is taller or very close in height it looks a little funny especially if the male has "deeper" knees than his partner. It can then make him look shorter. Many (lower level) dance teams are split up for this very reason. I guess that Tracy Wilson was assuming that a team at this level would be better matched.....it was probably decided that the personality match would overide any lack in the physical match.

I hope this makes some sense.


p.s. I think I must have missed the mens long.....did they show it on TSN. TSN should be ashamed of their coverage.......and I should learn to just go to bed:D

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I have to agree with you about the costumes. They were awful! I'm glad you said it first, however.:D

Looks like you and Tracy Wilson are pretty in synch with the comments of the 3rd and 4th place team. There was another dance team she talked about (can't remember which one now...) she felt that their basic skating technique was weak...mentioned that you could see the snow flying as they skated and this indicated that their edges weren't as clean as they should be (again, I'm NOT a skater so may have terminology wrong)....the judges did not seem to agree and marked them quite high...wish I could remember specifically which couple this was...tutu14, did you see this part of the Ice Dancing?

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Yes I saw it but I can't remember which team it was. It might have been, Tatiana NAVKA / Roman KOSTOMAROV RUS. or the UKR team. Unfortunately I didn't tape it so I can't check.


p.s. Mom2....they're on the same flight...see you at the airport!

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I MISS T & D so much....the last piece I saw (on TV) was the dance to one of the Bach suites played by YoYoMa. Sigh. Taped it, and all I am left with is my T & D videos. Depth of ice dancing artistry and intelligence that we may never see again...

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Oh, dufay, I was thinking the same thing as I watched the Ice Dance final. I was also thinking of Usuva/ZHulin's skate to Vivaldi's 4 seasons. Ice dancing has come down so far since the T & D days. What are the people who structure that sport thinking?????


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