Four U.S. Medals in One Day at Four Continents ChampionshipsCourtesy of International Skating Union and Tatiana Flade
|Evan Lysacek at the U.S. Championships|
Photo by Paul Harvath
(2/18/05) — The 2005 Four Continents Championships continued Friday in Gangneung, Republic of Korea, with the men's free skate and the free dance. The United States collected four medals, including two golds and a sweep of the ice dancing podium.
Men's Free Skate
Friday's competition started with the men's free skate. First to skate of the top contenders was Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, who stood in third place following the short program. The 2002 World Junior champion took a hard fall on his opening quadruple toe but recovered to land a triple Axel (two-footed) seconds later. The 18-year-old also hit a double Axel, a triple Lutz, triple Salchow, triple Lutz-double toe combination as well as a triple flip and fast spins in his program to “Concerto de Aranjuez.” He just two-footed his triple loop, but he skated with lots of energy to the very end. Takahashi earned 123.83 points (60.67 element score/64.16 program component score) for this performance, which was a new personal best for him.
The Japanese skater moved into the lead at that point with a total score of 192.29 points. Next up was Ben Ferreira of Canada, second after the short program. Ferreira did a three-turn out of his triple Axel but managed to add a double toe for a combination. He also completed four more triples but missed a flip and a toe to slip to fourth place overall (188.36 points).
Then short program leader Chengjiang Li of China took the ice. He reeled off a beautiful quadruple-triple toe combination but downgraded his planned quadruple Salchow to a triple and his first Axel was just a double. The 2001 Four Continents champion was off-balance on his triple Lutz, but a good triple toe and a triple loop followed, before he stepped out of his triple Axel.
The 25-year-old also showed nice positions in his flying camel spin and had good straight line footwork in his routine to “Infernal Affairs,” but he seemed to tire at the end, managing just a triple Salchow-single toe combination for his last jump element. Li was awarded 121.99 points (58.27/63.72) and was ranked second in the free skate behind Takahashi but stayed in the lead overall with 194.09 points.
Last to skate was Evan Lysacek who finished fifth in the short program. The three-time World Junior silver medalist put out a solid performance to “Singin' in the Rain” that featured a triple Axel-double toe combination, a triple flip-triple toe combination, as well as a triple Lutz-double toe, a triple Salchow and loop, and an excellent triple Lutz at the end of his program.
The 2004 Four Continents bronze medalist also produced fast, well-centered spins, and the only glitch was a step out on his second triple Axel. You could see the excitement and joy on his face as he took his final pose. Lysacek scored 133.14 points (65.12/68.02) for his performance, which exceeded his previous personal best by almost 23 points. He racked up a total score of 196.39 to take the gold medal. It was the first gold medal at an ISU championship for the 19-year-old American.
“This is a really big win for me going into the World Championships in a couple of weeks,” Lysacek said. “I wanted to come here and to compete under this new system just to gain some experience going to the Worlds, because I haven't had numerous opportunities to do it this season. So, we're constantly learning about the new judging system, and we're seeking points, and I think the most important way to learn about it is to come and to compete under this system. I was really glad to come here and to deliver a pretty strong performance tonight. I know I can definitely improve on it and this win just gives me a lot of motivation to go home and to work even harder for the Worlds in a couple of weeks.”
Lysacek performed well despite leaving practice early due to illness.
“I actually had a touch of food poisoning, I think,” he said. “I was really dizzy this morning. I just went back to the hotel and rested out, got ready for the event and came here. Even on the warm-up, I didn't feel 100 percent. But I had such a long wait in between there. I think it was still going out of my system, whatever it was, and by the time I competed I felt like my legs were quite under me.”
Li settled for the silver, his third silver medal at Four Continents. He also had one bronze (2003) and won in 2001.
“I think my performance today wasn't too good,” Li said. “I had some problems on the main elements, and I think it was maybe due to lack of concentration. I changed my skating boots two weeks ago, and sometimes I still have pain in my foot, but this is no excuse for my mistakes today.”
The bronze medal went to Takahashi, and it was his first medal at an ISU senior championship.
“Today's performance was not so good, but I won my first medal at an ISU (senior) championship, and I'm very happy about that,” Takahashi said. “I didn't really feel the fall on the quad toe, I just thought about the next jump that I had to do.”
Matt Savoie finished fifth (185.38 points). He landed six good triple jumps including a triple Axel-triple toe combination, but he didn't receive points for his final triple toe as he already had repeated two triple jumps (the Axel and the Lutz).
Derrick Delmore finished 11th overall after four triples in his free skate. He turned a number of other planned triples into doubles, but he had a nice flying sit spin that earned a level 2.
|Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto at the U.S. Championships|
Photo by Paul Harvath
The third set of medals at the 2005 Four Continents Championships was awarded in the ice dancing event. The teams from the USA swept the podium. Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto danced to the gold, their second consecutive title at the Four Continents Championships.
Melissa Gregory & Denis Petukhov claimed the silver, and Lydia Manon & Ryan O'Meara took the bronze medal. Both teams were newcomers on the podium at an ISU championship. For Belbin & Agosto, it was the fourth medal in their fourth appearance at this event. They claimed the silver in 2002 and 2003.
Performing to “Shadritsa,” a Russian gypsy dance, Belbin & Agosto produced a technically demanding and strong program. They opened with a dance spin followed by a set of twizzles in both directions and a straight line lift with him in a “shoot the duck” position.
“It's been a good experience for us, because we had some not ideal circumstances as far as our skates coming late, and we were only able to practice right before the competition,” Agosto said. “So it was good for us to be able to go ahead and still skate very well and have strong performances all week.”
Their dance also included good footwork and a serpentine lift with changes of position for both Belbin & Agosto. The young team also showed good unison to score 110.09 points (45.38 element score/64.71 program component score). They accumulated a total score of 219.29 points.
“Many skaters chose not to come here, because it was very far to travel and very close to the World Championships," Belbin said. "But we're always taking advantage of the opportunity to perform our programs. We love these programs, and we enjoy skating them. I think performing and competing is the best way to gain experience and to perfect your programs. We're very happy to be here, and we feel like it can only be beneficial toward our progress to Worlds.”
Gregory & Petukhov attacked their modern program set to “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” and “Money” by Pink Floyd with great speed, opening with a spectacular straight line lift with Gregory in a handstand. The husband-and-wife team also completed other interesting lifts including a straightline-rotational lift and interesting spins, but Gregory two-footed the first set of twizzles, and the Americans appeared to loose speed in their midline step sequence toward the end. The U.S. silver medalists were awarded 90.85 points (36.71/54.14) and had 183.97 points overall.
“We feel in very good company with the other skaters on the podium from the U.S.,” Gregory said. “We're really proud to represent the U.S. and see three flags going up.”
Gregory & Petukhov have another memorable moment coming up next week. Petukhov is scheduled to become a U.S. citizen on Tuesday, Feb. 22, during a ceremony at U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The two will then be eligible to compete at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games.
Manon & O'Meara delivered a solid program to the soundtrack of “Black Cat, White Cat” by Goran Bregovic. Their routine included nice spins and a curve lift with O'Meara skating on one foot as well as a dance combination spin with changes of position. Manon just had trouble with one twizzle, two-footing it. The U.S. bronze medalists earned 85.40 points (35.32/50.08) which added up to a total event score of 171.65 points.
“We think it was a very nice ending to a hard week,” O'Meara said. We skated very well. Our free dance performance was good.”
Nozomi Watanabe & Akiyuki Kido of Japan skated a dynamic program to modernized classical pieces such as “Moonlight Sonata” and “Four Seasons” to finish fourth (166.84 points). Canadians Lauren Senft & Leif Gislason pulled up one spot to fifth place (160.89 points).