Personal Bests Fall in Four Continents Men's Short Program

by Troy Schwindt
Matt Savoie during the short program at the 2006 Four Continents Championships.
Photo by Paul Harvath

Four Continents Results, News, Photos and Video

(1/25/06) - Matt Savoie turned in a sound short program to finish second after the first day of competition at the 2006 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Reigning World Junior champion Nobunari Oda, competing in his first ISU senior championship, grabbed the top spot with a personal-best mark of 77.29, with Savoie next at 75.64 (beating his personal best by about 10 points). Canadian Christopher Mabee placed third with a score of 68.13.

U.S. skaters Scott Smith, fifth at the U.S. Championships, finished sixth with a score of 61.84, and Michael Weiss, who just missed qualifying for his third Olympic Winter Games, finished ninth with a mark of 58.89.

“I feel up to this point this is the best I've skated all year for that program,” said Savoie, who performed to ‘Adagio for Strings.' “Everything felt comfortable. There is always room to grow artistically, and I think that's where I need to focus in the future, but I'm really happy with the way I skated.”

Savoie, 25, said he hopes to build on this competition and peak at the Olympics next month in Italy.

“As long as I can build on this performance and skate well in the long, I can only see that enhancing my confidence as I go into the Olympics,” said Savoie, who makes his home in Peoria, Ill. “Plus it gives me more exposure. I don't think I've had as much international exposure as many others on the men's team in recent years.”

Oda, who barely missed representing Japan at the Olympics, nailed his “Marriage of Figaro” program.

“I had good concentration and felt confident,” Oda said. “I really enjoyed my performance.”

Despite not going to the Olympics, he is scheduled to skate at the World Championships in Calgary in March. Smith, who struggled with his short program at the U.S. Championships, gave a mixed review of his performance at the World Arena.

“I was really happy with my combination jump, but the rest of the program felt not like myself,” said Smith, who landed a quad-triple but struggled with a spin combination. “I can't remember the last time I fell on a spin. With the new judging system we are all trying to change edges, and I went to change edge and my foot felt like it got stuck or something. It was one of those fluke things.”

Smith said he's looking forward to the future and thinks his best skating is yet to come.

“I think after the season a lot of people will be retiring, and I think my skating is continuing to improve from year to year,” he said. “I've been more consistent, and I've been working on my second mark a lot. I think I can just keep moving forward and higher up in the rankings.”

Smith said he's comfortable skating at the World Arena, a place he's familiar with.

“I've skated in this very arena several times and 10 years ago I competed in the junior worlds selections competition here,” Smith said. “So, I'm a seasoned skater here in Colorado.”

Weiss struggled with a couple of elements in his program, turning a planned quad toe-triple toe to a triple toe-triple toe and falling out of his triple Axel. “Coming off nationals, it's hard to get yourself right back up again,” Weiss said. “It was just a bad skate.”

Weiss was shooting to make his third Olympic Team and came up just short in St. Louis. When asked why he decided to compete at the Four Continents Championships, he said that he was physically ready to compete.

“It's just tough to get yourself back in the mindset again,” Weiss said. “I can certainly do all of the elements. I did them the other day in practice. I can win this competition if I skate well, but not skating like that.”

Weiss, 29, said after Four Continents he plans to pursue some commentating options, as well as do show skating and exhibitions.

“In the last week I've been working to try and get some stuff and be kind of like a technical specialist because I'm the only person who has skated under this new system,” Weiss said. “Guys like Scott Hamilton and Kurt Browning are extremely knowledgeable about the sport but haven't skated under the new system, and it's very different from the old one so maybe I can provide a little bit of insight on that side of it.”

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