World Pairs Champions Start Season Off Right at Smart Ones Skate Americaby Amy Partain
|Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin|
Photo by Paul Harvath
(10/21/04) - On a night when the reigning World pairs gold medalists found themselves on top again, it was also a night for two U.S. pairs teams to shine at 2004 Smart Ones Skate America. Rena Inoue & John Baldwin, and teammates Jennifer Don & Jonathon Hunt, both sit just out of the medal places after the short program Thursday night at Pittsburgh's Mellon Arena.
Inoue and Baldwin are in fourth place - just .46 points behind the Chinese team of Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang in third place. Baldwin fought to hold on to the landing of their side-by-side triple Lutz jumps and just hung on, while Inoue hit hers with flair. Inoue and Baldwin are the only pair in the world doing triple Lutz jumps.
"It was nice for our first time out with this program," Baldwin said. "It was clean except for my bobble on the triple Lutz when I leaned too far forward. We want to place at this event and think we have a good chance to do it. We want to catch everyone off guard."
Don and Hunt were also pleased with their performance. A score of 51.00 put them in fifth place after the short program. They didn't have major mistakes on any elements, which included a double twist, triple toe and throw triple Salchow.
Even their coach, Artur Dmitriev, was surprised at their performance.
"I didn't expect to see them skate that way tonight," he said. "They've been skating at about 70 percent of what they can do, and tonight I thought they skated at 80 percent. It is a good base, but we need to add more difficulty."
As expected 2004 World champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia are in first place but didn't have a perfect program. Marinin said he lost focus during their side-by-side spins and bobbled a little.
"The triple Lutz has been a problem for me and once I had done that element I lost concentration," Marinin said. "I checked everything off and felt confident and then made a small mistake."
The relatively new pair of Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov of Russia finished in second place. Obertas fought for the landing on their side-by-side triple toes, and they had a slight problem holding the Axel lasso lift.
"After a year together we feel better as pair," Obertas said.
Zhang and Zhang are in third with a score of 56.98. She struggled to hold the landing of the side-by-side triple toe, and they struggled with their unison on their side-by-side spin.
"We didn't feel it was up to our normal standard," Hao Zhang said. "We made some mistakes but will be better at the free skate."
The third U.S. pair, Katie Orscher & Garrett Lucash, struggled in the short program. Lucash fell on the side-by-side triple toes and Orscher failed to land her throw triple flip.
After their skate, Lucash said he wasn't sure what happened because they felt fine going into the competition.
"There were no questions about our confidence," he said. "We're not going to do anything differently in preparing for the free skate. We felt good, so we're going to keep doing what we're doing."
The pairs competition concludes Saturday night.