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Nikodinov and Czisny Pack a Punch for U.S. at Smart Ones Skate Americaby Amy Partain
Photo by Paul Harvath
(10/22/04) - When Angela Nikodinov last skated in the ISU Grand Prix Series two seasons ago things were different - different faces around the rink and a different look to the scoring. But those changes didn't seem to matter to Nikodinov Friday during the ladies short program at 2004 Smart Ones Skate America. She is in second place going into the free skate. Her program was solid, including a triple Lutz-double toe combination and a double Axel. While she had no major errors in the program, she knows there is work to be done.
"My footwork didn't look at all like it should tonight, but nobody can be perfect in October," she said. "But you go home and work on what you don't feel comfortable with."
She said she and coach Igor Pashkevich are working to make her spins and other elements as difficult as they can under the new judging system. Adjusting to the new system has been a challenge, Nikodinov said, but one she's willing to tackle.
"It's hard after skating under one system your whole life to now, at the end of your career, having to change the way you make your programs, thinking about changes of positions and number of rotations of spins," she said. "Training is a lot of hard work but you go in and motivate yourself to do it everyday because you love it."
Alissa Czisny, a last minute addition to the ladies competition for the United States, also came out with a solid short program. In what seemed like a statistical improbability, Czisny is tied for third place with Canadian Cynthia Phaneuf after the short program.
Czisny said she was invited to the competition only five days before the ladies competition was set to start and a day after she finished competing at the Eastern Great Lake Regional Figure Skating Championships, where she finished first.
"I'm very excited to be here," she said after her short program. "It is an honor to be asked and it was something I wasn't expecting."
Photo by Michelle Harvath
"It gives me confidence, especially in front of that big of a crowd," she said. "That's something that scares me sometimes."
Japan's Miki Ando sits in first place going into the free skate. She completed her elements, which included a triple Lutz-triple loop, but feels she needs to work on her presentation. Her program component score of 23.84, 1.2 points behind Nikodinov's program component score, seemed to be evidence of that.
Ando said that compliments she has received from the fans at Skate America about what a nice smile she has have helped boost her confidence about her presentation.
"I was a little nervous because I skated first," Ando said. "But I had a good time out there and showed about 80 percent of what I've been doing in practice. I hope to enjoy the free skate and hope that success here will encourage me for NHK (Trophy, her next Grand Prix event)."
Despite popping her triple flip, Phaneuf was happy with her performance overall.
"I know I can do it better and will do it better at Skate Canada," Phaneuf said. "I'll be ready."
Coach Annie Barabe attributes Phaneuf's struggles with the jump to growth over the summer.
"She's grown a lot and is getting used to her jumps," Barabe said. "She's getting used to her new body."The ladies competition concludes Saturday night with the free skate.