Injury Leads To Unexpected End To Pairs Competition

by Amy Partain
Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang
Photo by Michelle Harvath

Pairs Free Skate Results

Pairs Free Skate Photos

All Smart Ones Skate America Event Information

(10/23/04) - A serious fall taken by Russia's Tatiana Totmianina during her free skate with Maxim Marinin Saturday at 2004 Smart Ones Skate America meant that the pairs competition didn't end like anyone expected.

During the seventh element of their program, an overhead Axel lasso lift, Marinin lost his footing and Totmianina crashed to the ice, hitting her head. On-site medical personnel responded immediately and began treating Totmianina before carrying her off the ice on a backboard. She was treated further in the arena medical room before being transported to Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, Pa.

Mercy Hospital Spokesperson Beth Lawry said Totmianina was being listed in good condition Saturday night and was being kept overnight for observation.

"She had the appropriate testing done and she's resting," Lawry said. "She was awake and oriented."

Totmianina and Marinin were the last pair to take the ice Saturday night. However the awards ceremonies for ladies, pairs and ice dancing that were scheduled to follow the pairs event were postponed until Sunday.

China's Dan Zhang and Hao Zhang captured the gold medal. Their trademark high twists and throws earned them a free skate score of 109.88 for an overall event score of 166.86.

"Tonight we performed good with one minor mistake," Dan Zhang said. "We were happy with our performance."

Dan Zhang said they won't make any major changes in their program before their next Grand Prix event but will work on improving their speed and transitions.

Julia Obertas and Sergei Slavnov of Russia finished second. Obertas also fell out of the overhead Axel lasso lift during the free skate when her hand slipped. But she grabbed onto her partner who helped her regain her balance so they could continue the program.

A highlight of their program was a quad twist, which started off their program.

"The quad twist is something that I'm afraid of sometimes because it is a dangerous element," she said. "But it is not such a difficult element for us because the double and triple twist are easy for us."

Totmianina's fall brought back memories for Obertas who had a bad fall in 2000.

"When I saw her fall I remembered that immediately," she said. "I twisted so I landed on my hip. I was very lucky. Unfortunately Tatiana was not as lucky."

U.S. pairs champions Rena Inoue & John Baldwin won the bronze medal with a total score of 158.10. Baldwin doubled their planned side-by-side triple Lutz jumps and they struggled with unison problems during their straight line step sequence. Inoue said that while this was her first time competing at Skate America, she has seen other skaters struggle with the first event of the season from watching it on TV.

"We're getting back in competition mode," Inoue said. "I've seen improvement in our skating from last year. We're happy about that because it's hard to improve at this level."

Baldwin said they have fun skating this season's free skate, which was choreographed by five-time U.S. ice dancing champion Peter Tchneryshev.

"It's more like a dance program with elements in between," Baldwin said.

Inoue added, "There's more detail in the program, more speed and more power."

The other two U.S. pairs in the competition struggled with their free skates with Katie Orscher & Garrett Lucash finishing sixth and Jennifer Don & Jonathon Hunt finishing seventh.

Lucash turned out of the landing of a double toe, which was the second jump of a combination with a triple toe, then he fell on his solo triple toe. Later in the program they struggled with a lift and the backward outside death spiral. Neither could explain what happened.

"We've been having a best practices here - our best ones ever at a competition," Orscher said. "I think when that happens we get overconfident."

Lucash said that nerves also play a part in the competition struggles they have, which he believes will improve as they compete more. Orscher agreed.

"We're still young, not that that should be an excuse for mistakes," she said. "But confidence will build the more we compete."

Don and Hunt said they knew that they weren't coming into this competition as prepared as they could have been since they switched coaches in September, when they began working with Artur Dmitriev.

"That's why we were so pleased with the short program because neither program was where it should be," Hunt said. "But we're happy to be here and plan to be more prepared for the Cup of Russia."

Don said they will go back home and work as hard as they possibly can to put everything together after getting the late start.