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Rucker on Track After Junior Ladies Short Programby Amy Partain
|Sandra Jean Rucker,|
photo by Paul Harvath
(1/10/05) - The 2003 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships didn't end quite the way Sandra Rucker had hoped. She finished ninth at the event after medaling at both her regional and sectional competitions. In 2004, she didn't even make it out of the Southwest Pacific Regional.
But this year things have started off better. Rucker (All Year FSC) is in first place in the junior ladies event after the short program on Monday. She completed a triple Lutz-double toe combination, triple loop and double Axel.
I'm pleased with my performance, Rucker said. The crowd was wonderful. I know I have some things to work on but it felt great.
Rucker said she plans to work harder on her presentation, being more comfortable in front of an audience and containing her nerves.
While Rucker said she was a bit nervous before the short program, she felt she handled herself well and that helped create the difference over last year.
I had my head more into skating this year, she said. I've been training really hard and I was mentally prepared.
Megan Oster, the 2004 U.S. novice bronze medalist, is in second place after the short program after falling twice. She completed her double Axel and a triple Lutz-double toe combination then fell on her loop and at the end of her footwork.
I think it went well, Oster said. It was better than Mids (Midwestern Sectional Figure Skating Championships). I'm glad I committed on everything, but the fall on my footwork was surprising.
A couple of problems on jumps left 2004 U.S. novice champion Christine Zukowski in third after the junior ladies short program. She stepped out of the landing on her double Axel then put her hands down on the landing of the final jump of her triple Lutz-double toe.
Despite the mistakes, Zukowski's program was graceful and had good speed. She said because of the mistakes she knows what she needs to work on.
I was a little nervous, Zukowski said. But once the music started I just tried to let my body do what it usually does in practice.