Flatt Sets the Standard for Novice Ladies

by Mikel Bowman
Rachael Flatt
Photo by Paul Harvath

Novice Ladies Free Skate and Final Results
Novice Ladies Free Skate Photos
All Event Results and Photos

(1/10/05) - Their looks, style and movements are undeniably distinct, but the top ladies in the novice division all had one thing in common on this night – composure under pressure.

Rachael Flatt (Broadmoor SC), Megan Hyatt (Wagon Wheel FSC) and Katrina Hacker (Rye FSC) finished first, second and third, respectively, and each overcame her own unique hurdle to medal.

Flatt looked confident from the start when she opened with a solid double Axel. But she suffered a fall on her second jump, an attempted triple flip, which threatened to sap that confidence. It was immediately clear though that Flatt, who came into the night in second after the short program, wasn't going to let anything as trivial as a fall on her second jump detract from her performance.

According to her coach, Tom Zakrajsek, it was for exactly this type of experience that they wanted to come to this event.

“She's here to get experience and make herself better,” Zakrajsek said. “This was a huge improvement for her.”

After rising off the ice, Flatt proceeded to land the remainder of her jumps, including a triple Salchow-double toe combination and a triple toe-double toe combination. She also impressed the audience and the judges with her expressive movements and superb connecting spins.

“I feel on cloud nine,” Flatt said. “It's just an amazing feeling. At the very end I was just kind of running on adrenaline and trying to do my best.”

Megan Hyatt, who was placed fifth after the short program, was the only skater in the final group to land all of her jumps, but she also experienced a bit of scare early on when she popped her Lutz, her second planned jump of the program. She recovered quickly though and went right into a flying camel, followed by a walley-running combination and a double Axel-double toe combination.

Asked after the event about her goals for the future, Hyatt was quick to point out her areas for improvement.

“I'll be moving up to junior next year,” Hyatt said, “so I'll be working on junior programs once I find my music. And with the new code of points, I'll need to have more difficult entries into my spins.”

Katrina Hacker entered the free skate in sixth position. Unlike Flatt and Hyatt, Hacker didn't experience any difficulty with her second jump of the program. Her troubles came much sooner – two seconds into the program to be exact.

Sliding out of her opening position, Hacker caught an unfortunate blade and went tumbling to the ice. That might have been enough to dishearten most skaters, but not Hacker, who had set a goal a year earlier, when she placed sixth at the 2004 U.S. Championships, to earn a medal in the novice division.

“I just took a deep breath and said ‘OK, that doesn't matter, it wasn't on anything important,' and I just kept skating,” Hacker said. “I thought it was really good that I got back up and did everything else.”

Everything else included five clean triple jumps, and the accomplishment of her yearlong goal.