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Unexpected Result in Smart Ones Skate America Men's Short Programby Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Photo by Michelle Harvath
(10/20/05) - Before the event began, it was a result few would have predicted. Thursday evening at 2005 Smart Ones Skate America at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., the men's short program took an unexpected turn. Japan's Daisuke Takahashi is first with 69.10, Belgium's Kevin van der Perren second (68.79) and American Evan Lysacek third (67.75).
Takahashi looked stunned as he greeted the group of reporters immediately following his performance.
“I'm surprised!” he said. “Today's performance is not bad, but it's not good. Results, I am surprised. Happy.”
Going into Skate America, Takahashi didn't worry about placement.
“I just think good performance,” he said. “I don't think result.”
Takahashi had fairly strong practices this week and looked relaxed. He took that momentum into the short program to the “Moulin Rouge” soundtrack. After opening with a triple flip-triple toe, Takahashi rotated the triple Axel but took a hard fall on the landing. He recovered with a level 3 spin and followed that up with a triple Lutz. The balance of his elements were levels two and three.
Van der Perren had the highest technical score, with 36.24 to Takahashi's 35.90. In his “Computergame” program, he landed a quad toe-triple toe, a triple Lutz and had a weird triple Axel on which he caught his heel on the run out of the jump. Van der Perren's program is all attack, high on energy and audience interaction. He carried that throughout and looked to be enjoying every moment.
“Maybe this is my last season, so I want to be the best I can,” van der Perren said. “First of all, I'm happy to almost skate clean, but I'm very happy to have landed my first quad ever in [international] competition. I hope tomorrow it's going to work again. That's my goal, anyway.
“The problem was, and still is, triple Axel,” van der Perren continued. “I need consistency on that jump first, no matter what program—exhibition, short, free. And after, I wanted to take the next step to do the quad, because if it misses, I still have the certainty—or some kind of certainty—to land the triple Axel. I never wanted to take the risk of missing two elements in the short.”
Evan Lysacek opened the competition with music from the Gipsy Kings. He skidded the entrance to his triple Axel and landed it very forward. The triple Lutz-triple toe and solo triple flip were good, and his straight line step sequence was a highlight that got the crowd into the program. Lysacek finished, pumped his fists and wiped the sweat off his brow.
“The program today was the first time that's I've performed that short,” Lysacek said. “I'm kind of still learning. I think that for the first time out I feel pretty comfortable with it. My plan is not to be perfect at the beginning of the season. Hopefully things will keep improving as the season goes on. My performance today was fun. I thought the audience was enthusiastic. I had a good time.”
Lysacek had something written on his hand that helped inspire him.
“I'm reading the book “What to Say When You Talk to Yourself” and it's about positive affirmation,” Lysacek said. “One of the stories in the book is that this person had never bowled before. He wrote on his hand ‘I bowl strikes' and just said it over and over and over again and he bowled a perfect game. So I wrote on my hand and just kept saying it today and I think it helped me stand up on the triple Axel. I wrote ‘I skate clean programs' and I made sure that I did that.”
Reigning Skate America champion Brian Joubert had an uneven performance to James Bond's “Die Another Day” that landed him in fourth. Joubert put his hand down on the quad toe, following it up with a double toe. He stumbled out of the triple Axel and had a freak fall on the straight line footwork.
“I was a little bit nervous,” Joubert said. “Practice was good. I was good on my jumps, but I was too small. Maybe I was not concentrating. After Worlds I came home and worked a lot. I know what I did and what I have to do.”
Timothy Goebel skated to “Sing, Sing, Sing” from the “Swing Kids” soundtrack. A hard fall on the quad Salchow, a struggle on the triple Axel, and a foot down on his final spin landed him in sixth.
“I think I was going a lot slower than normal. I just wanted to get it out there,” Goebel said. “I think I just need more mileage on it.”
Grand Prix rookie Dennis Phan underrotated and fell on his triple Axel and placed seventh in a promising debut.