"Dice" Rolls and Comes Up With a Win in Atlantic City

by Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Daisuke Takahashi
Photo by Michelle Harvath

2006 Smart Ones Skate America Results, Photos and Video

(10/21/05) - The first medals were handed out Friday night at 2005 Smart Ones Skate America in Atlantic City, N.J., Japan's Daisuke Takahashi smashed his previous personal best free skate and overall scores by 25.61 and 23.92 points, respectively, en route to winning his first major title since the 2002 World Junior Championships. Evan Lysacek took advantage of the cumulative effect of the new ISU judging system to place third in both parts of competition and finish second overall. Brian Joubert of France was second in the free skate but third overall. Kevin van der Perren fell to fourth in the free and overall.

“Skating was good,” Takahashi said in careful English. “I landed almost everything. I was very happy.”

Skating to Rachmaninov's Piano Concerto No. 2, Takahashi bailed on the landing of his opening quad toe, landing on two wide-spread feet. That was the only error in a program that included a giant triple Axel-triple toe, triple Lutz-triple toe and four other triples. He thought fast on his feet to change his planned second triple Axel into a double, as he had already landed the maximum number of triples. Takahashi's skating is fast and light, with spins in the air so tight they blur.

“I wanted to have a good performance,” Takahashi said. “I don't care [about] results.”

Evan Lysacek's “Grease” program was a huge step up from the effort in St. Paul two weeks ago at the Campbell's Classic.

“I had a good time tonight,” Lysacek said. “This is a fun program for me, so right as I was going on my coach told me to stay with the program and make sure that you perform it. The jumps are the jumps. They kind of take care of themselves. The audience was really enthusiastic tonight. That had a ton to do with it and I'm appreciative to them for getting behind me. Overall, it was great. I can't wait to wash my hair.”

Lysacek's program started strong with a big triple Lutz-triple toe, triple Axel-double toe, triple loop and a second triple Axel. He then doubled the flip in a three-jump combo and popped the second Lutz into a single.

As he did yesterday, Lysacek wrote an inspirational message on his hand.

“I wrote ‘attack' today because I think, just like I said yesterday, I've been getting a bit nervous to compete this year just because I feel more pressure,” Lysacek said. “This is my third Grand Prix competition in my lifetime, and some of the guys in the group have been doing it five and six years. I just have to have fun and attack and don't hold back at all. I have to skate to win, not skate to not make mistakes.

“Last year there was so much going on with my injury and [since it was my first year as a senior] there was no pressure,” he continued. “I was relaxed and went out and had fun. I was trying to learn. This year obviously there are some expectations on me to perform every time out.”

Lysacek is also looking forward to increasing the technical difficulty of his program.

“Definitely the quad is going to go in,” he said. “I did some good ones this weekend in practice, but like I said this is the beginning of the season for me, and I have steps in the ladder to reach, so that's probably going to be the next one. Those two mistakes I made tonight were mental errors. I just lost my concentration for a second, but overall I think I stayed with the program and stayed in the character.”

Joubert had an up and down performance to his “Lord of the Dance” program, choreographed by Nikoli Morozov. He fell on the opening quad toe, losing the rest of the combo. His planned triple Axel-double Salchow sequence became just a double Axel, and he touched his hand on the ice on the landing of his triple loop. He gained the 1.1 bonus multiplier on his triple loop, Salchow, and flip because they were completed later in the program. His straight line sequence, while a crowd favorite, was only a level one element.

“For me, I'm a little bit disappointed because I didn't do a clean program,” Joubert said. “I fight. I did a big mistake in the quad jump. After, I did all my jumps. I'm happy for that. I know what to do for the next competition.”

Timothy Goebel had a disastrous performance to his “Night on Bald Mountain” routine. After an opening triple flip, Goebel fell on his quad Salchow, popped his planned 3-3-2 into a single Axel, popped the triple loop-triple loop into just a single loop and followed that up with a single Lutz.

“I can honestly say that has never happened before,” Goebel said. “I've had bad performances but never popped that many things in a program. I had a really good warm-up today and a good practice session. The first jumping pass I felt really comfortable. I felt really into it. The Salchow went off better than yesterday, although I didn't land it. I thought, all right, this is going to be all right. I felt like I was well prepared. I don't know what happened, but I guarantee it won't happen again.”

The third American, Dennis Phan, actually placed higher than Goebel in the free skate but remained in seventh overall. It was a great debut for the 20-year-old, who finished second at the Southwest Pacific Regional two weeks ago.