Pang Tong Win Pairs Gold at Figure Skating Worlds
2006-03-23 16:12:00 zheng

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships continued Wednesday in Calgary, Canada, with the Ladies Qualifiying Round and the Pairs Free Skating.

Ladies, Qualifying Round

Today¡¯s competition kicked off with the Ladies Qualifying Round. The 44 entries in the Ladies event were divided into two Qualifying groups, A and B. Group B was drawn to skate first. The segment score of the Qualifying Round is multiplied by a factor of 0.25. The results will be added. The top 15 skaters from each group proceed to the Short Program.

Joannie Rochette of Canada won the morning group with Yukari Nakano (JPN) and Emily Hughes (USA) finishing second and third.

Rochette completed six triple jumps in her routine to ¡°Les Feuilles Mortes¡± and ¡°Hymne ¨¤ l¡¯Amour¡±, and she only stumbled out of her triple loop. The Canadian Champion earned 117.12 points, (62.00/55.12), setting a new personal best for herself. ¡°It felt good to finally skate (on the competition rink), so this was kind of a practice before the event starts, to feel the ice. Even if there were a few mistakes, I¡¯m very happy to have my personal best.  I don¡¯t feel extra pressure, I don¡¯t look at the other Canadians, I¡¯m just thinking of my job here¡±, Rochette said. ¡°I¡¯m not a fool, I know that five minus two equals three. I know it¡¯s possible, but I¡¯m not focusing on that at all¡±, she answered refering  the fact that two of the three Olympic medallists are not competing in Calgary and she was ranked fifth at the Olympic Games.

Yukari Nakano had drawn to skate in the first group and subsequently competed early, but she put out a solid performance to ¡°Don Quixote¡± by Leon Minkus that included five clean triple jumps and nice spins. The Grand Prix Final bronze medallist scored a new personal best of 111.14 points (60.10/51.04). ¡°It¡¯s very early in the morning, it¡¯s hard to warm up and to keep going, but after I did the first jump I relaxed and my body woke up¡±, Nakano told the press. She didn¡¯t go for a triple Axel this time. ¡°Because it was the Qualifying Round, it¡¯s not worth it as my coach suggested. Plus, it has been downgraded in the past, so it¡¯s not worth doing it. But I will try it for the Free Skating¡±, the Japanese explained.

Skating to ¡°The Seasons¡± by Alexander Glazunov, Hughes landed four triples, but she fell on a loop and a popped Salchow. The 17-year-old received 102.72 points (53.16/50.56). ¡°This is my first Worlds, I feel like I skated a pretty good program. I really wanted to do the (triple) loop because that¡¯s the jump I missed the past few times, but it¡¯s just going to want to make me do it more the next time¡±, she commented.

Reigning World bronze medallist Carolina Kostner (ITA) finished in fourth place just behind Hughes at 102.56 points. The Italian had singled her triple Lutz. Finland¡¯s Kiira Korpi landed a triple toe-triple toe combination for the first time in competition to come in fifth (101.74 points).

Group A skated in the evening after the Pairs¡¯ Free Skating. Fumie Suguri (JPN) emerged on top followed by Kimmie Meissner (USA) and Sasha Cohen (USA).

Suguri turned in a good performance of her routine to Sergei Rachmaninov¡¯s Second Piano Concerto. The 2005 Four Continents Champion hit five triple jumps including two Lutzes and showed good spins. Her only mistake was a popped Salchow. Suguri picked up 113.88 points (57.80/56.08). ¡°I didn¡¯t have so much time to prepare for this event after the Olympic Games. I didn¡¯t feel so well prepared. Compared to the Olympics it¡¯s somehow more relaxing here. I don¡¯t want to think about that (medalling) I just want to focus on doing my best¡±, the two-time World bronze medallist said.

Meissner nailed a triple flip-triple toeloop combination but she underrotated the second jump in her triple Lutz-triple toeloop combination and it was downgraded to a double by the Technical Panel. The American completed three more triples to score a new personal best of 113.84 points (60.80/53.04). ¡°I went home (after the Olympic Games) and I had so much going on with my old town, so it kind of kept me on a big high, and I was just really excited to come to Worlds. I was feeling a lot of excitement (when I stepped onto the ice). I was ready to start and felt really good; I¡¯ve actually been having pretty good practices. I just wanted to improve on what I did at the Olympics, even if it¡¯s just at Qualifying. This definitely makes me feel very confident going into it (the Short Program) just knowing that I can keep my focus, especially knowing that I had to go last in my group¡±, Meissner told the press.

Cohen started well into her Romeo and Juliet program with a triple Lutz-double toeloop combination, a triple flip and loop before she fell on the second flip and stepped out of her triple toeloop. The 21-year-old produced beautiful spins but she went down on the triple Salchow at the end of the program. The Olympic silver medallist earned 110.36 points (53.00/59.36).

¡°It was a little odd out there, not what I wanted, but it´s the beginning of the week and I´ve got two more performances to go so just forget about it and start again on Friday. I felt fine, it´s the first time I´ve skated on this ice though, no excuses though. I didn´t attack some of the landings enough, need to put a little more fire into it¡±, Cohen commented. ¡°I kind of let that first mistake (fall on the triple flip) creep into my confidence. I was really happy with how I started off the program.¡±

Canada¡¯s Mira Leung finished fourth at 99.06 points.

Pairs, Free Skating

The Pairs event concluded with the Free Skating. China¡¯s Qing Pang/Jian Tong captured the title, their teammates Dan Zhang/Hao Zhang took the silver and Maria Petrova/Alexei Tikhonov of Russia earned the bronze medal.

Petrova/Tikhonov skated first in the final flight. The 2005 World silver medallists opened their inspiring performance to ¡°The Four Seasons¡± with a triple toeloop-double flip sequence followed by a double Axel, a double twist and a beautiful throw triple loop and Salchow. The two-time European Champions completed difficult lifts and maintained good speed throughout the program. After they bowed to the audience, Tikhonov knelt down in front of his partner and kissed her hand. Petrova/Tikhonov were awarded 123.18 points (64.50 element score/58.68 program component score), slightly surpassing their previous personal best and accumulating a total score of 186.22 points.

Next up were Valerie Marcoux/Craig Buntin of Canada, who delivered a nice routine to ¡°Our Song¡± by Paul Kunigis, completing a throw triple loop and Salchow as well as strong lifts, but he touched down with his hand on the side by side triple toeloop and she stumbled out of the double Axel. The Canadian Champions earned a total of 181.09 points to finish fifth.
Then it was the turn of Zhang/Zhang, who led after the Short Program. The Olympic silver medallists started strongly with a huge throw triple Salchow, a double Axel-triple toeloop combination and a triple twist into their program to ¡°The Offspring of Dragons¡±. But they seemed to run of steam in the second half of their routine. After the throw triple loop, she doubled the side by side Salchow while he fell on a triple, and they lost speed in their footwork. Zhang/Zhang were awarded 120.84 points (64.39/57.45). They were ranked fourth in the Free Skating and slipped from first to second overall at 186.42 points, just edging Petrova/Tikhonov with 0.20 points for the silver.

Pang/Tong had drawn to skate last. Performing to ¡°The Phantom of the Opera¡±, the 2004 World bronze medallists hit the opening double Axel-double toeloop, but Pang fell hard on the toeloop (downgraded to a double). The Chinese recovered to land a triple twist and high throw triple Salchow as well as good lifts. The team awaited their marks anxiously in the ¡°Kiss and Cry¡± area. They got 124.22 points (65.71/60.51), thus winning the Free Skating and pulling up from second to first with a total of 189.20 points. When the result was shown on the monitor, they jumped up in joy and waved to the crowd.

Both Zhang/Zhang and Pang/Tong won their second medal at the World Championships while Petrova/Tikhonov now have a gold (2000), a silver (2005) and two bronze medals (2003 and 2006).

¡°It was a good performance in spite of the mistake. We will continue to work hard¡±,  Pang told the post-event press conference. ¡°At the Grand Prix Final, we had a serious quarrel and thought about quitting. But then we communicated with each other and the (Chinese skating) Federation helped us and we worked very hard one month before the Olympic Games¡±, she revealed. ¡°Today everyone skated well. We had a mistake, but all our other elements were very good¡±, Tong added. ¡°My mind is still in the Kiss and Cry while we were waiting for our marks. I feel happiness. We stand on the top of the podium for the first time in this event. We belong to the medal contenders in each competition, but we weren¡¯t always able to show our best. We can do much better in the future.  Canada is a lucky place for us, each time we competed here we had good results¡±, he went on.

¡°We¡¯re very happy that two Chinese couples won the gold and silver medals. We didn¡¯t skate so well today, not as good as at the Olympic Games. We want to give our best in the future competitions¡±, Hao Zhang said. ¡°We didn¡¯t feel any pressure after the short program. The short program is shorter, we could be more relaxed. You need more energy for the free skating. We didn¡¯t have enough energy and made mistakes in the second half of our program.¡±

Tikhonov commented: ¡°Maria and I always wanted to skate like Elena Berezhnaya/Anton Sikhuralidze or like Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao in 2003 when they had this wonderful performance at the World Championships. Today we finally did it and it was incredible. This medal is like gold to me.¡± When asked about their possible retirement he answered: ¡°Maria has an injury (ankle) as you know. Sometimes you have to stop and to start something new. In 1998 we had our first competition in Canada, in Kamploops (Skate Canada) and now we had our last competition here. When we came to the ice rink, we thought about the eight years of competing at the World Championships. We just wanted to skate with our souls, for the audience, for ourselves.¡±

Rena Inoue/John Baldwin (USA) put out a strong performance to move up from sixth to fourth with 183.17 points. The US Champions landed their throw triple Axel, but Inoue put her hand down. 

The ISU World Figure Skating Championships 2006 continue tomorrow (Thursday) with the Original Dance and the Men¡¯s Free Skating.


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