Okay, I've got just a little time here before the opening ceremonies...
I can't say enough about how convenient this hotel is - we found that if you use the back door, all you need to do is walk up about 10 steps, and boom, you're at the entrance. Makes it convenient for me to run back here between events to get a snack or to write these reports.
Plushenko started us all off. It wasn't a great start. He fell on his quad and doubled his salchow and loop. He just didn't look into it. I think his marks were as low as 5.3, and mostly around 5.5 (for technical merit). Kyu-Hyun Lee did a techno number and actually landed more triples than Plushenko, although he didn't do a 3axel. Stannick Jeanette did very well, landing a 3axel3toe and another 3axel, and doing some pretty funky spins. Michael Shmerkin also did a techno number and landed a 3axel but not much else.
Alexander Abt was the only skater in Group B who really got into his program and had the crowd going. He SO beat Plushenko. He did a HUGE 4toe that may have been 2-footed, 3axel-step-3toe, and another 3axel. The crowd booed at his marks. Margus Hernits was a disaster; his only triple was a salchow.
Elvis Stojko - what can I say, I love the guy, but this program is silly - the whole program is just Egyptian arm movements. Nevertheless, he skated it fairly clean and managed to move into first place. Bradley Santer skated to Plushenko's music and had pretty sloppy spins. Ivan Dinev took a slam on the 4toe but landed a 3axel2toe and 3axel.
Anthony Liu did a very nice job, landing a 4toe2toe and 3lutz3toe. Probably should have beaten Jeanette. Robert Grzegorczyk landed 4 or 5 triples; it wasn't his best effort. He missed qualifying by one spot, darnit. He's a really nice guy. Guo landed a 4toe and a 3axel3toe among other things. Tim Goebel apparently has lost his axel, or at least, it wasn't there for him today. He couldn't manage anything more than a single axel in the warm-up, and also singled it in the program. He landed his 4sal3toe, but stepped out of the opening 3flip, fell on the 4toe, and didn't attempt a second 4sal. Eighth place - ouch.
Patrick Meier wore the same checkered outfit as last year. Landed his 3axel2toe. Andrejs Vlascenko did okay, landing two 3axels but falling on a couple of other jumps. Chengjiang Li did "Riverdance" and was awesome, landing a 4toe3toe, 3axel2toe, and 3axel; his only mistake was a doubled loop.
I love Alexei Yagudin's new costume - very good-looking. And although I still like "Broken Arrow" better, this "Tosca" program sure isn't bad. And he skated really well today. Had a shaky start with a doubled quad, but he tried the quad again and landed a beauty, and was otherwise clean. He was the clear winner (IMO) out of all the men today, and this performance sets him up well for the short program and free skate.
Stefan Lindemann...got about a dozen pictures of him, LOL! He was SO good - he went for everything and was successful at everything. Wonderful height on his jumps. Clean program; his coach at the boards was a very happy camper. :) I threw him a little stuffed dog, and he waved it around in the kiss n' cry!! Markus Leminen had a respectable performance that included 2 3lutzes and just a hand down on the 3axel.
I missed some of Szabolcs Vidrai's program, but I know he landed a 3axel, 3flip, and 3lutz. He got rid of his "Dr. Seuss" costume and now has a black a silver outfit. Kevin van der Perren landed about 4 triples and also did a layback spin. Vincent Restencourt got off to a very shaky start, probably because the audience was clapping, cheering his name, whistling, etc. I wanted to smack the guy a couple rows in front of me, because he kept yelling things out to some skaters in the middle of their programs! Anyway, Vincent did land 2 3axels and managed a decent performance, even if it wasn't his best. Takeshi Honda was off-and-on, landing a 3axel3toe, but singling his quad and doubling some other jumps. Pretty high presentation marks. Michael Weiss was great! Clean, just like at Nationals - with a 3toe instead of a quad, but excellent nonetheless. Presentation marks between 5.7-5.9. A very close second to Yagudin.
I'll talk about them in the order they skated...
Huc/Rolland got thunderous applause because they are French, but she fell on their SBS 2axel and were in last place for a long time. Zagorska/Siudek skated great and were clean, but skating 2nd out of 22 pairs hurt them. Bestandigova/Bestandig I think used the same "race car" program as last year. She had neon red hair last year, and although she's let her hair grow back in its natural blond, the ends of her hair are still fluorescent, LOL. She doubled the throw 3sal and stepped out of the SBS 3toe.
Shklover/Mintals had a nice throw 3sal. Pang/Tong - she is too skinny and pale for my taste. They didn't give their best performance; she fell out of the SBS 3toe. Berankova/Dlabola skated to "Lawrence of Arabia"; she fell on the throw 3sal.
There was deafening applause and foot-stomping for Abitbol/Bernadis. I wondered if they would stand up to the pressure, and they did. Clean program, nice job. High marks for skating so early. Schwarz/Mueller, who had to skate right after the French, gave possibly their best short program performance of the season and skated as clean as they possibly could. Perfect unison on the SBS spins, of course. I am so proud of them. Sargeant/Wirtz would probably like to redo their program. She stepped out of the SBS 3toe and I think doubled the throw 3sal; then he tripped and slid across the ice on footwork. I don't even know where they ended up, but certainly not in the top 10.
Danko/Emilienenko both bobbled on their 3toes but hung on, and had a nice throw 3sal. The crowd booed at their (low) marks, and even Frank Carroll, who was sitting behind me, booed - I think it was him, anyway. (Speaking of Frank, I talked to him for a few minutes. It is true that Michelle Kwan is doing a 3flip in her short program instead of a 3toe.) Obertas/Palamarchuk have a nice program and skated well except for her step out of the SBS 3toe - I was surprised to see her do that, since she had been perfect in practice yesterday.
Shen/Zhao were as perfect as they could get. High, huge everything. Big applause; clear winners. Totmianina/Marinin skated well until their SBS spins, which were way off. I don't have anything written down about Kautz/Jaschke, but I think they landed their SBS 3toes. Khalturina/Artyuchov had great SBS 3toes and spins, but when I looked up from my notes at one point, they were both sprawled out on the ice. I don't THINK the fall was on a required element, but they were still marked pretty low. Scott/Dulebohn were clean, yay! They did great and should be very proud of themselves. I would have had them in front of Totmianina/Marinin. Rodionova/Krukov were also clean - she has beautiful white-blond curly hair.
Ina/Zimmerman gave the third clean performance in a row. It might have been the best I've seen them skate, and I think they are a little surprised to be out of the top 5 with a performance like that. Petrova/Tikhonov had the next clean skate, but I just can't get into this team, so I was a little disappointed to see them so high. I thought the other clean teams had better programs. Sale/Pelletier probably would have been in first had Jamie not had an awful entrance into the SBS spin. She just barely hung on, and they were totally out of sync. But the rest of the program was awesome, and high presentation marks kept them in 3rd.
I delivered messages today to Silverstein/Pekarek (Jamie LOVED them), Lang/Tchernyshev, Bereznaya/Sikharulidze, Angela Nikovinov, Alexei Yagudin, and Schwarz/Mueller.
I ran into Mirko Mueller and Peggy Schwarz tonight and congratulated them. I told Mirko I had something for them (the messages), and he's like "Again?" LOL (I'd given them stuff at Skate America and sent them photos before.) He confirmed that he and Peggy will do an interview with me sometime this week. I had to laugh - now they have jackets with "www.schwarz-mueller.de" printed on the backs, LOL! They also have practice outfits that say that. They are too funny. :o)
Listen to Skate Radio to hear my verbal reports from today...
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