This was such a good competition. There were a lot of great performances. The Hartsells were AWESOME - a clean performance but for a little bobble on crossovers on her part. They were so thrilled, and had every right to be. They should be very proud of themselves. I congratulated them afterwards. The Chinese pair of Pang/Tong actually skated cleanly but still got low marks. Give 'em another year or two, and they'll be up there.

Berankova/Dlabola for some reason stood at the boards and ate lemon slices before going out, and were still chewing on them and drinking water when their names were called. Weird. They had a decent performance and she landed both of the throw jumps. Saurette/Fecteau landed the throw 3salchow and throw 2axel, but she doubled the SBS 3toe and singled a flip. Still, a nice performance. Obertas/Palamarchuk - she's the 66 lb. 14-yr-old with white blonde hair; very cute. They did great 3toes and a throw 2axel, but she went splat on a throw 3salchow. Schwarz/Mueller had kinda dramatic music and she was supposed to be portraying a battered woman. It was a neat program, actually. He "slaps" her in the beginning and she's holding a "gun" at the end. They had nice SBS 3toes and a throw 3toe; she doubled the throw 3salchow.

Ina/Zimmerman weren't bad but they weren't great, either. She went splat on a throw 3sal and he stumbled on a 2axel. Nice SBS 3toes, though. Totmianina/Marinin skated fairly cleanly but don't have the presentation skills that the other Russians do. Petrova/Tikhonov did an excellent job and got big cheers. Abitbol/Bernadis had a rough practice this morning but put together a wonderful free skate, skating nearly cleanly. I was very happy for them. They wore different outfits than they did at French Nationals and Europeans. These were purple.

Sargeant/Wirtz did a nice job. She put her hand down on the throw 3sal and also singled a 2axel, but it was otherwise good. Zagorska/Siudek were doing so good until she totally fell out of their death spiral near the end. She was nearly in tears because she thought she'd blown it for them. But I think she's happy now. :o)

Okay, on to Bereznaia/Sikharulidze. Their only mistake was her fall on the SBS 2axel; she may have had a slight 2-foot landing on one of the throw jumps. However, I find this program to be nothing exciting. It doesn't keep my attention. But they got big cheers, and Anton was pumping his fists like crazy when they finished.

Shen/Zhao were after them, and I really thought they were gonna pull this off. They SHOULD have, big time. These guys were FLAWLESS. Huge, clean, solid everything. And they were actually smiling and having a good time out there. Full, long-lasting standing ovation; people were even stomping their feet! Everyone in the arena thought they had won, and there were HUGE boos from the crowd when the marks popped up. I really feel like they were gipped. They got another huge standing ovation when they came out for the medal ceremony (which probably made Anton and Elena feel real good since no one stood for them). First World medal ever for China - these guys have a lot to be proud of, and a great future.

Note from Kelly on 3-31-99: Two of the judges in the pairs' event have been punished for communicating with each other during the event. So most likely, Shen/Zhao really should have won.

Ladies' Qualifying Rounds
Group A

There were a lot of good performances in both groups today, and also quite a few bad ones. The biggest disaster of the day was Julia Sebestyen. She had a rough warm-up and could never pull it together. She singled or doubled almost everything and even fell on a 2loop. The poor girl was so upset she didn't even sit in the kiss n' cry. I felt SO bad. She came out and sat in the stands for the rest of the competition and had her head in her hands for a while. :(

Gusmeroli was excellent. Doubled a salchow and singled an axel, but she added them later and didn't do the 3toe at the end like she'd practiced yesterday. She was very happy with herself and I was happy for her. It says in the media guide that she's supposed to be portraying a female cat-burglar breaking into a jewelry store. Nice applause for her. Poth also skated very well, landing 5 triples. Her mouth was wide open on the 3flip 'cause she just barely hung on. Nice job. She came out and sat in the stands too for a while. Actually, quite a few of the skaters did. I kept an eye on them using my zoom camera as binoculars. :o)

It was almost painful to watch Anna Chatziathanassiou. The girl could barely do doubles and did mostly singles. She was so slow, and even stopped for a second in the middle of the program like she was going to give up and stop. Then she just kinda stroked across the rink before she got back into her program. The audience kept cheering her on, but she had to have been embarrassed. She got marks in the 2's and even a 1.8. Ouch.

Lucinda Ruh did a very nice job, landing 3 triples and a 2axel. She was smiling the entire time and the crowd just went nuts for her. I really hope I can get a copy of the tape of her program 'cause the positions she gets into in her spins are just so neat and wonderful. Marta Andrade had a great skate for her, landing 3 triples, a 2axel, and a 2axel2loop. Good for her. I can tell she's really improved from last year. I missed half of Anna Rechnio's skate 'cause I was changing the film in my camera. She didn't do her best from what I saw. Viktoria Volchkova landed 4 triples and popped about 3 others. I don't agree with her 3rd place finish.

OMG, was Sarah Hughes WONDERFUL! Landed 5 triples including 2 lutzes; only mistake was the fall on the 3loop. She was smiling the whole time and didn't look nervous at all! What a great day for her. I went over and congratulated her later and told her to pick a good draw for the short program. :)

Michelle Kwan was great as usual, only doubling her 2nd 3lutz. Definitely deserved 1st place, of course, but I still don't see what's so great about "Arianne". I love her pale purple dress, though!

Group B

Julia Lautowa landed the triple flip, loop, salchow, and toe loop. It was nice, but skating first didn't help her any. Angela Nikodinov skated kinda like she did at Nationals and only landed the lutz and loop cleanly. Shirene Human from South Africa looked much improved from last year, and although she fell on her 3toes, she landed two double axels, had a very nice layback, and smiled a lot. Julia Soldatova landed 3sal3toe, 3lutz2toe, 3flip, 3loop, and 3toe, and popped another two jumps. Dow-Jane Chi did double after double but no triples. All of her spins except one were in the exact same spot, which I thought was weird.

Alisa Drei had a great warm-up and landed 3lutz2toe, 3sal, 3flip, 2axel, and 3toe3toe(2nd was 2footed). I didn't see much of Caroline Guerke's program 'cause I was watching Anna Rechnio and Julia Soldatova find seats. :) Fumie Suguri landed four triples including lutz and flip. Tatiana Malinina skated great and landed everything but the loop; I don't know why she isn't in first. Everything looks so easy for her. Zuzana Paurova had a rough time and can do MUCH better. At least she qualified.

Klara Bramfeldt made several mistakes and didn't qualify. Sabine Wojtala did okay, but totally screwed up a flying camel spin. Jennifer Robinson skated very well; she landed 3 clean triples, two slightly 2footed triples, and fell on the second lutz. Dytrtova didn't skate her best.

I wish I didn't have to see "Otapal" from Maria Butyrskaya again, but I do. She had a huge SPLAT on that dang 3salchow again, almost doing the splits and almost smacking her face on the ice. If I were her, I wouldn't even try the triple there; it's almost like she knows she's gonna fall. We'll see how she does in the free skate.

Silvia Fontana was just wonderful! I was so happy for her! She landed the 3lutz, 3loop, 3toe, 3toe2toe, and 3sal. She was just ecstatic when she was done, and obviously the judges liked it, too, since they placed her fifth. That must be the highest she's placed in a while. Good for her! Elena Liashenko skated very well and landed 5 triples. Yulia Vorobieva landed 4 triples and ended with her long, dizzying spin. Krijgsman and Snieskiene didn't do well.

I got some GREAT shots of the ladies today 'cause I went over and sat a few rows up from the judges in the middle. That way, everyone posed facing me, which made for wonderful picture opportunities. I know people are gonna be ticked at me for this, though - I temporarily ran out of film just as Michelle Kwan took the ice. I got pics of every skater BUT her. I know, I know, stupid me. I was mad, too. But don't worry, I'll see her skating five more times before the trip is over. There will be plenty of picture opportunities.

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