Wow, what a day. I was expecting this, but I still can't believe that Michelle Kwan's name is not on top of the leader board. It seemed unreal to see someone else's name there, especially when it wasn't Tara Lipinski's, either! Well, good for Maria. I guess when she said she could beat Michelle, she was right. And she deserved the gold every step of the way. Her free skate today was just perfect. Totally clean, no mistakes. I've never seen her skate it so well - she even landed that dang 3salchow, LOL! She landed 7 triples in all and was smiling and pumping her fists at the end. :o) She knew she'd done it. Now when Michelle took the ice (she was the last to skate), I don't know if she realized or not that she had no chance to win the whole competition. In any case, Michelle did not skate very well today, either. She turned out of her opening 3lutz, doubled the second part of her 3toe3toe, and popped that darn 2axel into a single. She did land 6 triples, but they weren't solid triples, and she looked very unsure of herself out there. Definitely not the Michelle we're used to seeing. After she singled that axel, I was wondering if she'd even medal, 'cause Malinina and Soldatova had done so well. But she deserved her silver, no higher. Be assured, everyone, that Maria was the clear winner today.

Fumie Suguri had to skate first and only landed 3 triples, although she landed that 3lutz2toe which she went splat on yesterday. Sabine Wojtala did very nice and landed 5 triples. She has such thick, beautiful hair - I'm jealous!! Caroline Guelke did not have a good skate, falling or stepping out of most jumps. Valeria Trifancova only landed 2 clean triples and did a lot of doubles, but I must say she has very pretty spirals. Julia Sebestyen did much better than in the QRs, but still made several mistakes. This was just not her week. Julia Lautowa skated well with some minor mistakes. She was pretty happy.

Poor Eva-Maria Fitze was crying after her performance. She stepped out of or doubled or singled many jumps, and she had a huge fall on a 3loop, almost smacking her head on the ice. Jennifer Robinson was very elegant and started off well, but doubled some jumps towards the end. Alisa Drei landed 4 clean triples and skated pretty well; she got huge applause, since she in Finnish. I thought she skated very well this week. Silvia Fontana skated well, and John Zimmerman threw her a dozen roses when she was done. I saw them in the halls later and got the cutest picture of the two of them. I talked to John for a minute and said that Silvia had done well, and he agreed. I also congratulated him on his performance, and he laughed and said "well, I survived!" LOL

Yulia Vorobieva had many difficulties and landed only 2 clean triples. Angela Nikodinov skated well; her only major mistake was singling a 3toe towards the end. She placed 9th in the free skate, good for her!

I feel really bad for Viktoria Volchkova. I think most people assumed she'd be in the top 5-8, but she fell twice, doubled a jump, and stepped out of another, finishing 10th. I saw her afterwards sitting with someone in the halls, and her eyes were red and there were tear streaks all down her cheeks. Poor girl. Yulia Lavrenchuk landed 4 triples and skated good but not her best. Diana Poth landed her 3toe3toe, but the rest of the program was mediocre, and she's got to be very disappointed. I'm disappointed for her. I like Elena Liashenko's "Case to Imagination" program, but she had some minor errors tonight and ended up 8th. I am so excited for Lucinda Ruh - she finished 10 or 11 places higher than last year! She is starting to be more consistent on the jumps now, although she doesn't have a 3lutz. She landed 4 clean triples and a 2axel in the free skate, and showed off all of her neat spins. Standing O and a stuffed bunny from me! :o)

I am so happy for Sarah Hughes!! She was fantastic!! Absolutely clean program. Didn't try the 3loop3loop combo (just did a solo 3loop), but was perfect otherwise. She looked so happy out there again, and just like yesterday, was even smiling during her spins. She placed 6th in the free skate, I think. Geez, 7th place in her first Worlds at age 13 - what an accomplishment! This girl is good.

Tatiana Malinina was perfect and I believe she placed 3rd in the free skate - she did receive higher technical marks than either Maria or Michelle. She was so funny when she was done - she was jumping up and down, doing a little jig like Tara Lipinski did at the Olympics, and pumping her fists, and just pretty much going nuts. It was very cute. :o) I wish she could've medaled. But Julia Soldatova skated extremely well, and though she fell on a 3flip, she landed 6 other triples including a 3sal3toe combo. She deserved the bronze.

Vanessa Gusmeroli skated well but fell out of a 3flip, and when she tried it again, she doubled it and fell out of that. But she added a 3toe at the end, and it is such a neat program, that she still got huge applause and pretty good marks. Anna Rechnio landed 6 triples, but I guess the judges didn't like her program or something 'cause her marks weren't all that good. Still, a 6th place finish is very respectable.

Went to the skaters' hotel tonight to hang out and had a lot of fun. My friend Paula introduced me to the Hartsells, and to my surprise, Steve said "are you the girl with the Worlds web page?" :-0 Cool! He must go on-line at least sometimes. Steve and Danielle, if you're reading this - HI! :o) It was very interesting to see the "off-ice" side of all these skaters. Really makes you realize that they are just normal people like you and me. I'm so glad I got to talk with some of them, and I went back to the hotel on Sunday night to party with them, too. Those are two nights I'll never forget! It was fun to see all the skaters having fun.

Well, that wraps up today. Check back for tomorrow's report!

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