First, I must say that I was very happy with our seats (I went with my friend Susan). Center ice, row Q, but it was only about 12-14 rows up. (Thanks Annabelle for the tickets!!) I thought my pictures wouldn’t come out well, but I just got them back, and they came out pretty good! My pictures should be up this weekend. Miss America sang the National Anthem. Dick Button spoke about the rich history of the competition. The president of Equal said that $2000 would be donated to the American Diabetes Association for each triple completed up to $100,000. Then, Dick started to say something about informing the judges that “the rules were being changed.” My heart skipped a beat...what? Is there going to be limits on jumps? Does that mean Michelle won’t be doing her long program? But it was just a joke (about how much money would be donated to the ADA.) All the skaters came out in alphabetical order by discipline (pairs, ladies, dance, then men.) Onto the competition...

Pairs

Mandy Woetzel and Ingo Steuer skated to Out of Africa. I really like this program. Weird side by side camel spins. He stopped way before her, and she reached out and touched his arm while she was still spinning. Their combo spin was also a little shaky. Their marks:

POL USA CAN RUS GER
5.7 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.8
5.7 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.8

Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko skated to Yanni. Lots of neat tricks. A little slow. Their marks:

POL USA CAN RUS GER
5.8 5.8 5.8 5.6 5.7
5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7

Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev were the last pairs of the night. They skated to Fly Me to the Moon. Nice program. Their marks:

POL USA CAN RUS GER
5.8 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.9
5.9 5.9 5.9 5.8 5.9

Results after Technical Program:

  1. Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev
  2. Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko
  3. Mandy Woetzel and Ingo Steuer

Ladies

In the warmup, Michelle was landing triple lutz/double toe and triple toe/double toe. No triple/triples, though. She was practicing lots of double axels. Oksana landed several jumps as well (I always turned my head too late to see which jumps!)

When the warmup was over, all the ladies got off the ice. We were thinking, what’s going on? No one is skating? Then, they showed that Oksana was backstage lacing up her skates. Finally she came out. She skated to the ballet program. Her first jump was the lutz...and she popped it. :-( She went on to land a triple sal and triple toe, which is an improvement (the old Oksana would have fallen apart after the first mistake.) Her music ended before she did her double axel. Emotional after her program. Her marks:

CAN USA GER ITA RUS AUS FIN
5.5 5.4 5.4 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.6
5.6 5.4 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.6 5.6

Michelle was next. I was so excited, and nervous, about this program. Would it live up to the hype? Yes!! It was amazing. How to describe the music? I really liked it. Haunting maybe? It was intense. Her costume was gorgeous. It’s remarkable how well the program was for the first time, and it isn’t even at it’s top potential yet (she has time to work on the intricacies of the program to make it more artistic.) She was so solid, and landed everything with ease. Her opening pose is the same as Lyra Angelica...just standing there. She runs like she did in Rach. She did both the triple lutz/double toe and triple toe/double toe combos. Her double axel was much higher, and steadier. The shaky landing she had lately was gone. Could that mean she could pull off a triple axel? ;-) She did spins in opposite directions (I think it was camel on one, and a catch foot spin on the other.) Like last year when she first did the spins, they were a little slow. I didn’t see the “public session steps” that was mentioned in an article (neither did Susan.) I guess it could be her circular footwork. During the slow part of the music, she holds her stomach, and kind of bends over. But I know what you all want to hear about...the Charlotte spiral. Well, I hate to say it, but I was disappointed in it. It was right at the beginning of the program (not even one minute into it.) She is skating backwards, and leans down so her free leg is perpendicular to the ice. Her head doesn’t touch her knee. I’m not sure if her hands touch her ankle (if they do, it’s not for long.) Her hands then touch the ice while she is doing the move. I think it makes you go “wow”, but not “WOW,” if you know what I mean. Maybe if it was faster, and went the whole length of the ice, it would be more spectacular. I do have 2 pictures of it that I will scan in (I might scan this picture in earlier than the rest since everyone is so curious about this move.) She also does her change of edge spiral. She ends with her left hand in front of her. Great program. She received a partial standing ovation. She got a 6.0 from the Canadian judge. One surprise with the marks...the Australian judge gave her a higher technical mark than artistic mark. I haven’t see that in a while. Her marks:

CAN USA GER ITA RUS AUS FIN
5.8 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.9 5.9 5.9
6.0 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.9

Yuka skated to music from Nutcracker. Nice program. Hate to say it, but I was busy writing about as much as I could remember about Michelle’s program so it would be fresh in my mind. But I did like Yuka’s program. She was a little shaky on some of her jumps. Don’t know if it will have the same effect when it’s on TV at the end of January as it does around Christmas. And the good news, Jason shaved (he looks much better now!) Her marks:

CAN USA GER ITA RUS AUS FIN
5.5 5.6 5.7 5.6 5.6 5.7 5.7
5.7 5.7 5.9 5.8 5.5 5.9 5.8

Lu Chen skated to the revamped Butterfly Lovers. I like this program, but, it can never reach the feeling from the Olympics. Her jumps are still giving her trouble. She landed her loop on both feet, then had to touch down. Her marks (I think the 5.2 was a little to harsh. Her marks were booed.):

CAN USA GER ITA RUS AUS FIN
5.2 5.5 5.5 5.5 5.4 5.6 5.6
5.7 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.8 5.9

Nicole skated to the Mask of Zorro. I really like this program (when I saw the movie, I knew someone had to skate to that music), and it really suits Nicole. It wasn’t her short program (she had to add time to it, and there were more jumps.) She doubled her salchow, but landed lutz and loop (yea!) Every time I see her, she is better. Good to see her building towards Nationals. Her marks:

CAN USA GER ITA RUS AUS FIN
5.6 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.6 5.7 5.8
5.5 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7 5.7 5.8

Katarina didn’t look on tonight. she skated to Rescue Me. Only did a double axel (fall out), and double toe. Couldn’t get into her program. Her marks:

CAN USA GER ITA RUS AUS FIN
5.3 5.3 5.3 5.3 5.2 5.4 5.5
5.5 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.5 5.5 5.8

Results after Technical Program:

  1. Michelle Kwan
  2. Nicole Bobek
  3. Yuka Sato
  4. Lu Chen
  5. Oksana Baiul
  6. Katarina Witt

Dance

Very interesting event! I was very happy with the results at the end of the night!

Maya Usova and Evgeny Platov skated first. We were sitting in a section with lots of Maya and Evgeny fans. The lyrics in the song they skated to were to the effect of when you came into my life, it got better. Maya’s costume reminded me too much of Pasha’s costume from Frozen. Maya smiled throughout...much more than I have seen her in a while. There were lots of tricks, but not much dancing. They received a partial standing ovation. Their marks:

POL USA RUS CAN AUS
5.7 5.7 5.8 5.7 5.7
5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8

Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow were next. I believe they skated to their Tango free dance from this year. I love this program. The only true “ice dancing” of the night. Their marks:

POL USA RUS CAN AUS
5.8 5.8 5.7 5.6 5.8
6.0 5.9 5.8 5.7 5.8

Pasha Grischuk and Alexander Zhulin skated to Smooth Operator. Not much applause. Guess the best way to describe it is X rated. Again, lots of tricks...not much skating. Did lots of upper body movements. Not much to the program at all. I did not like it. Don’t know what some of the judges were thinking with 5.8s/5.9s. Their marks:

POL USA RUS CAN AUS
5.7 5.6 5.7 5.7 5.6
5.7 5.8 5.8 5.9 5.7

Results after Technical Program:

  1. Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow
  2. Maya Usova and Evgeny Platov
  3. Pasha Grischuk and Alexander Zhulin

Men

During the men’s warmup, we spotted Michelle in the audience. Frank was next to her, and her agent and mother were in front of her. I then looked at the row behind Michelle, and there was Elvis and his coach! Spotting them was probably bad because I kept glancing over there a lot the rest of the night. ;-) People were constantly coming over to them, and Michelle signed and smiled. Surprisingly, most of them didn’t as for Elvis’s autograph!

Kurt skated first. I didn’t really like the program. When he messed up on one of the jumps (didn’t write down which one), glanced over at Michelle and company, and Frank put his hand over his mouth. His marks:

USA CAN POL ITA RUS FIN AUS
5.5 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.6 5.6
5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.9

Todd skated to The Impossible Dream. Doubled his first axel. Later fell on his triple lutz, and got up holding his arm. Some people thought he was hurt at first, and then he picked something up from the ice. He skated over to the referee. Turns out it was his cufflink! One of the judges gave him his cufflink. He was then allowed to start where he left off (before the lutz.) They had to get to the right part in the music, and Todd started making faces, and told them to fast forward. ;-) He then went for the triple lutz...and landed it perfectly! He later went on to land the triple axel. Standing ovation. His marks:

USA CAN POL ITA RUS FIN AUS
5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.8 5.9
5.9 5.7 5.7 5.8 5.9 5.8 5.8

Alexei skated his long program to Lawrence of Arabia. Touched down on his triple axel, but everything else was solid. Kind of bored with the program. The judges liked it though. His marks:

USA CAN POL ITA RUS FIN AUS
5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9
5.9 5.9 5.9 5.9 6.0 5.8 5.7

Rudy was the last skater of the night. He skated to his Village People medley. It’s very entertaining in person. Have never seen so many people do YMCA! When “Macho Man” comes up, and Rudy is doing balletic type moves, I glanced over at Michelle, and she was literally bent over laughing! Great audience reaction. They really booed the marks. His marks:

USA CAN POL ITA RUS FIN AUS
5.6 5.7 5.7 5.6 5.7 5.5 5.6
5.8 5.9 5.7 5.7 5.9 5.7 5.7

Results after Technical Program:

  1. Alexei Yagudin
  2. Todd Eldredge
  3. Rudy Galindo
  4. Kurt Browning

BTW, 36 triples were landed the first night, so $72,000 were donated to ADA


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