| ||Associated Press|
NICE, France -- While his chief competitors faltered,
Russian Alexei Yagudin kept his nerve, hitting two quadruples in an
expressive free program to win his third consecutive world figure
skating title Thursday.
Elvis Stojko of Canada finished second despite falling on his
opening quadruple. And American Michael Weiss won his second bronze
with just six triple jumps -- perfectly respectable in the pre-quad
era not so very long ago, but not exactly what he had planned.
Title contender Yevgeny Plushchenko improvised after missing an
opening quad and spiraled completely out of contention, finishing
Yagudin started well, landing a quadruple toe, triple toe -- barely -- and nailing another quadruple toe on the other end of the
ice. His triple axel landing was low, but held. He hit four more
triples, including another axel, but fell on the final triple lutz.
He left the ice defeated.
Though the program to Pucini's "Tosca" was at times balletic -- earning seven 5.9s -- the technical flaws were costly. Yagudin, 20, grimaced, and crossed himself, then saluted the crowd before
leaving the ice.
The title was waiting for Plushchenko, the last to skate.
After doubling the planned quad, he barely held the landing on a
triple axel and then started making things up as he went along.
Where he had planned a triple axel, the 18-year-old Russian
attempted another quad and went down on both elbows.
Yagudin was watching on television.
"He missed two quads, then I left. I understood I'd won,"
Yagudin said. "I was trying the whole season to be really the
best. And then in 4½ minutes your season is over."
Stojko's experience showed when the three-time world champion
hit three strong triples after slamming to the ice on the opening
"It's about never giving up. Not just quadruple jumps," said
Stojko, who at 28 is one of the oldest competitors. "If I keep
that never-give-up attitude, it's weird, I end up at the top."
After touching down on a triple axel and stepping out of a quad,
Weiss hardly seemed in medal contention when he walked off the ice,
at that point second to Stojko with Yagudin and Plushchenko still
"After watching them skate, I was more upset with myself,"
said Weiss, of Fairfax, Va. "If I'd gone in and done a
better program, at least I might have pushed Yagudin."
The only skater other than Yagudin to hit two quadruples was
Timothy Goebel, the 19-year-old American who did a quadruple
salchow-triple toe loop combination and another quad toe loop.
Bothered by a muscle injury in his left calf, he considered leaving
out the quad toe loop, and hadn't practiced it since Sunday.
Goebel finished 11th, one position better than last year.
"This year wasn't about getting a medal. It was about me
developing and improving," he said.
In a rare upset in the usually predictable dance event, Italians
Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio took a lead with their
ballroom-inspired original dance routine, beating the leading dance
pair and home favorites Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, who
slipped during the mandatory side-by-side step portion.
"This time I can't say we skated really, really well,"
Peizerat said. "But we have a very strong and powerful program for
Russians Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbukh are third going into
Friday's final free program, which counts for 50 percent of the
Both of the American dance pairs are in the top 15 going into
the final free. U.S. champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev of
Detroit, who have been working with Olympic ice dance star
Christopher Dean, are in eighth. They finished 10th last year in
their world debut.
"We were hoping for a lot better, but it makes up for it when
you know you've skated well," Lang said.
Competing in their first world championships, Jamie Silverstein
and Justin Pekarek improved from 14th following the compulsories to
13th going into the final with a flashy cha cha and sensuous rumba.
"We're really delighted," Pekarek said.
| ||Alexei Yagudin captured his third world championship in Nice, France.|| |
Michelle Kwan regains world figure skating crown
French take the dance world title
Latin rhythms dominate dance competition
Worlds of problems
Alexei Yagudin performs at Worlds (Courtesy: ABC Sports)
Michael Weiss' short program at Worlds (Courtesy: ABC Sports)