Team USA Increases Medal Haul at Nebelhorn Trophy

by Tatiana Flade, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
The ladies medalists: Katy Taylor, bronze; Bebe Liang, gold; Arina Martinova (Russia), silver

(9/30/06) - Bebe Liang claimed the ladies gold medal Saturday on the third and final day of the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany. Katy Taylor moved up one spot to earn the bronze medal, and Morgan Matthews & Max Zavozin completed the U.S. medal haul with a second-place finish in ice dancing. The United States won the Fritz Geiger Memorial Team Trophy with 40 points.

Performing to "Caravan," Liang opened with a layback spin and a triple flip-double toe combination, but then she missed the triple Lutz. The 18-year-old went on to complete a double Axel, a triple toe-double toe combination, a triple loop, another triple toe and strong spins, but she went down on the second Lutz attempt as well.

The Californian scored 96.87 points for this program and took the title at 150.76 points. It was her second trip to Oberstdorf. Last year, Liang won the bronze medal.

"I felt really good," Liang said. "I'm just glad that I put out a good program. I've worked very hard on really training myself before coming here.

"I was thinking a little ahead of myself in the program," she continued, talking about her problems with the Lutz. "I really have to concentrate on taking just one thing at a time in my program. So I have something to work on for the next competition."

Arina Martinova of Russia, who stood in third place after the short program, delivered a dynamic performance to "Don Quixote," but she fell on an underrotated triple flip and her Salchow was downgraded as well. The Muscovite landed a triple Lutz-double toe and a triple toe-double toe combination as well as a double Axel and showed fast spins. She came in second with a total of 132.04 points.

"I never have been in the top three in an international competition before, so I'm very pleased," Martinova said. "I will mostly work on my jumps. I got some downgrades. But this was just the first competition of the season for me, and I think everything will be OK."

Taylor produced a nice double Axel, a triple Lutz-double toe, a triple loop, a level four flying sit spin and a level three combination spin, but she fell on a triple Salchow, and the landings on her two flips and the second Lutz were flawed. The 16-year-old was awarded 84.61 points and accumulated a total score of 130.22 points.

"I'm very happy with today's performance. Like in the short, it was the debut of my program. Every first competition is really tough for me, coming back on to the scene of competition, keeping things together. I'm really proud of myself, and I have to take everything from here," Taylor said. "My next event is Skate America. I probably take (from this event that) I need to stay focused more. I think at the end of my program I was loosing focus and not checking hard enough. I need to work on my speed also."

Team USA won the team trophy at Nebelhorn.
Free Dance
Matthews and Zavozin put out a smooth performance to "Croatian Rhapsody," "Hana's Eyes" and other pieces of Maxim Mrvica. They earned a level four for all their lifts and a level three for their spin and the synchronized twizzles. The 2005 World Junior champions received 82.54 points for their free dance and racked up a total score of 165.21 points.

"We skated well," Matthews said. "We've been listening to this music the past couple of years, and we decided it would be a good change, something more light hearted."

"It was a good way to start off the season," Zavozin said. "Now we want to polish our programs."

The couple came close to beat Great Britain's Sinead Kerr and John Kerr who earned 82.66 points for their free dance and had 166.20 points overall. The brother-and-sister team chose "The Last of the Mohicans" soundtrack for their free dance and produced interesting lifts and level three footwork, but John tripped briefly right at the exit of the serpentine lift. Like Matthews and Zavozin, they received a deduction for an extended lift.

"There was a little stumble," John said. "That's something that actually never happened in practice before, and I hope it never happens again."

The couple revealed that they had used this music before.

"We used this music six years ago in our first year together, and it always was an ambition of ours to bring it to a bigger stage," he said.

His sister felt that they still can improve the presentation aspect of their program.

"Today, this being the first competition of the season, our coach told us mainly to think about the elements," she said. "He just wanted to check what levels we would get and make sure we would concentrate on the timings. So possibly the presentation lacked a bit to what we hope it will be later on in the season."

Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski (Israel), who are training with the Kerrs under the tutelage of Evgeny Platov, finished third at 156.67 points. They delivered a dramatic dance to "Carmina Burana" but had two deductions for extended lifts.

Performing to "The Phantom of the Opera," Kate Slattery & C.G. Lee looked much more solid than in the first phases of the competition. They were ranked sixth in the free dance with 68.12 points and pulled up to eighth with 130.77 points.

"We finally skated better," Slattery said. "We're really glad that we finished sixth in the free dance. It finally felt like we were skating - everything else was a kind of disaster. We just want to work hard and keep on going and skate better next time we compete. Our next event will be Eastern Sectionals, and there we want to skate three clean performances and a much better rhumba."

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