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Meissner Wins Gold, Hughes Collects the Silver at Four Continentsby Troy Schwindt
Photo by Matt Stockman/Getty Images
(2/10/07) - A disappointing short program finish was all the motivation Kimmie Meissner needed when she took the ice Saturday afternoon at the Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.
The reigning U.S. champion regrouped nicely in front of an enthusiastic crowd to overtake the 24-woman field and claim the title with a score of 172.75 points. U.S. silver medalist Emily Hughes placed second after a personal best free skate, and Canada's Joannie Rochette earned the bronze.
Sixth after the short program but only four points behind short program leader Rochette, Meissner connected on her opening triple Lutz-triple toe combination and finished her “Galicie Flamenco” program in strong fashion.
Meissner's only stumble came during the third of 13 elements when she popped the front end of a triple flip-triple toe combination.
“I definitely found some more determination today,” said the 17-year-old Maryland teenager who is a senior at Fallston High School. “At nationals when I was first after the short it was different. I'm used to being here [lower in the standings] and having to come up. Not from sixth, but I'd rather be first.
“I was pretty disappointed with myself after the short because I do train so much every day. I know I have that jump [Lutz]. I can do it in my sleep. It really makes me mad when I miss something that to me is really easy. I guess I was a little angry at myself.”
Meissner, the defending World champion, said the Four Continents Championships title means a lot to her, and she was excited to turn in a solid free skate heading into the World Championships next month in Japan.
“It felt good to land those Lutzes,” Meissner said. “I felt stronger (as the program went on).”
Hughes took the lead momentarily with a score of 166.60 after turning in a personal best free skate.
Performing to music from the ballet “Sylvia,” Hughes skated well despite leaving her first two combination jumps on the shelf. She later tacked on a double toe to a triple toe.
“This is the first time I'm going out there and doing all the triples,” said Hughes, an 18-year-old senior from Great Neck, N.Y. “Even though I didn't do some combinations, I'm really happy about getting my personal best, which is always a goal of mine. I'm hoping to build on that for Worlds.”
Rochette, 21, popped both of her triple Lutzes in an otherwise strong performance. The three-time and reigning Canadian champion, skating her “Don Juan” program, finished with a total of 165.90 points.
“The Lutz wasn't the best, but it was tough coming here after nationals,” Rochette said. “Overall I used this as part of my training getting ready for Worlds.”
Rochette thought about adding a double toe to her second triple Lutz toward the end of her program but was too tired to make that happen.
Spins, such as those performed by fourth-place skater Alissa Czisny of the United States, is a goal for Rochette as she moves forward with her career.
“She's a great spinner,” Rochette said. “I look up to her for that. My long program technically is strong enough to compete against the best in the world. I just need one more triple in the short.”
Czisny, fourth after the short program, fell twice on her triple flip and triple Lutz and settled for fifth place with a score of 154.03.
“I was a little bit disappointed in my long program here,” said the 2007 U.S. bronze medalist. “It was quite quick after nationals. We only had a couple of days to come down and get ready for this competition. So it was a little bit more difficult in that respect. I think it was just good to get myself out in front of the judges again.”