article "Lambiel, Kim Win GP Titles"
By COLLEEN BARRY
written by COLLEEN BARRY of The Associated Press
TURIN, Italy (AP) - South Korea's Kim Yu-na successfully defended her
Grand Prix Final women's figure skating title Saturday, keeping her
nerves after a fall - something most of her competitors did not
Two-time world champion Stephane Lambiel won the men's title,
adjusting his fiery Flamenco program after a pair of faulty jumps to
edge Japan's Daisuke Takahashi.
Among the women, only silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan and bronze
winner Carolina Kostner of Italy skated without falls, both capturing
Rising American Caroline Zhang, who was a surprise second coming into
the final free skate, fell on a triple lutz and finished fourth in her
first major international competition, while U.S. champion Kimmie
Meissner fell three times and ended up last in sixth place.
The women's competition came down to the rivalry between the
17-year-old Asian dynamos Kim and Asada that will carry over to the
2008 world championships in Sweden.
"It's good to have a rivalry," Asada said. "We want to continue to
have good performances and motivate each other."
Kim excelled on her execution, skating fast into her big opening
triple flip-triple toe, only to fall on her next element, a triple
loop. But she made the rest of her jumps, including a difficult double
axel-triple toe combination, and earned mostly top ratings for her
spins and spirals. Her winning score was 196.83 points.
Asada had the more difficult basic program, including a triple
axel-triple toe combination, but her triple-triple combination did not
match Kim's. She captured the long program with a beautifully
choreographed routine to Chopin, but omitting the jump in the short
program had left her in last place and even her season's-best free,
earning a 191.59, couldn't catapult her to the gold.
Kostner, the home crowd's favorite, said she managed to quell the
jitters that haunted her on the same ice in the 2005 European
championships and 2006 Olympics, when she missed the podium both
times. This time she skated not only for a season-best 178.93 - but
also had fun, basking in Italian adulation.
Lambiel's victory - he scored 239.10 points to beat Takahashi by 0.16
marks a comeback for the Swiss skater who claimed Olympic silver on
the same ice nearly two years ago but then dropped to third in the
"I don't do only a program, I do a show. That makes the difference I
think," Lambiel said. "When I'm on the ice I want to feel the crowd
getting into the program, getting into the motion. I think that, for
me, makes a real figure skater."
As in the short program, American men Evan Lysacek and Johnny Weir
committed errors - both falling in the free skate - to finish third
and fourth, respectively.
Lambiel, the eight-time Swiss champion, had a shaky start on the jumps
- losing points on his opening triple axel and quad toe. But he made
up for the lost quad-combination points with several improvised
combinations late in the program, including a triple-triple-double.
And his Flamenco routine drew gasps from the crowd with dazzling spins
- the best in the field - that were tight and fast with continually
changing arm and body positions.
Takahashi, the world silver medalist, was the better jumper,
completing a flawless quadruple and a strong triple axel. But none of
the more expressive elements, the spins and jumps, were deemed to be
at the top level, hurting the second performance mark.
"The steps were not good," Takahashi conceded. "But I can still get
this result, and this is good for me."
Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, skating furiously as a
witch and demon to Waltz Masquerade, won the ice dancing ahead of
Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, who skated to a selection
from Chopin. France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder took
European pairs champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of
Germany dominated the free skate with powerful throws and jumps to win
the pairs with 199.21 points, their season high.
The Chinese pairs both made some errors, with Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao
taking silver with 191.20 and Pang Qing and Tong Jian getting bronze