Friday, February 24, 2006

Olympic Blog, Part 7

Pavarotti gave a wonderful performance of Nessun Dorma from Puccinni's Turnadot to close the Opening Ceremonies at the start of these Olympic Games. It was an outstanding performance that captured the spirit of the Olympic Games.

Thursday night at La Palavela, Shizuka Arakawa, gave an inspired and beautiful performance to win Olympic Gold and clench Japan's first medal of these Olympic Games! Sasha Cohen salvaged a Silver Medal and Irina Slutskaya squeaked out a Bronze Medal.

Sasha, who skated early in the final group, went down on her very first jump, Triple Lutz. She then stepped out of her next jump, the Triple Flip. After two costly mistakes, Sasha picker herself up and went on to land the remainder of her jumps cleanly. Sasha also kept a high performance level, not giving up on her choreography after the technical mistakes. After the performance she commented, "It's one night – four minutes and a piece of metal," she said. "It's more about the journey over the four years. It's not a one-night journey. In the process I learned a lot about myself and enjoyed it."

Arakawa took the ice next and seized the golden opportunity. Shizuka hit her first two combinations, Triple Lutz-Double Loop and Triple Salchow Double Loop with ease. After hitting a nice Triple Flip, she experienced her only flaw when she doubled her planned Triple Loop. She went on to complete 3 more triples including a second Triple Lutz. She delivered her entire program with a cool elegance that has become Arakawa's trademark. After her program she looked shocked when her scores came up...a new personal best.

Slutskaya skated last in the group. She looked tentative and nervous throughout her program, after the half-way point in the program a planned Triple Flip became a double and then she went down on her Triple Loop. You could tell on her face she was deeply dissapointed. As Shizuka and Sasha celebrated their medals during the medal ceremony, Irina stood, stone-faced and shell shocked. Her dissapointment mirrors that of Michelle Kwan's...after an Olympic Silver Medal she stuck it out 4 more years, came in as the favorite, and went home with Bronze.

Other notable performances on the evening inluded Fumie Suguri, who, in my opinion, deserved a spot on the podium. Americans Meissner and Hughes finished 6th and 7th with good performances in their first major international competition, and Joannie Rochette pulled way up from 9th to finish in the top 5 with a fantastic performance.

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