I couldn't have asked for a better end to the competition. It was really exciting!
I attended public medal ceremony for the Ice Dance Medalists. Tanith Belbin talked at length about the short prep time she and Ben had for this competition. She was thankful to have earned the silver. She lavished praise on all her competitors and thanked the crowd for pushing she and Ben.
The ladies final...what a competition! First, France's Candice Didier gave us a scare early. She stumbled out of a triple jump and ended up hitting the ice hard belly and face first. She then slammed into the boards out of control. She lay on the ice for about 20 seconds rolling around in complete agony. Medical personnel were quick to respond and she did manage to leave the ice under her own power. She took about 2 minutes to gather herself off the ice and stepped back onto the ice while receiving a rousing ovation. Somehow, she managed to finish her program. At the end of her skate, she doubled over in certain pain, took a quick bow, and listlessly skated off the ice. By completing her program, she managed to earn France an Olympic Berth in Vancouver...a berth likely to be hers!
Alissa Czisny had an amazing comeback after her meltdown in the short program. Her free skate was judged one of the best on the night and she pulled up to 11th after being in 14th. Two other skaters had amazing nights, Alena Leonova of Russia and Elene Gedevanishvili of Georgia both put down personal bests and earned their countries two Olympic berths. Sarah Meier did the same for Switzerland. The final skater in the Penultimate group was Rachael Flatt. She had a solid skate and got a great ovation from the crowd, but I feel like she is still lacking some connection with the audience...it wasn't easy for us to leap out of our seats like we did for Czisny. Still, a solid score and 5th place overall finish...not shabby for her first senior worlds.
The final group was interesting to say the least. Mao Asada kicked things off. She opened with a gorgeous triple axel combo but then fell on her second attempt. After that point the program lacked spark. It was if she knew she had to do everything in order to win and that mistake meant it was over. Despite a solid program, not the score she was looking for. Only a 4th place finish for Asada. Rochette was next and while not as technically proficient as asada, she skated a beautiful program and that was the difference. She squeaked past Asada and took the silver overall, an amazing achievement for her. Miki Ando was next and put on a jumping clinic, landing seven triple jumps. Her program received high marks and she pulled ahead of Asada, much to her shock! Ando won the bronze and, unexpectedly, was the highest placing Japanese woman. Kim was next to skate and she was mesmerizing. She did have a botched salchow but nobody cared because she was just so beautiful to watch. The crowd cheered for what seemed like an eternity and when the score went up she shattered the previous record (held by Asada) for the highest total ever, becoming the first woman to crack the 200 mark. Her performance gave Michelle Kwan something to think about in contemplating her own possible return. She eluded to the fact during the NBC telecast that before she makes a decision she'll have to make sure she can competitive with these girls. The final two skaters of the night had a tough job to follow the previous programs. Carolina Kostner was clearly affected, she failed to complete a single clean triple and dropped all the way to 12th place. Laura Lepisto managed to hang on to 6th place after a pretty program that lacked the technical content of the top women.
So much to take in this week...but it's been a blast. Tomorrow is the exhibition and then I'm on the red-eye back to Chicago Sunday night. I've had a blast here in L.A. and I'm psyched now for the run-up to Vancouver...it's going to be something!