The Ladies Short Program was a testament on ice. It was an evening of amazing skating, great personal triumphs, small victories, and big accomplishments.
First, One Winter, Five Dreams athlete Tugba Karademir gave us all something to cheer about. Tomorrow I'll share some insights about Tugba and the time I spent with her but I am pleased that she has qualified to skate in the free program. She gave a wonderful performance to 'Bazaar Istanbul' and while I was a little disappointed in the judges marks I was not disappointed in her at all. We proudly waved the Turkish Flag she had signed for us! Great job Tugba and go get em' the free skate!
The American Women have exceeded expectations here and both Rachael Flatt and Mirai Nagasu find themselves in the top group of women heading into tomorrow's free skate. U.S. Media has been harping on the fact that American women had little chance to medal but both Rachael and Mirai have proved they are in this competition too!
Joannie Rochette, had probably the toughest job of all. On top of the pressure to compete for your home country, she tragically lost her mother to a heart attack just Sunday and had to deal with the intense grief that accompanies such a painful lost. But rather than withdraw from the competition and mourn in private, she choose to continue with the competition and compete. When she took the ice, I have never felt such a wave a support for any athlete. Canada is well aware of her loss and the crowd at Pacific Coliseum showered her with love prior to her performance. I watched with tears in my eyes as she hit element after element perfectly...effortlessly. At the end of her performance she was met with thunderous applause, an instant standing ovation, and a flood of tears from the Canadian crowd that was so proud of her and behind her. She herself collapsed into tears in the arms of her coach as she received her marks. She's in position to medal, but I suspect that doesn't really matter at this point. What's more important is she is doing what her mother wanted her to do...her best.
The two top competitors gave the crowd an epic showdown. First, Japan's Mao Asada hit the first ever triple axel combination in an Olympic Ladies short program on her way to a huge score that brought the house down. Completely unaffected, Kim Yu-Na from South Korea, turned in an equally brilliant performance to music from 'James Bond' that also was an instant hit in Pacific Coliseum. The crowd went nuts when she broke her own World Record with a new high top score. I was sitting behind Kim Yu-Na's choreographer David Wilson, who basically skated the program with her from his seat. He was probably one of the most nervous people in the room and was delighted (and I think relieved) to see her score. These two ladies, Yu-Na and Mao, were billed as the two to beat coming into these Olympics and they didn't disappoint.
What will the free skate hold?