Tara Lipinski on the women's competition: Time to up the ante
Editor's note: With the World Figure Skating Championships in town last week, Ticket to Vancouver featured posts from skaters who have been in elite competitions and won. It ended Saturday night with the ladies' free skate competition. Gold medalist and 1997 world champion Tara Lipinski, who wrote on Thursday and again on Saturday, wraps up that event for us today.
Kim Yu-Na skated her heart out Saturday night. She took the ice with a commanding lead coming out of the short program. She left the ice with a world title, becoming the first skater to earn over a combined 200 points. Nerves can take away the natural emotion and passion that skaters feel on the ice. Not Yu-Na, her skating had a remarkable lyrical quality accompanied by fierce athleticism. As I watched her, I felt her every emotion and was completely drawn into her program. Coached by newly inducted World Hall of Fame member Brian Orser, she kept the audience captivated the entire four minutes. I am so happy for Brian, he is a wonderful skater and no doubt a dedicated, caring, and immensely talented coach. His experience has probably been most invaluable to her.
Mao Asada knew she had to bring it. She is the only female to ever land two triple axels in competition. Saturday night she landed one of the two in her program. The first was in combination and flawless. Mao was in it to win and skated her free skate with familiar race. Coming in as reigning world champion may have added to the pressure, but at this level there is always pressure. She has a year to get ready for the Olympics and I know she will be training hard with Coach Tatiana Tarasova, who has taken more skaters to Olympic gold than any other. If she skates with two triple axels in Vancouver, she may be tough to beat.
I know Joannie Rochette must be excited to have the Olympics on her home turf. Her two programs were choreographed beautifully, the short by Shae Lynn Bourne and the long by Lori Nichols. She is energetic and powerful. How exciting it could be to skate for gold in your country!
I am so proud of Rachael Flatt. At her world championships debut she took fifth place. She skated strong and if you didn’t know better it looked as though she had been there a few times before. One of the things I like about Rachael is that she is a focused competitor. If she has nerves I couldn’t tell by watching her. She sure keeps them in tow.
Alissa Czisny came back in the long, not letting misses from the short program affect her performance. Alissa, I know what you went through. I had a rough short program at the 1996 world championships but skated well in the long. It is a great way to end the competition and begin to focus on next year.
Although Vancouver is less than a year away, these ladies have an entire season facing them. You can’t get ahead of yourself -- a lot can happen. You have to take each competition one at a time. A year can also bring a lot of surprises. The current favorites might not be the favorites in Vancouver. I think it will come down to who wants it most and who is going to train the hardest. There will be highs and lows in any season but its all about peaking at the right time. It’s also time to up the ante. Yu-Na won with five triples. The door is still open. It will be interesting to see who walks thorough it.
Choreographing my programs for my Olympic year was one of the most memorable and cherished moments of my journey to Nagano. I hope that all these talented ladies will treasure the special moments as they prepare their new programs for this upcoming year.
They could be the programs that take them to the games.
They could be the programs that take them to the gold.
-- Tara Lipinski