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Category: World Figure Skating Championships

Skate coach Carroll expects his move won't affect Nagasu

Bumped into Frank Carroll at Monday night's "Dancing With the Stars" show, where he was a front-row guest of his Olympic champion skater and "DWTS" contestant Evan Lysacek.

Even though Carroll was dazed by his 24-hour Sunday trip back from the world championships in Turin, Italy, we talked briefly about news of another trip he is taking, moving his primary coaching base from the Toyota Sports Center near LAX  to a new rink 130 miles east in Cathedral City, near his home in Palm Springs.

EvAnna2 Carroll, 71, confirmed a report about the move that surfaced over the weekend on the figure skating fan site Michelle Kwan Forum.  In our brief conversation, he said the move shouldn't present any problems for his other Olympic skater, 16-year-old Mirai Nagasu.  They began working together before the 2010 season.

"From where she lives, it takes about the same time to get to Cathedral City as it does to [Toyota]," Carroll said.

Carroll will remain at Toyota through July, then coach at Lake Arrowhead until the expected October opening of the rink in Cathedral City.

As for Lysacek, who lives about two hours closer to Toyota than to Cathedral City, he has yet to decide about remaining in competitive skating at the Olympic level.

During a Tuesday conversation in the "Dancing With the Stars" lunch trailer, where he picked at fruit and salad, Lysacek said there would be ways for him to continue working with Carroll should he remain in Olympic-style skating. 

"If I go to my house in Las Vegas on the weekends, I could hit that rink on the way back [to Los Angeles, where he also will keep a residence] and train there for a couple days,'" Lysacek said.  "Frank has a huge house, so hopefully he wouldn't mind if I stayed in one of his many bedrooms.

"We haven't really talked about it.  He didn't want to distract me before the Olympics.  I just sort of heard it [the move] was happening very quickly, but I was busy with all of this, and he was getting ready for worlds.  I'm sure I will also continue to train here at Toyota Sports Center because I live here.

"My general feeling is if I am going to go for another Olympics, I can't miss a whole season.  So I would have to decide soon and be ready to compete in the fall."

Before he went into the "DWTS" ballroom, where he sat between Lysacek's mother, Tanya, and 1998 Olympic champion Tara Lipinski, Carroll shook his head over the mistake -- and the mind-set -- that had cost Nagasu a world bronze medal last week, when she won the short program but finished 11th in the free skate and seventh overall in Turin.

"She kept telling me, 'I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared' before going out on the ice for the free skate,'' Carroll said, "and that's obviously something we will have to work on."

Despite several major mistakes -- including a fall on a double axel -- Nagasu finished just 3.14 points behind bronze medalist Laura Lepisto.  Had Nagasu merely stayed upright on the double axel and received a neutral grade of execution, it would have been worth 3.47 more points than she received for the botched, downgraded execution of a relatively simple jump for a skater of her level.

"All season long, we have been telling her, 'Skate, skate' when she comes out of the spread eagle and goes into the double axel, but she still had the tendency to slow down, and this time it really was costly," Carroll said.

The coach still was extremely pleased with Nagasu's season, given her having finished second at the U.S. championships and fourth at the Olympics, the two events before worlds.

"Her last six programs, five of them were great," he said.  "And seventh at your first [senior] worlds isn't that bad.  Dorothy Hamill [the 1976 Olympic champion] was seventh in her first worlds.''

-- Philip Hersh

Evan Lysacek and partner Anna Trebunskaya perform the jive Monday on Week 2  of the current edition of "Dancing With the Stars."  For the second week in a row, judges gave them the second-highest scores.   Adam Larkey /ABC


No tears, but Nagasu still must get past fears

MiraiCliveRoseGetty

At least there was no big crying jag for Mirai Nagasu this time.

Nagasu has made substantial overall improvement since that episode at November's Cup of China, yet she still must learn to cope with what caused it: the pressure of being first after the short program at an international competition. Call it fear of flying high.

As Mao Asada of Japan won her second world title in three seasons, helped by a second straight badly flawed performance by reigning Olympic champion Kim Yuna of South Korea, short program winner Nagasu came undone in the free skate Saturday at Turin, Italy.

The 16-year-old from Arcadia, Calif., made three significant errors and plummeted to 7th overall with an 11th in the free skate. "Coming off the Olympics, where I was fourth, finishing seventh here is a really big blow," Nagasu said. "I feel really bad." Reigning U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was 9th, four places below her 2009 finish.

Nagasu's coach, Frank Carroll, had insisted she shed "no more tears'' after the China event, when she dropped to 5th after the free skate. Despite some snuffling in her voice, Nagasu kept a mostly stiff upper lip in an interview with Universal Sports after Saturday's poor performance.

Prior to Saturday, she had put together five straight strong performances -- three short programs, two free skates -- at major events: the U.S. Championships, Olympics and worlds. That was big step up from last season, when a growth spurt, a foot injury and teenage angst left her a very tearful fifth at nationals -- a year after her surprising U.S. title at age 14 -- and prompted the coaching change that brought her to Carroll. 

She always has been hard on herself, and Saturday was no exception. "I told myself last year that I wouldn't feel like this any more, so it's really a bummer to feel like this again," Nagasu said. "It took a lot to get me out of the pits last year, and I sort of feel like I'm there again now. I'm going to go home and try to get ready for next season and just take it one step at a time." 

Nagasu started badly in the free skate, with a stepout on her first triple lutz that kept her from doing a combination. Then she had a two-footed landing on her second triple lutz, which was downgraded to a double, and a fall on a double axel, which was called a single.  Her final planned triple, an easy toe loop, also was downgraded.

"Sorry," Nagasu said to Carroll after coming off the ice. An hour later, she was trying to talk a U.S. figure skating official into going for ice cream at a nearby mall. The only positive about the free skate came in the component (or artistry) scores, where Nagasu ranked a more presentable 6th. 

Kim's chances of retaining her 2009 world title disappeared when she botched two of her final three jumps. Kim's score, 130.49, was nearly 20 points below the record total (150.06) she amassed in her Olympic victory last month. It was good enough to win the free skate, but well short of overcoming the eight-point lead Asada had over Kim after the short program, when the South Korean made mistakes on three different elements.

Asada, the Olympic silver medalist, finished with 197.58 to 190.79 for Kim. Extremely generous scoring for a program filled with double jumps (eight doubles to just three triples) gave Laura Lepisto 178.62, allowing her to hang onto third by .8 over Japan's Miki Ando and become the first Finnish woman to win a world medal. HugDamienMeyerGettyNagasu had 175.48, Flatt, 167.44.

Kim fell on a triple salchow and popped a double axel.  She also lacked spark throughout the 4-minute program. "My short program and the morning practice was not good, and I was worried," Kim said. "I am glad I was able to overcome the difficulties."

Kim's free skate score was still more than respectable. Only three other women (Asada, Joannie Rochette and Sasha Cohen) have scored higher. Kim, 19, said she would wait until after taking a break before deciding about competing next season. She was the first woman to skate at worlds in the same season she won the Olympic title since Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. in 1992.

Upon arriving in Turin, Kim said she had struggled with finding the motivation for worlds. "The Olympic Games were the biggest goal in my life," Kim said Saturday. "After winning the gold medal, I thought there was nothing more." 

Asada was second in 2007, first in 2008, then fourth last year, when Kim began to dominate the women's competition. "It has been a long time that I felt I had to work harder because of her (Kim)," Asada said. "Thanks to her, I grow as a skater, and I will be encouraged to work harder even from now on."

Asada, 19, gave every indication she will continue competing.  She is looking for a new coach after two seasons with Russia's Tatiana Tarasova.

-- Philip Hersh

Top photo: A dejected Mirai Nagasu, with coach Frank Carroll, after hearing her free skate scores. Credit: Clive Rose / Getty Images. Bottom photo: World champion Mao Asada of Japan congratulates silver medalist Kim Yuna of South Korea before the medal presentation Saturday. Credit: Damien Meyer / Getty Images


Kim loses world title to Asada; Nagasu falls to seventh

Asada_300

Kim Yuna's chances of retaining her world title disappeared when she botched two of her final three jumps in Saturday's free skate at Turin, Italy. Japan's Mao Asada took the title for the second time in three years.

And short program leader Mirai Nagasu of the U.S. came undone, dropping all the way to seventh in the final standings after a free skate with three major errors.

Nagasu was only 11th in the free skate.

Kim's free skate score, 130.49, was nearly 20 points below the record total (150.06) the South Korean amassed in her Olympic victory last month.

Asada overtook Kim in the overall score. Asada was lower in the free skate. Asada had a total score of 197.58 to 190.79 for Kim.  Laura Lepisto was third, becoming the first Finnish woman to win a medal at worlds.

Kim, 19, fell on a triple salchow and popped a double axel.  She also lacked spark throughout the 4-minute program.

As she came off the ice, her coach, Brian Orser, said, "You got through it.  Don't worry about it."

Kim's free skate score still was more than respectable.  She had only 111.70 at Skate America last fall, and only three other women (Asada, Joannie Rochette and Sasha Cohen) ever had scored higher than 130.49 going into Saturday's action.

But Kim had finished just seventh in the short program Friday with the third lowest score of her senior career, 10 points behind Nagasu and 8 behind Asada.  Kim botched a jump, a spin and a spiral in the short program.

"I'm sorry,'' Nagasu said to her coach, Frank Carroll, as she left the ice.

Nagasu started badly, with a stepout on her first triple lutz that kept her from doing a combination.  Then she had a two-footed landing on her second triple lutz and fell on a double axel.  She finished at 175.48.

U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was 9th, four places below her 2009 finish.

Kim is the first woman to compete at worlds in the same season she won the OIympic title since Kristi Yamaguchi of the U.S. in 1992.

Earlier this week, Kim said she had struggled with finding the motivation to compete at worlds.

-- Philip Hersh


Kim botches two jumps in free skate; leaders yet to take ice

Kim Yuna's chances of retaining her world title apparently disappeared when she botched two of her final three jumps in Saturday's free skate at Turin, Italy.

Her score, 130.49, was nearly 20 points below the record total (150.06) the South Korean amassed in her Olympic victory last month.

Kim, 19, fell on a triple salchow and popped a double axel. She also lacked spark throughout the four-minute program.

As she came off the ice, her coach, Brian Orser, said, "You got through it. Don't worry about it."

There were nine skaters remaining when Kim finished, including short program winner Mirai Nagasu of the United States and 2008 world champion Mao Asada of Japan.

Kim's free skate score still was more than respectable. She had only 111.70 at Skate America last fall, and only three other women (Asada, Joannie Rochette and Sasha Cohen) ever had scored higher than 130.49 going into Saturday's action. But Kim had finished just seventh in the short program Friday with the third lowest score of her senior career, 10 points behind Nagasu and 8 behind Asada. Kim botched a jump, a spin and a spiral in the short program.

-- Philip Hersh

U.S. skater Nagasu wins world short program; Olympic champ Kim 7th

A month ago, as the Winter Olympics ended, I wrote a blog saying the most enduring memory I would take from Vancouver was a vision of Mirai Nagasu as the next Olympic women's figure skating champion.

MiraiDamienMeyerGetty Friday, the 16-year-old from Arcadia, Calif., looked like just that.

With a stunning performance in the short program at the World Championships in Turin, Italy, Nagasu stands first with 70.40 points going into Saturday's free skate.

Even more stunningly, she took a 10-point lead over Olympic champion and reigning world champion Kim Yuna of South Korea, who had problems on three different types of skating elements and wound up 7th with 60.30 points, 18 fewer than her world-record score in Vancouver.

Given her recent level of excellence, it was undoubtedly the worst short program of Kim's career at the senior level, although she had lower scores twice before, at the 2008 worlds and 2007 Cup of China.

KimAPPaulChiasson An aborted entry meant Kim got no credit for her layback spin. She was given level 1 - of a possible 4- for the spiral, with a negative grade of execution, and the triple flip was downgraded to a double. Kim, who has won her last six international events, said later she had never before missed an element other than a jump.

"I was a little scared to compete again," Kim said. "The Olympic Games were my goal, and I wasn't sure I could fight again for the World Championships. But tomorrow I will fight, because my motivation is still high. I have to forget about this."

Nagasu's score -- five points better than her 2-year-old personal best short program -- gave her a lead of 2.32 points over Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan.

"I'm trying not to think about (the free skate)," said Nagasu, a world meet rookie now in position to become the first U.S. woman to win a world medal since Kimmie Meissner took the title in 2006.

Showing the same confidence that carried her to 4th at the Olympics, Nagasu upped her technical ante with a triple-triple on the opening combination (the second jump was downgraded to a double). It was her third straight strong short program performance in a major event, following those at the U.S. Championships and the Olympics.

U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was 6th with 60.88.MiraiSpDamkien 

Asada lost at least five points when the triple axel in her combination was called a double.  That mistake accounted for the difference between the score Friday (68.08) and her 73.78  last month in Vancouver, where she became the first woman to land a triple axel in an Olympic short program.

"Of course, I'm very disappointed because of the downgraded axel, but I think I was able to perform relatively well," Asada said.

The top two in Friday's ice dance final repeated their Olympic finish, with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada taking gold and Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. earning silver.

-- Philip Hersh

Photos, top to bottom: Mirai Nagasu points one finger as she reacts to seeing she is first in the short program. Credit: Damien Meyer / Getty Images. Kim Yuna has an expression and gesture of disbelief after her badly flawed performance. Credit: Paul Chiasson / Associated Press. Nagasu shows her grace and extension during a spiral sequence. Credit: Damien Meyer / Getty Images


U.S. skater Mirai Nagasu wins world short program; Olympic champ Kim Yuna finishes in seventh place [Updated]

A month ago, as the Olympics ended, I wrote a blog saying the most enduring memory I would take from Vancouver was a vision of Mirai Nagasu as the next Olympic champion.

On Friday, the 16-year-old from Arcadia, looked like just that. With a stunning performance in the short program at the World Championships in Turin, Italy, Nagasu finds herself in first place with 70.40 points going into Saturday's free skate.

Even more stunning, she took a 10-point lead over Olympic champion and reigning world champion Kim Yuna of South Korea, who had problems on a triple flip jump, totally botched part of her spiral sequence and wound up in seventh place with 60.30 points, 18 fewer than her world record score in Vancouver.

[Updated at 11:02 a.m.: It was undoubtedly the worst short program performance of Kim's career at the senior level, given her usual excellence, although she had lower scores twice before, at the 2008 worlds and 2007 Cup of China. Kim got no credit for one of her spins, and level 1-- of a possible 4 -- for the spiral with a negative grade of execution.]

Nagasu's score -- five points better than her 2-year-old personal-best short program -- gave her a lead of 2.32 points over Olympic silver medalist Mao Asada of Japan.

U.S. champion Rachael Flatt was sixth with 60.88 points, having done a triple-double for her opening combination instead of a planned triple-triple.

Asada lost nearly five potential points when her triple axel was downgraded to a double, meaning it was only a double axel-double toe combination. That mistake accounted for the difference between her score Friday (68.08) and the 73.78 she had scored last month in Vancouver, where she became the first woman to land a triple axel in an Olympic short program.

"I was a little bit tired, but tomorrow I will be stronger,'' Asada said. Her countrywoman, 2007 world champion Miki Ando, fared far worse, falling on the opening jump of her combination en route to an 11th-place performance.

Nagasu, fourth at the Olympics, upped the ante with a triple-triple on the opening combination of a third-straight strong short program performance, following those at the U.S. Championships and the Olympics.

-- Philip Hersh  


Amid slopfest and weak field, U.S. men hang onto three places in world championships

By Philip Hersh

The U.S. rookie, Adam Rippon, came through Thursday.

The two veterans, Jeremy Abbott and Ryan Bradley, were weak again.

Yet the United States still earned the maximum three spots for the 2011 world championships, thanks to a watered-down field at the 2010 worlds in Turin, Italy.

Rippon, 20, in his world meet debut, stepped out of one jump, a triple axel, but gave a thoroughly polished performance and took sixth, including a fifth to Abbott's sixth in the free skate Thursday.

Abbott, 24, the two-time U.S. champion, made it four straight muck-ups at major events.  He had been 11th at the last two worlds and ninth at the Olympics, the last a stunningly poor effort, given how brilliant his flawless skating had been at the U.S. Championships a month earlier. 

With four of the top six finishers at the Olympics missing from worlds, the level of competition was weak enough and the performances sloppy enough (four of the final six skaters fell) that Abbott got away with two falls -- one on a double axel (!), one on a quad -- in the free skate and still finished fifth to assure the U.S. men a third spot again next year.

To get three, the finishes of the top two U.S. skaters needed to total 13 or fewer.

Bradley, 26, skating with a broken metatarsal in his left foot, rebounded respectably from a painfully bad short program that had left him in 21st place.

Landing one quadruple jump and six triples, Bradley moved up three places in the final standings to 18th.

It was the second lowest finish for a U.S. man at the world championships:  only Dan Hollander's18th in a 1997 qualifying group is worse.  Bradley's 15th in his other worlds appearance, 2007, is fifth worst of all time for a U.S. man.

The U.S. trio was minus its top two Olympic performers, gold medalist Evan Lysacek (also the 2009 world champion) and sixth finisher Johnny Weir.

The messy free skate ended with a historic moment:  Daisuke Takahashi, the 2010 Olympic bronze medalist and last to skate, became the first Japanese man to win a world title.

Takahashi won by 10 points over Canada's Patrick Chan, silver medalist for the second straight year.  Brian Joubert of France took a second straight bronze, giving him medals in five straight world championships -- one gold, two silver, two bronze.

Although he needed take no risk, the 24-year-old Takahashi tried to be the first to land a quadruple flip jump and managed to stay upright but came down on two feet.

It finished quite a comeback for Takahashi, who missed the entire 2009 season with a knee injury.  His bronze in Vancouver was the first medal for a Japanese man at the Olympics.

Takahashi was the only medalist not to fall in the free skate.

Abbott, who beat Rippon by less than a point, was 25 behind Takahashi and more than nine from a medal.


Ice dance: It may take two to tango, but three is company for Team USA

Samuelson 

It's all over but the medal ceremony.

The only real suspense left in the ice dance competition at the 2010 world championships in Turin, Italy, is whether the United States will earn three places again for the 2011 worlds.

And that is up in the air going into Friday's free dance.

As it stands, the United States has exactly what it needs, the top two finishes adding up to 13 or fewer, to keep its third place. But recent history and the current standings give Team USA good reason to feel optimistic.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are second after Thursday's original dance -- the same place they had at the Olympics. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates are 11th -- the same place they had at the Olympics -- even though they finished 10th in each of the first two phases of the dance competition.

The third U.S. team, Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, is 13th.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, like an injury causing them to withdraw, Davis and White will finish no lower than second, as they have an enormous lead (12.53 points) over third-place Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali. The U.S. leaders trail Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada by 1.86.

Samuelson and Bates are 2.02 ahead of the 12th-place Hungarians, Nora Hoffmann and Max Zavonin, the latter a former U.S. competitor. Hoffmann and Zavonin finished behind Samuelson and Bates at the Olympics, and that likely will happen again.

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Emily Samuelson hanging on to partner Evan Bates during Thursday's original dance at the World Figure Skating Championships. The two University of Michigan students must hold on to their 11th place standing for the U.S. to earn the maximum three spots for the 2011 worlds. Credit: Yuri Kadobnov / Getty Images

U.S. pair gains, but remains far from world skating elite

By Philip Hersh


Despite his fall on their opening side-by-side triple jumps, the U.S. pair of Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett finished a respectable seventh at the world championships Wednesday in Turin, Italy.

It was two places better than their finish at the 2009 worlds and six better than their 13th at the 2010 Olympics. Three teams that finished ahead of them in Vancouver did not compete at the world championships.

Of course, even an 11-point improvement on their previous personal best score still left the U.S. champions looking like a triple-A team compared to the big leaguers in the top five.  Reason for optimism: this was only their second full year skating together. 

Denney-Barrett's 172.47 was 23 points behind fifth finishers Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao of China, 31 points behind bronze medalists Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia and nearly 40 behind new world champions  Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China.

The other U.S. team, Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig, were 9th at 165.96, meaning the U.S. will have two pairs spiots again at the 2011 worlds.


U.S. men on bubble to preserve third world skating slot

Rippon Not since 1999 have U.S. men earned just two spots for the ensuing World Figure Skating Championships.

After what happened in Wednesday's short program at the 2010 worlds in Turin, Italy, they are in danger of having it become an 11-year itch.

To get three places, the finishes of the top two skaters have to add up to 13 and fewer. After the short program, they are right at 13 -- sixth place for U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott and seventh for Adam Rippon.

That this was going to be a tricky math problem was clear when the top two U.S. finishers at the Olympics -- gold medalist Evan Lysacek and sixth finisher Johnny Weir -- decided to skip worlds, leaving the U.S. with this trio:

  • Two-time U.S. champion Abbott, a 11th-place flop at the last two worlds and a ninth-place flop at the Olympics, where he was 15th after the short program.
  • Ryan Bradley, fourth at nationals and 15th in his only other worlds appearance, skating with a broken bone in his foot.
  • Reigning Four Continents champion Rippon, fifth at nationals, a world meet rookie.

Abbott delivered a thoroughly respectable performance, marred only by a hinky landing on his triple axel, but it still left him well south of short program winner Daisuke Takahashi of Japan, the only 2010 Olympic medalist (bronze) at worlds.

Takahashi had 89.30 points to 81.05 for Abbott. "I was very pleased with how I skated today,'' Abbott said. "I really had to work my program. I wasn't in the zone.''

Rippon, coached by Brian Orser (who also coaches Olympic women's champion Kim Yuna), bettered his personal best by nearly five points with 80.11, his only significant flaw a turnout on the triple axel. A month ago, Bradley had a stress fracture in a metatarsal of his left foot, the takeoff foot for his quadruple jump. He fell on the quad that was to open a quad-triple combination, then doubled a planned triple axel and was left in 10th place with 15 skaters to go, putting him potentially on the bubble to be among the 24 qualifiers for Thursday's free skate.

"I really don't think it affected my short at all,'' Bradley said of the injury. "It just didn't happen today. It was about that, not what happened the past few weeks.... I just dropped the ball today.''

But the next skater, Pavel Kaska of the Czech Republic, finished below Bradley, assuring the U.S. skater of moving on, even though he wound up a dismal 21st in the short program.

France's Brian Joubert, the 2007 world champion coming back from an utter disaster (16th) at the Olympics, was the only one of the top finishers to attempt a quadruple jump. He landed it cleanly and followed it with a triple jump in combination and wound up third, a 10th behind Patrick Chan of Canada (87.80).

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Adam Rippon of the United States in Wednesday's short program at the World Figure Skating Championships. Credit: Clive Rose / Getty Images


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