Saturday, 23/6/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

No Lack of Surprises in Ladies Short Program

Twenty-one-old Cynthia Phaneuf of Contrcoeur, Quebec eclipsed four-time Canadian Champion Joannie Rochette for the lead after today’s short program.

Phaneuf came out of nowhere back in 2004 to win the coveted Canadian Ladies National Title. That win was followed by a unprecedented and controversial decision when Skate Canada announced the then sixteen-year-old would be left off the senior World Team and replaced by bronze medalist Jennifer Robinson. Skate Canada felt the youngster lacked the experience of international competition and Coach Annie Barabe did not want the teen under the intense pressure at her first major international event. Phaneuf, deflated by the decision went on to the Junior World Championships where she placed tenth. The Quebec based skater was declared the next “big one” and great hopes and expectations fell onto to her young shoulders. She competed the following season and captured silver at Skate America, Gold at Skate Canada and sixth at the Grand Prix Final.

It was at that point the youngster ran into trouble with injuries. Just as the injuries started to heal puberty stepped in and the teen lost all her triple jumps.

“It was a very bad period in my life,” Phaneuf stated. “I had to learn to jump all over again.”

It was heartbreak for the young champion who continued to struggle to regain her form. Now, five years later she is skating better than ever, with a new found confidence and sophistication in her programs.

“It was my confidence,” the twenty-one-year-old said of her inability to regain the form she displayed in 2004. “I am now working with a sports psychologist and they have helped me gain my perspective. When I would go out on the ice I would be all stressed out and I wasn’t using the stress well. I was using the stress in a bad way. Now I’m trying to use it in the right way.”

The long-limbed beauty delivered an elegant program on Friday which was highlighted by her graceful presence and gorgeous flow on the ice. Her opening double Axel was stellar, however, she then fell on the triple Lutz — which lacked enough height to land the jump. Her next jump a triple toe was well-done. She skated with passion and delivered two level four spins and a gorgeous level four spiral step sequence that seemed to meld with the music.

“I don’t think I’m any worse than before,” she added. “I’m doing the same jumps and everything is going as well as before. What I had to work on is my head and my confidence and that’s what I worked on before coming to Nationals.”

Phaneuf received the best birthday gift she could ask for when she captured the top spot with 55.16 points and was serenaded with a verse of Happy Birthday from the audience.

“Even I know my goal is not to win the gold medal,” Phaneuf told the press. “My goal is just to make the World Team, I don’t have to put a lot of pressure on myself. I want to have fun on the ice on Saturday, just like I did today.”

Rochette, who was the odds on favorite to capture her fifth National title seemed to crumble under the pressure and ended the short program behind the 2004 Canadian Champion.

Rochette, singled a planned double Axel as she opened her program to the music “Summertime” from the Album – The Fidler of the Opera. The twenty-three-year-old quickly recovered to nail a triple flip/triple toe combination. However, on closer review by the technical panel the second jump was downgraded and negative GOE’s were awarded. The Four Continents silver medalists then fell on her triple Lutz after the jump had a strong lean in the air.

The Skate Canada and Trophee Bompard Champion managed only level three spins and spiral step sequence instead of the usual level four. While Phaneuf edged Rochette on the technical score, Rochette captured the highest component score. The college student from Ile-Dupas, Quebec pocketed a short program score of 53.58 points.

Joannie readily admits the short program has been a struggle for her all season and her worst performance came at the Grand Prix Final in Korea where she doubled all her jumps. She finished the short program there in last place. In comparison with that performance today’s was a step up for the Canadian.

“It means a lot to me to regain my title,” said the four-time champion. “I’m confident for my long program tomorrow, and I have seven triple jumps planned, but I’m still mad at myself for today.”

2005 Junior Champion Amelie Lacoste smashed threw her seasons best score and sits 0.3 points behind Rochette. The twenty-year-old from Delson, Quebec, skated early in the line-up and produced a powerful program skated to the music “Otonal” by Raul Di Blassio. Her opening double Axel was splendid and had great attack and a beautiful running edge on the landing. She followed with a high triple loop/double loop combination before putting a hand down on the triple flip. Her non-jumping elements were also strong with two level four spins and a level four spiral step sequence. She racked up seasons best score of 53.55 points.

2006 Junior Champion, Diane Szmiett did herself proud earning herself a respectable fourth place in her “Once Upon a December” short program. The eighteen-year-old from Watford, Ontario executed a triple flip/double toe combination, triple Lutz and a double Axel. She gathered 51.99 points and enters the free skate in fourth place.

Skating in her first Canadian National Championship Adriana DeSanctis made an impression when she completed her short program with 49.88 points — which placed her in fifth. The twenty-year-old who previously competed for the United States made the switch up north and now skates for Canada. Her “Just for you” short program opened with a hand down on the triple Lutz but then the teen regrouped landing a solid triple Salchow/double toe combination and a strong double Axel. She managed level four on the change foot combination spin but received level three on her other non-jumping elements.

The audience appeared shocked when the scores for three-time silver medalist Mira Leung came up on the scoreboard. Her new short program skated to “Transylvanian Lullaby” seemed lackluster, and she suffered from a downgrade on her double Axel as well. Her spiral step sequence was called level one by the technical panel and her straight line steps level two. She enters the free skate in sixth place with a segment score of 48.76 points.

The ladies event concludes tomorrow morning with the completion of the ladies free skate.

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