Thursday, 21/6/2018 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Lambiel Obliterates Competition at Olympic Qualifier

There was fire in his eyes and passion in his soul as the reigning Olympic silver medalist Stephane Lambiel took to the ice last week in Oberstdorf — obliterating his competiton by over 23 points.

The two- time World Champion shocked the figure skating World last season when he announced that he was retiring from amateur figure skating — one year prior to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Struggling with multiple injuries to his knees, adductor muscle and his back Lambiel felt his body could no longer sustain the demands of Olympic level skating.

Skating in shows around the World Lambiel was a crowd favorite. His stunning artistry and eye-catching spins made his performances memorable. However, something was missing for Lambiel. With his pain at a manageable level, the Swiss reconsidered his retirement and declared he would make a run for a third run at the Olympic Games.

“I can’t say I don’t have pain when I skate,” Lambiel told the press. “I was touring in Canada last April and I met a physiotherapist who taught me how to manage the pain. She helped me a lot during the summer, and I did a lot of physical preparation. Now I can deal with the pain. I think every sportsman is in a situation when they are in pain and you just have to bare it.”

Since Switzerland failed to qualify an Olympic berth at the World Championships last March, Lambiel’s first challenge was to qualify a spot at the final Olympic qualifier – the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf, Germany.

The 24 year-old with the Prince Charming smile showed up with his game face on and in front of the media his face just glowed.

Lambiel had a shaky start to his “William Tell” short program falling on his quad toe/triple toe combination after doubling a planned triple Axel. Things turned around with the triple flip and the excitement began to build. He charged down the ice on his straight-line steps. The twists and turns got faster and more intense, as if he was being propelled by the enthusiasm of the crowd. His final element a change foot combination spin was so outstanding he received straight +3 GOE’s (Grades of Execution) from the judging panel.

“I was very nervous, but then again every time I go on the ice I am nervous,” he said with a smile. “There are no tricks. You have to fight, you have no time to ask yourself how you will survive. You have only four minutes to show everything you practiced so hard. I love it and I am happy to be here.,” he added.

Lambiel was rewarded with a segment score of 77.45 points.

However, the 2008 European silver medalist was only getting his feet wet during the short program. It was really in the free skate where Lambiel separated himself from the pack.

Skating to “Otono Porteno” by Astor Piazzola the Swiss treated the audience to a performance which melted your heart. It was so outstanding his free skate score eclipsed his closest challenger by a whopping 15+ points.

Like in the short program Lambiel opened with a double Axel. However, this time he followed it with a strong quad toe/double toe/double toe combination, and then by a triple flip/triple toe combination. His triple loop received high grades of execution as did his final double Axel. His only error came when he singled a planned triple Lutz. Once again, his footwork and spins were amazing. The crowd was on its feet knowing full well they had witnessed something special.

Lambiel earned 154.91 points for his free skate and finished the competition in first place with a total score of 232.36 points.

Ivan Tretiakov of Russia who was virtually unknown entering this competition rose to the occasion to claim the silver medal with an event total of 206.23 points.

He placed fifth in his short program with 67.05 points despite receiving the second highest technical score of the competition. He opened with a triple Axel and followed with a triple flip/triple toe combination and a solo triple Lutz. His change foot sit spin and change foot combination spin were both awarded level four by the technical panel.

His free skate set to the soundtrack from the movie “Charade” featured seven triple jumps along with a quad Salchow which had a shaky landing. His technical score which was the highest of the event eclipsed Lambiel’s by almost 2.5 points. His component score of 65.10 paled in comparison to Lambiel’s 83.30 points.

When asked about the Olympics he replied: “Well, everyone knows that Plushenko is back, so being the leader in my country is not relevant,” Tretiakov stated. “I hope this result will help me climb up a bit in my country, I worked hard towards this competition and I hope to climb as high as I can.”

2008 Junior World silver medalist Michal Brezina slipped one spot to pick up his third Nebelhorn Trophy medal – a bronze with 205.34 points. The Czech joked with the press about having a full set of medals after picking up gold in 2007 and silver in 2008.

Brezina produced an entertaining short program to the music “ Puttin on the Ritz” which included a triple Axel, a triple Lutz and a strong triple flip/triple toe combination. His strongest elements were his circular and straight-line footwork — which had a light dancey quality.

In his free skate to “An American In Paris” by George Gershwin, Brezina singled two jumps and under-rotated a triple Lutz dropping him from second to third place. Despite the mistakes, he executed five strong triple jumps and gathered a segment score of 132.11 points.

“Every time (I skate) I am trying to be as good as Tommy (countrymen Tomas Verner), I am trying to get to his level,” Brezina confessed. “Maybe one day I will be better, but I still have to wait because he is the first one. I am practicing hard, and maybe one day after the Olympics I can beat him.”

American Ryan Bradley dropped from third to fourth place overall after a sixth place free skate worth 127.50 points. Bradley performed a cutesy program to “Amadeus” which endeared the skater to the audience. The American pewter medalist stumbled out of his opening quad toeloop, fell on a triple flip and managed only level one on his circular step sequence. He did complete six other triple jumps.

“Well, of course I am disappointed, but I will take what I learned from this competition and use it to get ready for my next event – Trophee Bompard,” Bradley said.

Victor Pfeifer qualified an Olympic spot for Austria and claimed fifth place with 195.68 points. Stefan Lindermann also captured an Olympic berth for Germany placing eighth.

The last three spots currently available went to People’s Republic of Korea, Romania, and Finland.

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