Kwan Appears to Have It to Herself
She didn’t win the Olympic gold medal this year. The rematch with Tara Lipinski won’t happen this week. So things aren’t exactly going the way Michelle Kwan expected.
But there’s ice, she’s got her skates and the World Figure Skating Championships are still on. At this point, that’s all that matters.
“With the top skaters out, some people can look at it and say, ‘What’s the World Championships about?’ But not to me,” Kwan said. “I have to skate for myself. When I compete, it’s only for me.”
If Kwan’s only worry is pleasing herself, she wasn’t fretting after Monday’s qualifying round. The Olympic silver medalist and two-time U.S. champion won her qualifying group, getting 5.7s and 5.8s for technical merit and all 5.9s for artistry.
Irina Slutskaya and Yelena Sokolova, both of Russia, finished second and third, respectively. Tonia Kwiatkowski, who was chosen to the U.S. world team after Lipinski withdrew because of a viral infection, was fourth.
Maria Butyrskaya of Russia, fourth at Nagano, won the second qualifying group. Anna Rechnio of Poland was second and Yelena Liashenko of Ukraine was third. The top 15 in each group advance to Friday’s short program.
With Lipinski out, Kwan is favored to win her second world title. She won’t look back and wonder what might have happened had Lipinski been here.
“As a competitor I like to have all the skaters here and see who’s the best that night,” she said. “Now it’s just skating and me. It all boils down to how you skate, how you feel out there and going out there and showing you can do it.”
Two-time U.S. pairs champions Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen withdrew from the World Figure Skating Championships after a Dungjen broke a bone in his forehead in a freak accident.
During a practice session Sunday night, Dungjen was struck in the forehead by Ina’s arm while practicing a triple twist in which he pitches her a few feet above his head. The impact fractured a bone above his right eye.
Dungjen was taken to a Minneapolis hospital, treated and released. But after a brief workout Monday, the couple withdrew.
Ina and Dungjen placed fourth at the Nagano Olympics and the third-place duo, Mandy Wotzel and Ingo Steuer of Germany, are not at the world championships.
Shelby Lyons and Brian Wells, second at the U.S. championships, will join Jenni Meno and Todd Sand as U.S. representatives in pairs this week. Meno and Sand withdrew from nationals in January after she hurt her ankle.