Cohen, Plushenko Falter in Finals

From Wire Reports

It was a bad night for heavy favorites Sasha Cohen and Evgeni Plushenko in the Grand Prix figure skating finals at Colorado Springs, Colo.

At least Plushenko had some understandable complaints about how he lost to Emanuel Sandhu of Canada on Saturday night. All Cohen really could do was shrug after a desultory, emotionless performance with two falls that was easily topped by Japan’s Fumie Suguri.

“I need a little bit of a break,” Cohen said after her first defeat in the Grand Prix series in two years. She won two events and the overall title last year, then took three competitions in 2003.

But she was no match for Suguri, the two-time world bronze medalist who won the first medal ever for her country in the Grand Prix finals.


“I think it starts to show when you start to compete for such a long time,” Cohen admitted of her busy schedule.

The new scoring system had its first truly controversial result after world champion Plushenko was upset by Sandhu.

Plushenko jumped himself to the brink of exhaustion in the free skate, but received no credit for a third combination jump early in his program.

When he cut a triple axel to a double and skipped a triple salchow, his technical marks dropped so low he fell to second place.


“I am surprised I am second,” said Plushenko, whose quadruple toe loop-double loop was the first combination of its kind in competition. “The new system for me is good usually.”

Although Plushenko, the 2002 Olympic silver medalist, hit two huge quads in combination, the seven judges whose marks counted on the panel of 11 penalized him enough for his miscues that he lost by 3.11 points -- although he had a 3.40 edge in presentation in what was anything but a weak performance.

Beating the Olympic silver medalist was the biggest win of Sandhu’s career -- by far.

“All I know is that I put down a world-class performance and that’s all that matters,” Sandhu said.


Usually on the fringes of contention, he originally didn’t qualify for this event.

Sandhu, a late replacement for American Tim Goebel, who withdrew with equipment problems, used complex spins, a quad and five triples, plus some sensational footwork, to pull off the upset.

Three-time American champion Michael Weiss, still battling the effects of flu, was a distant third.

Suguri outskated Cohen, winning both the short program and the free skate with relative ease. While Suguri flowed through her routine Saturday night, Cohen fell on a triple flip and after a triple toe loop that usually is automatic for her.


Winter Sports

Denise Karbon of Italy won her first World Cup Alpine skiing event, rallying from fifth place after the first run of a giant slalom to beat Austrians Nicole Hosp and Elisabeth Goergl at Alta Badia, Italy.

Karbon, in her fourth World Cup season, had the fastest second run down the steep Gran Risa course, ending with a combined time of 2 minutes 14.69 seconds. Hosp was 0.03 seconds behind.

Goergl led after the first run but skied cautiously in the second. She finished 0.37 seconds behind Karbon and 0.01 seconds ahead of World Cup leader Anja Paerson of Sweden, who leads the standings with 330 points.



Ronny Ackermann’s World Cup Nordic combined winning streak ended at four when he finished fourth at Val di Fiemme, Italy, in an event won by Hannu Manninen of Finland.

Manninen was fourth in the 10-kilometer cross-country ski race and fifth in the ski jumping portion, totaling 244.5 points. He was followed by Austrians Felix Gottwald (241.7) and Michael Gruber (239.5).

Ackermann, who had 237.7 points, leads the overall standings with 450 points. Manninen is in second place with 360.


Reinhold Rainer of Italy won his first World Cup luge race at the Utah Olympic Park track in Park City, ending a 10-year victory drought. He sped through 17 curves in a two-run time of 1 minute 32.345 seconds. Denis Geppert of Germany was second in 1:32.393.


Peter Senior won his first tour title since the 1997 Canon Challenge in Sydney, closing with a one-over-par 73 for a one-stroke victory today in the Australian PGA at Coolum.

Senior, who had a five-stroke lead after both the second and third rounds, finished with a 17-under 271.


Rod Pampling shot a 69 to finish second. Rod Parry was another stroke back after a shooting a 70.

Americans Chip Beck and Ryan Palmer were the only non-Australians in the top 15. Beck had a 68 and Palmer a 75 for a seven-under 281.