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Silver and bronze for U.S. ladies in Paris

Fourth-place American pairs team makes skating history

The ladies podium from left to right: silver medalist Kimmie Meissner of the U.S., gold medalist Mao Asada of Japan and bronze medalist Ashley Wagner of the U.S.
The ladies podium from left to right: silver medalist Kimmie Meissner of the U.S., gold medalist Mao Asada of Japan and bronze medalist Ashley Wagner of the U.S. (Getty Images)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(11/17/2007) - The two U.S. ladies at the Trophee Eric Bompard got two medals, but it was Mao Asada who won the competition. The skater from Japan trains in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., as long as she does not have to leave the rink and her home because of the risk of fire. But in the last two weeks, this was no longer a problem. At the beginning of the long program she showed a lot of courage by trying the triple Axel for the first time in competition this season, but she fell and it was downgraded. Asada recovered quickly, though, and did five other triples, including a triple flip-triple toe loop combination, but her Lutz was jumped off from the wrong edge. Her spins and steps were excellent, and so was her flowing skating and jumping style. Everything looked easy, which is always a good sign.

"A fall on the triple Axel may happen, but I was happy that the combination of triple flip and triple loop did work this time," Asada said. "But I have no triple Salchow and toe loop in the program, because they are not good enough at the moment to be included in the program."

2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner from the United States won silver mainly because of her high program components, although she skated only the third-best free program. Her triple Lutz was clean, but in her combination the flip was jumped from the wrong edge and the toe loop was downgraded. She later struggled on her Salchow, fell on the loop and singled the Lutz. She made up most of her points with excellent spins and steps. Her presentation was also outstanding.

"It was not my best today, but I am happy overall. Nevertheless I learned that I can perform a lot better."

Meissner had only .11 points more than teammate Ashley Wagner. Wagner is in her first senior year and was third at the 2007 World Junior Championships. She performed six triples. The two Lutzes, however, were jumped from the wrong edge. Later she said, "As I am in my first senior year, I did not focus on the other skaters, but just worked to show that I deserve to be here. The triple Axel is not my main goal now, but I will concentrate on performance."

Vise and Trent make history with Quadruple Throw Salchow

The pairs competition had a high level with six really good free programs. The winners were Dan and Hao Zhang of China, who are not related to each other despite their common last name. Their two triple throws and the triple twist were excellent, as were the difficult lifts and side-by-side jumps (triple Salchow and combination of double Axel and triple toe loop). They made no mistakes at all.

"It was a really good performance today, but not all levels on steps and spins were as high as hoped, because we had no time to show all features. But we will work on it."

Second were their teammates from China, Qing Pang and Jian Tong, who had a better presentation than the winners, but some less-perfect elements.

The bronze medal went to Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov from St. Petersburg, Russia, who missed their side-by-side triple Salchow (she fell), but had good speed and excellent throws.

A special highlight in the free program of Americans Tiffany Vise and Derek Trent was their quadruple throw Salchow -- the first successful one ever in an ISU competition. Vise and Trent were third in the free program, but fourth overall and improved their personal best by about 15 points.

Trent commented afterwards, "In practice, 75 percent of our quad throws do work. So we tried it, and we are proud to have accomplished it. Our next goal is to win nationals and make the world team."