Figure skating glance

February 17, 1998|By Bill Glauber

Short program

The 2-minute, 40-second short program -- to be held tomorrow -- counts for 33.3 percent of a skater's total score for the competition. It consists of eight required moves. The judges award two marks. One for required elements. The second for presentation.

The required elements are:

1. Double axel

2. Double jump or triple jump

3. Jump combination (two jumps without a step in between) double jump and a triple jump or two triple jumps

4. Flying spin

5. Layback or sideways leaning spin

6. Spin combination with only one change of foot and at least two changes of position

7. One spiral step sequence

8. One step sequence of a different nature

Free skate

The four-minute free skate -- to be held Friday -- is worth 66.7 percent of the overall score. A well-balanced program consists of at least four spins, one step sequence and one set of spirals or other free skating moves that fully utilize the ice surface. Skaters also should have at least one jump combination or sequence of jumps, while only two triple jumps should be repeated. The judges award two marks, for technical merit and for presentation.

(Information courtesy of U.S. Figure Skating Association)

The contenders

United States

Nicole Bobek, 20: Winner of 1995 U.S. title, Bobek struggled through the 1997 world championships and finished 13th after the sudden death of her coach, Carlo Fassi. Third last month at the U.S. championships, she is a lyrical performer whose career has been hounded by inconsistency and a merry-go-round of coaches.

Michelle Kwan, 17: The 1996 and 1998 American champion, Kwan also won the world title in 1996. She suffered a stress fracture to the second toe of her left foot earlier this season, but has appeared sharp and fit in recent performances and practices.

Tara Lipinski, 15: In 1997, Lipinski became the youngest-ever American and world champion. She struggled earlier this year to land her triple lutz jump. But she won the Champions Series final in Munich in December.

China

Chen Lu, 21: The reigning Olympic bronze medalist and 1995 world champion, Chen had a horrible 1997 season, injuring a foot that hampered her ability to train.

France

Surya Bonaly, 24: Five-time European champion and three-time world silver medalist, Bonaly has been trying to recover from an Achilles' tendon injury that kept her out of most of 1997. A gifted jumper, she has never impressed the judges with her artistry.

Vanessa Gusmeroli, 19: The 1997 world championship bronze medalist, Gusmeroli is also a champion water skier. She has slumped badly this season, finishing 11th at the European championships.

Laetitia Hubert, 23: A quick, powerful skater who may be the highest jumper in the competition, Hubert has received help from sports psychologists to cope with pressure and beat Lipinski in Trophee Lalique in November.

Russia

Maria Butyrskaya, 25: Svelte, sizzling and sensual, Butyrskaya considers herself the lone mature woman in this competition. She is a five-time Russian champion and the reigning European titlist.

Irina Slutskaya, 19: Slutskaya became the first Russian woman to win the European championships (1996-1997). She also became the first woman to perform a triple salchow-triple loop combination.

Pub Date: 2/17/98

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