Meissner has rough start in Finland final

Problems with triple lutz leave her seventh of nine

Figure Skating

December 04, 2004|By Sal Zanca | Sal Zanca,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

HELSINKI, Finland - Some days you have it and some days you don't.

Timing, that is, which is especially important in figure skating, which Kimmie Meissner rediscoverd yesterday in the women's division of the Junior Grand Prix Finals.

After the short program, in which she has usually done well this season, she found herself in seventh place out of nine skaters.

Last year's world junior silver medalist had been expected to be in medal contention after the program.

The triple lutz did her in. She had trouble with it in her two days of practice here, and things got no better in competition.

Either she went up and had to bail out, doing a single, or, if she completed the rotation, she fell.

As the opening jump of her combination, it is an important element in the new International Skating Union scoring system.

After missing the jump five times in her warm-ups, she had to immediately go out and, to little surprise, barely managed one turn and no combination on her first attempt.

Her confidence shaken, she had a fault on the double axel and a slight wobble on the solo triple loop, two jumps she has performed well in practice here.

She scored just 42.71 points, far worse than the 54.30 she had earlier in the season in the short program in Courcheval, France, where she placed second.

"The timing has been off this competition," said her coach, Pam Gregory.

Meissner put it more bluntly. "I do little things [wrong] like screw up those landings," the 15-year-old from Bel Air said.

She is determined to do better today in the free skate.

"I have really nothing to lose," she said.

Meissner has done the triple lutz well over the past two seasons and was even putting double toe loops in combinations.

And the double axel mistake was a surprise as she has been flirting with triple axels this season, although a back injury has forced her to cut back on them.

Still, she looks to move up from her poor short program in the free skate, performing to Daphnis and Chloe by Ravel.

Mao Asada of Japan leads with a total of 57.91 points. Kim Yu-na of South Korea is second with 51.27 points and Akiko Kitamura of Japan is third with 46.10, within striking distance of Meissner. Danielle Kahle of the United States - whom Meissner has defeated regularly over the past two years - is fifth with 45.44 points.

In other events, Morgan Matthews of Fairfax, Va., and Maxim Zavozin of Ashburn, Va., are in the lead after two segments of the ice dance competition.

Yasuharu Nanri of Japan is leading the men's individual competition, and Russians Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov are in first place in the pairs.

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