Not at best, Meissner still qualifies

2 falls land her in 10th

short program today

March 01, 2005|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

KITCHENER, Ontario - Fame comes at a price. For Kimmie Meissner, the bill arrived yesterday in the qualifying round of the World Junior Figure Skating Championships.

Meissner did not look like the skater who won the bronze medal at the U.S. championships in January. She fell twice and failed to complete one jump, but still managed to finish 10th out of 43 skaters, with a score of 81.94. She will skate her short program today and her free skate Thursday.

"It wasn't my best," said the 15-year-old from Bel Air, trying to make light of her performance. "I'm saving it for the final."

FOR THE RECORD - In Monday's editions, an article on the World Junior Figure Skating Championships incorrectly listed Todd Eldredge and Yuka Sato as Olympic medal-winners.
The Sun regrets the errors.

Luckily for Meissner, the junior world silver medalist last year, scores from the qualifier are used to seed the skaters for the short program and do not count toward the score.

Mao Asada of Japan stole the show with a graceful performance that also earned the highest technical score of the day. The 14-year-old finished with a total score of 112.32. Another 14-year-old skater, Kim Yu-na from Korea, scored 102.98 points to finish second.

To the delight of the audience, Meissner and Asada traded triple axel attempts during warm-ups. Asada, who completed a triple axel at the Junior Grand Prix Final in December, landed two but fell hard on another and stayed on the ice for several anxious moments. Meissner, who at nationals became the first American woman to land a triple axel in 14 years, completed one and fell on two.

With the stage set, Asada went first. In the first 10 seconds of her program, Asada appeared to land a triple axel. But the judges reviewing a frame-by-frame replay determined she did not complete 3 1/2 rotations before touching down.

Still, she dominated the field during her 3 1/2 -minute program, with crisp combination jumps, extension on her spirals and tight spins.

Two skaters later, Meissner tried to respond with two triple lutzes and a triple axel, but failed at all three.

"I popped the [triple] lutz. I think I just rushed and slipped on my toe. The second lutz was the same thing. I was rushing, and it wasn't working," she said.

Meissner's coach, Pam Gregory, said the publicity after the U.S. championships disrupted the skater's training at the University of Delaware rink.

"It was hard to get her back on a normal schedule. I think I had one week in between the nationals and this where she was there," Gregory said. "This was a weak performance for Kimmie. But last year, in my opinion, she gave a winning performance in the initial round and didn't have it for the final. This year, hopefully, she's saving it."

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