Torino 2010 – day one:
Canadians and Chinese in the lead

By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © Daylife

How hard is it to stay motivated after a big victory? How important are the compulsories and how is Worlds different from the Olympics? These are a few of the questions that were answered on the first day of the 100th World Figure Skating Championships in Torino.

Olympic spirit in a ghost city
It looks a bit frightening. Empty spaces, abandoned shops, some old posters on the walls – Passion lives here. The ruins of the previous Olympic Games seem so ancient, surreal and sad in the middle of the city. Torino looks the same as it did five years ago in 2005 during the Europeans. At that time everything was under construction, now many things seem to be under destruction. But the participants of the centennial World Figure Skating Championships claim the Olympic spirit is still present in the Palavela stadium.
It’s exciting to be here after having been in Vancouver. This is the arena where the 2006 Olympic Games took place and here we found the same atmosphere we encountered in Canada last month”, Georgian ice dancer Otar Japaridze said. Home competitor Luca Lanotte was also amazed by the home crowd:
I was excited to compete here in Italy and I must confess that when I went out and I heard the roar of the public that welcomed us I felt really excited. I have to say that also in Vancouver people were very kind and warm, but the crowd in Torino is fantastic!
Jana Khokhlova of Russia agreed:
This arena still keeps a special Olympic spirit, and as we have very nice memories from our first Olympic Games, it was pleasant to skate here.”
However, not everyone was so enthusiastic about the Palavela.
Compared to the stadium in Vancouver, Palavela is just a tiny rink. I enjoyed the Vancouver Olympics much more than the Torino Games. Maybe it was because in Vancouver I spent the whole three weeks, I attended the opening ceremony and had a great time in the city. I had the time of my life in Vancouver”, Nora Hoffmann of Hungary said, obviously still overwhelmed by the positive energy of the Games.

Do we need the compulsory dances?
The compulsory dances had some nostalgic feeling for many skaters, because this Golden Waltz might have been the very last compulsory dance in the history of the figure skating Worlds. The International Skating Union plans to cancel them, because they are too expensive and not so attractive for the TV viewers. Listening to the same tunes almost thirty times can be annoying, but many skaters think the compulsories are essential to compare the skating skills.
It’s a shame. But in the need of television it is maybe the best. I just hope that ice dance won’t lose its foundation”, John Kerr commented on the possible cancellation of the compulsories. His sister Sinead (who is, by the way, the oldest competitor in Torino) added: “I would say that Ice dance competitions are approaching becoming more like a Pairs’ competition. Maybe even if there is not much audience, compulsories is a grounding of Ice dance. Ice dance will lose something, but it is how sport is developing, more towards the athletic way.

Champions still motivated
After the first portion of the Ice dancing event the Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are in the lead. The Canadians earned 44,13 points for their Golden Waltz. Less than a month after winning the most important competition in the world the couple doesn’t find it hard to motivate themselves.
It’s not hard. We’ve never gotten a World’s title, so it’s something we’ve been planning on. We’ve expected it to be a huge crash after the Olympics, but we’ve done two weeks of great training after that and it’s not hard to stay motivated when you’re training with Meryl and Charlie”, Virtue explained.
Meryl and Charlie, that is Davis and White from the USA, are currently in second place with a score of 43,25 points. They got the silver in Vancouver and they admitted it wasn’t easy to get ready for another big event in such a short time.
With all the excitement from the previous competition it’s been a little bit more challenging to focus on Worlds. But we’ve known we’re coming to Worlds all season, so we are prepared for this”, Meryl Davis said.
Third place belongs to home favorites Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali. Competing in front of a home crowd they earned a new season’s best (40,85) for their compulsory dance. “The public helps you a lot in this situation. It supports you, and makes you feel better and more confident. We danced very well today, now we have to keep our concentration and stay relaxed at the same time”, Faiella revealed their strategy.

Annoying mistake, annoying levels
In the Pairs short program, defending champions and Olympic bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy wanted to cheer themselves up after their Vancouver disappointment. They could however not deliver a flawless program and are currently only in third place with 69,52 points.
I realized right away that he did only a double toe. Sometimes I feel he did a double when he did a triple but this time I saw that he popped the jump. I thought ‘great’, but I knew that we had to go on and complete the remaining elements as well as we can”, Aljona Savchenko told the press. Her partner added:
I made a mistake and now it’s hard to find something positive about our performance. I did a double toe instead of a triple toe and I’m so disappointed. I felt strong, I didn’t have shaky legs. I don’t know why it happened.
Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov were also clueless after they performance. They made no mistakes and couldn’t figure out why they got the score they did. The audience booed, because they would have place the flawless Russians ahead of the German pair.
The judges graded two of our elements as level two, so that’s probably why. They are pushing the first pair and holding back the second pair”, Mukhortova said.
Trankov shared her feelings: “You do the same elements and get different levels [at different competitions]. We’ve gotten tired of analyzing and changing things every time.

Pang and Tong satisfied

The Chinese couple Pang/Tong is in the lead. They performed a flawless routine to Bizet’s “The Pearlfishers” and earned 75,28 points for it.
We are very happy to have achieved a new season’s best score. We skated better than at the Olympic Games. At the Olympic Games everybody felt a little nervous, we were more confident here. All the elements felt a little better”, Tong explained.
The reigning European champions, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov of Russia, are in second place with 73,12 points.
It has been difficult to be here after the Olympic Games, but we were happy to come to Turin for the World Championships. We are very satisfied with our performance tonight and we work hard to achieve the best result. I really enjoyed skating for this audience”, Yuko told the press with a smile.

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