A Turmoil of Emotions, An "Unbeatable" Short Program for Goebelby Amy Partain
photo by Paul Harvath
(1/13/05) — The men's short program Thursday at the State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships was emotional for Timothy Goebel, but it didn't have anything to do with the event. Goebel is a close friend of Angela Nikodinov, whose mother died in a car accident Wednesday in Portland. Goebel, who is in first place, broke down in tears at center ice when he finished his short program, obviously grieving for his friend.
“The last 24 hours have been very difficult for a lot of us,” he said. “But this is out of my control. I'm here to do a job. I have a World Team to make and demons to conquer after last year.”
Goebel said skating was the easy part of Thursday after waking up at 2 a.m. and not being able to go back to sleep. He said he's been through stressful situations before but what he's experiencing now “blows everything else out of the water.”
“In the short program it is easy to focus because each element counts,” Goebel said. “You go through the checklist of elements and in between concentrate on the lines and expressions.”
As Goebel went through his short program to Rachmaninov's “Concerto Elegiaque for Piano in D Minor” he completed a quad toe-double toe combination, a triple Axel and footwork into a triple flip. His spins were nicely positioned and his footwork was solid.
Goebel spoke to Nikodinov after practice on Thursday and plans to go to Los Angeles after the event to be with her. Goebel was with Nikodinov in Germany when she learned of her coach Elena Tcherkasskaia's death in 2001.
“We share a special bond and I care about her very deeply,” Goebel said. “But she's going to be OK. She'll be able to get through this. She's been through tough times before.”
Goebel said he has been excited about competing at the U.S. Championships now that he is 100 percent healthy. He believes he'll be ready for Saturday's free skate since he won't be as emotionally drained at that point.
Weir Fights Through Short Program
The night was also emotional for Johnny Weir, who is in second. He, too, has become close to Nikodinov in the last few years. But he said he is proud that he fought through the program and completed all of his elements.
Skating to “Rondo Capriccisoso,” Weir landed a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe and steps into the triple flip, but his landings weren't as solid as they normally are. His artistry and spins, which are trademarks of Weir's skating, were well executed, as well.
“It was a struggle,” Weir said. “I saw Tim skate because I was waiting for the warm up and I don't think I've ever seen him skate that well. He skated with his whole heart. Today I think Tim was unbeatable.”
Lysacek's First 6.0
Evan Lysacek, who is in third, was the third senior man to take the ice. He set the tone for the competitive level with a near perfect program and was awarded a 6.0 for his efforts. It was the first 6.0 of his career.
“I'm so stoked!” Lysacek said. “That's my first one in my career and I'm glad I was able to get one before they do away with the good old 6.0.”
He was secure in his jumps, including a triple Axel, triple Lutz-triple toe and a triple flip from footwork in his “Espana Cani” program. His spins were fast and his footwork intricate.
“I really felt nervous before the competition because I was so ready,” Lysacek said. “I've been training three to four clean shorts a day. All I was thinking was just go out and relax. I knew after the flip that I could sell the footwork and the spin at the end.”
At Smart Ones Skate America in October, Lysacek talked about a hip stress fracture that has affected his training. He said right now he is pain free and the inflammation is down significantly.
Matt Savoie had a beautifully lyrical short program that included a triple Axel, triple flip-triple toe and footwork into a triple Lutz. He's in fourth place. Michael Weiss fell on his quad toe attempt and is in fifth.
Now the men have a day to prepare for the free skate. Both Goebel and Weir feel they will be ready to compete full force on Saturday.
“Saturday I'll be more collected,” Goebel said. “Right now I'm emotionally drained.”