Throwing caution to the windPosted: Friday February 22, 2002 2:47 AM
Mark A. Lund is the publisher of International Figure Skating and is currently covering the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. To read more about the sport of figure skating, please check out http://www.ifsmagazine.com.
Question: How big of an upset did we witness tonight?
Lund: It was certainly substantial, but not unbelievable. Sarah Hughes, after all, is the reigning world bronze medalist. She beat both Irina Slutskaya and Michelle Kwan at Skate Canada last November. And hey, Time magazine put her on the cover.
Question: What made Sarah Hughes' performance special?
Lund: She threw caution to the wind. She skated as if she had nothing to lose. And she didn't. She was fourth entering the long program. In all likelihood, she was aiming for a bronze medal. People talk about having that great performance at the Olympic Games, but few do. Instead they skate scared. Sarah was fearless.
Question: Do you think her spot in the skating order worked to her advantage?
Lund: Based on what her coach, Robin Wagner, told us, it did. She said skating second gave Sarah the opportunity to skate full out on the warm-up, catch her breath backstage and then go out and skate. Any later in the group and she might have lost her momentum.
Question: What happened to Michelle Kwan?
Lund: The pressure just seemed to get the better of her. It wasn't so much holding back. It looked like she couldn't shake off the nerves. The big moves weren't there. At the last two World Championships, when the pressure was on, she delivered the triple/triple combination and showed her best skating. But tonight, it just wasn't to be.
Question: Why do you think Irina Slutskaya couldn't capitalize on her golden opportunity?
Lund: She held back too much. She tried to play it safe, and it did her in. Before she went out, her coach said something to her about not doing her triple/triple/double combination. Maybe she should have skated like she had no idea what anyone else's marks were. Instead, she tried to be cautious. But there were mistakes anyway.
Question: Should Sasha Cohen have tried the quad?
Lund: She looked very nervous. She probably wouldn't have landed it. She definitely made a great impression on the judges and the audience. She's set herself up to be a fierce competitor during the next four years.
Question: Were there any other performances that caught your attention?
Lund: Fumie Suguri of Japan was lovely. What a lyrical skater. And Jennifer Robinson of Canada absolutely performed a personal best.
Question: What impact will Sarah Hughes' victory have on the skating world?
Lund: She has forever upped the technical ante. She's the first women's Olympic champion to land two triple/triple combinations. But mostly she showed the best course of action is to not hold back. Skate with freedom and with heart. She provided an amazing crescendo to the skating competitions in Salt Lake City.