Her first world figure skating championship, Shizuka Arakawa of Japan. The 22-year-old opened her long program in Dortmund, Germany, with an eye-popping triple lutz—triple toe-double loop combination and never looked back. She beat the U.S. pair of Sasha Cohen, who led heading into the free skate, and Michelle Kwan, who came up short in her quest for a sixth title. Arakawa failed to make the Japanese team from 1999 through 2002, and she finished just eighth in the worlds last year. But earlier this month she began training in Simsbury, Conn., with Tatiana Tarasova, Cohen's former coach, and last week the athletic Arakawa's potential—she landed her first triple in elementary school—was realized. Her triple-triple, a combination neither Cohen nor Kwan attempted, earned her a rare 6.0 for technical merit from one judge.
Then again, Dortmund saw a spring shower of perfect 6.0s. The judges were feeling munificent, perhaps even a bit nostalgic about the old 6.0 system, which will be voted into oblivion in June at the next meeting of the ISU congress. An astonishing 43 perfect marks were given out in the men's, ladies', pairs and ice dance, as judges, cloaked in anonymity, overmarked their favorites to their hearts' content. Perfection never looked so commonplace as when Russia's Evgeny Plushenko, who won his third world title, received four 6.0s for presentation despite taking a hard fall. The 19-year-old Cohen was awarded four perfect marks for presentation while winning the ladies' short program. Kwan received six 6.0s in her long program, but she was penalized a tenth of a point on each judge's card for exceeding the maximum time limit in the short. It remains to be seen whether the scoring system to be used at future world and Olympic competitions will be an improvement. As for the old 6.0 system, a cold warrior that was finally ushered off the world stage at a competition that was otherwise marked by the spectacular arrival of a new talent, let these two words serve as epitaph: good riddance.