Sat, Nov 29, 2003 - Page 18 News List

Liashenko falls but earns lead

SKATING The Ukranian skater fell on a triple flip, while Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov impressed the judges and the crowd to take the doubles crown

AP , ASAHIKAWA, JAPAN

Elena Liashenko of Ukraine performs her short program during the NHK Trophy International Figure Skating Competition in Asahikawa, northern Japan, yesterday.

PHOTO: AP

Elena Liashenko of Ukraine recovered from an early mistake to take the lead in the women's short program at the NHK Trophy yesterday.

In the pairs event, former world champions Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov turned in a near-flawless performance to win.

Japanese skaters Fumie Suguri and Yoshie Onda came second and third with American Jennifer Kirk, looking for a spot in the Grand Prix Final, fifth but still in contention.

Petrova and Tikhonov, who led after Thursday's short program, made few mistakes in their free skating at Taisetsu Arena and earned 181.96 points.

The Russian couple, world champions in 2000, did all the difficult moves with only a slight error on a triple salchow marring their presentation to The Circus Princess.

"We're very happy to be on the podium," said Tikhonov. "We skated well considering Maria had food poisoning yesterday and all we missed was the triple salchow but everything else went well."

Canadians Anabelle Langlois and Patrice Archetto, fourth after the short program, were second with 169.06 points, while Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek of Poland were third with 164.04 points after both skaters fell during their routine.

The second-place finish allowed the Canadians to qualify for the Grand Prix final.

Earlier, Liashenko fell after her second maneuver, a triple flip, but went on to skate a technically sound program to receive 58.20 points from the judges.

"I didn't skate a clean program," said Liashenko, who won last week's Cup of Russia. "I missed the flip which is usually good for me so I'm upset about that, but all the other elements were good."

Suguri was second with 57.94 points, while compatriot and defending champion Onda was third with 56.38 points.

Kirk is bidding for a berth in the Dec. 12-14 Grand Prix Final in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She stumbled in her opening maneuver, a triple toe-triple toe combination and finished in fifth place with 51.36 points.

"I was upset with myself," said Kirk. "My spins weren't as good as they should have been. We switched my combination from triple lutz-triple toe to triple toe-triple toe and I had an error on that too."

Kirk, who was second in the series-opening Skate America and is currently sixth in the overall standings, still has a chance to win under the new scoring system which is based on cumulative points for jumps, spins and stepwork.

She had an outstanding free skating with seven triple jumps at Skate America in October.

The NHK is the last of the six regular events under the new scoring system. The Grand Prix final will also be under the new system but the major championships go back to the traditional 6.0 scores.

The NHK competition will determine the remaining places for the final with the top six in the overall standings at the end of Sunday's events qualifying.

Liashenko is in fourth place in the standings and is virtually assured a spot in the final. Kirk, Onda and Suguri are all looking to secure a place in Colorado Springs with a strong finish here.

The women's program concludes today with the free skate.

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