Grand Prix Series

Flatt wins free skate to take silver medal

Rachael FlattRachael Flatt was in awe of Yu-Na Kim after the Korean set a world record in the short program Saturday at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y. “Skating against her is such an inspiration,” the two-time U.S. silver medalist said following her own second place performance.

The inspiration went a long way for the high school honors student. On Sunday, she nailed seven triple jumps in her “Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini” program to Kim’s three, beating the 2009 World Champion in the free skating competition.

Flatt’s 116.11 points in the free was a new personal best.

Benefiting from the enormous lead after the short program, Kim hung on to win the Skate America gold medal with 187.98 points, despite the lackluster free performance. Flatt (174.91) grabbed the silver medal, her first Grand Prix podium appearance of the season, while Hungary’s Julia Sebestyen took the bronze medal with 159.03.

Flatt started her program strong with a double axel then nailed the triple flip-triple toe combination, which she fell on in the short program. Other highlights included the triple flip-double toe-double loop, two Level 4 spins and a Level 3 step sequence, which brought the crowd to its feet for the 17 year old American.

Her final spin did not receive any points but the points would not have changed the final outcome of the event. “I did not get credit for my last spin, because I had a distance of more than six feet between [re-centering] the spin,” said Flatt, who is the 2008 World Junior Champion and was the highest American finisher at the World Championships last season, where she placed fifth.

Kim opened her program with a triple lutz-triple toe but her second jump was downgraded for under rotation, a mistake that is rare from the superstar called “Queen Yu-Na” by fans around the globe. She was unable to recover from the opening miscue, falling on the next element, an under rotated triple flip. The double lutz later in the program was also under rotated.

“It’s really hard to match her [Kim’s] quality, because she has set an incredibly high standard,” Flatt said. “And she has shown that she does falter on occasion.”

Skating to Gone with the Wind, Emily Hughes, the 2006 Olympian who was named the replacement for injured Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen on Monday, landed three clean triples, including a triple Lutz, double toe and triple flip-double toe. She placed seventh overall with 135.31 points.

Former U.S. Junior Ladies Champion Alexe Gilles, who was fifth at Trophee Eric Bompard, had trouble on almost every jump in her free skate, even falling on the double Axel and popping a triple Lutz into a single. She was 10th overall with 129.01.

Such an impressive performance for Flatt will only further her case for being one of the two ladies named to the 2010 U.S. Olympic team following the conclusion of the 2010 U.S. Championships, Jan. 14-24, in Spokane, Wash. She faces competition from a handful of women but none stronger than Ashley Wagner, who won a silver and bronze in her Grand Prix competitions.

Reigning U.S. Champion Alissa Czisny, 2008 U.S. Champion Mirai Nagasu and 2009 bronze medalist Caroline Zhang all compete at Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. Czisny was fourth and the Rostelecom Cup. Nagasu was fifth at the Cup of China, where Flatt placed fourth. Zhang was fourth at Trophee Eric Bompard.

Skate America is the fifth event of the 2009 International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix of Figure Skating circuit. The series, now in its 15th season, consists of six international events in a cumulative, point-scoring format. The top six scoring athletes in each discipline move onto the Grand Prix Final, Dec. 3-6, in Tokyo, Japan, which will be combined with the ISU Junior Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final for the second consecutive season.

The six Grand Prix events are Trophee Eric Bompard, Oct. 15-18, in Paris, France; Rostelecom Cup, Oct. 22-25, in Moscow Russia; Cup of China, Oct. 29-Nov. 1, in Beijing, China; NHK Trophy, Nov. 5-8, in Nagano, Japan; Skate America, Nov. 12-15, in Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Canada.

The points toward the Grand Prix Final that are awarded for each place are 15 points for first; 13 points for second; 11 points for third; nine points for fourth; seven points for fifth; five points for sixth place; four points for seventh place; and three points for eighth. In pair skating, only the top six receive points.


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