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Italy, Japan and France top the podium in Vienna

Kostner, Oda, Carron and Jost win gold medals at Karl Schafer

Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost cruised to the ice dancing title in Vienna.
Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost cruised to the ice dancing title in Vienna. (Getty Images)

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By Mickey Brown, special to icenetwork.com
(10/17/2008) - Italy, Japan and France were represented at the top of the podiums this week at the Karl Schafer Memorial in Vienna, Austria. Carolina Kostner came from behind to win the ladies competition, Nobunari Oda earned his second gold medal of the season, and Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost sailed to victory in ice dancing.

Ladies

Making her first competitive appearance since finishing second at the 2008 ISU World Figure Skating Championships, Kostner had an inauspicious beginning, falling on both her triple flip and her triple Lutz in her short program, which she skated to "Mujer Sola" by Omette Coleman and "Canaro en Paris" by Scarpino and Calderella. She trailed Estonia's Elena Glebova and Germany's Annette Dytrt by 1.30 points, as both skaters scored 51.89 for their short programs.

Kostner won the free skate with her Swan Lake program, but her score of 93.07 is nothing to write home about. She fell twice in during her performance, giving her only the segment's seventh-highest technical score. She was able to win the session because her program components score was nine points higher than anyone else's.

Glebova rode her "Carmina Burana" free skate to a second-place finish in the segment and the silver medal, edging Dytrt by 0.31 points. Dytrt scored 86.78 points for her free skate, performed to Camille Saint-Saens' "The Swan."

American Molly Oberstar, making her senior international debut, pulled up from 13th after the short program to place sixth in the free skate and seventh overall.

"It wasn't the best I could do, but it was fun to get out there," Oberstar said. "It gave me confidence for [the 2009 Midwestern Sectional Championships] in a few weeks."

Men

Oda continued his career revival this week in Vienna, winning the free skate en route to his second gold medal of the season. He also finished atop the podium at the Nebelhorn Trophy.

Oda trailed Italy's Samuel Contesti by two points (74.48-72.51) after falling in his Waltz Masquerade short program. He fell again, on a quad attempt, in his "Warsaw Concerto" free skate, but his technical mark (70.19) was far and away the best of the segment. He won the competition by a 10-point margin over Contesti and bested bronze medalist Tomas Verner by 15 points.

American Tommy Steenberg placed sixth in each phase of the competition and came in seventh overall, while Wesley Campbell finished 13th. This was the first senior international event for both skaters.

"I was happy that I went for everything and that I rotated every jump in both programs," Steenberg said. "I made some mistakes, but it's a good stepping stone in the season."

Ice Dancing

While Carron and Jost predictably won the event by a comfortable 17-point margin, there was a vicious fight for the other two podium spots. Both American teams came away with medals, as Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt earned the silver, while Charlotte Maxwell and Nick Traxler claimed the bronze. The teams that placed second through sixth were separated by less than six points.

Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt placed second in both the compulsory and original dance segments and still managed to finish second overall despite a fifth-place showing in the free dance.

The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based team had a serious obstacle to overcome, as Kriengkrairut developed a bad case of tendonitis in her Achilles early in the week.

"I tried to push through it and not think about it, but the pain was definitely there," said Kriengkrairut, who had family members fly in from Thailand to watch her skate. "I tried to ignore it as best I could."

The injury wasn't as bad during the first two phases of the competition, but by Thursday, the day the team was to skate their darkly sinister metal guitar free dance, the pain was hard to bear.

"When you get out there and the adrenaline's flowing, you forget about it," Giulietti-Schmitt said. "A few things were more cautious, but we fought through them and did a great job."

Maxwell and Traxler's week contrasted that of their teammates. They said they skated too tense in the compulsory and original dances but felt loose and quick during their Natalia Linichuk-choreographed free dance, a modern dance to Queen's "We Will Rock You" and "The Show Must Go On."

"Today we really focused on staying relaxed and skating the way we skate at home in practice," Traxler said. "I always know when a program goes by fast that it was good one."

Their third-place finish in the final segment pulled them up from fourth and onto the podium.