Czisny leads after ladies short at Nebelhorn Trophy

Finland's Korpi a close second

Alissa Czisny will compete against a tough ladies field at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.
Alissa Czisny will compete against a tough ladies field at the Rostelecom Cup in Moscow. (Getty Images)


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By J. Barry Mittan, special to
(09/25/2009) - The ladies began their Olympic quest at the Nebelhorn Trophy today in Oberstdorf, Germany. There are 33 ladies in the event, with 26 competing for one of six open Olympic slots.

U.S. ladies champion Alissa Czisny, the defending Nebelhorn gold medalist, earned 60.38 points in the short to lead the ladies.

"I came back because I wanted to get out in front of the judges as soon as possible," Czisny said. "I wanted to get into that competition feeling like I had last season."

"I'm keeping my eyes focused on my goal of going to the Olympics," Czisny added. "That's the culmination of every skater's dream. I remember when I saw my first Olympics and watched Nancy Kerrigan and Oksana Baiul. We didn't own a television so we rented one just to watch the Games."

Czisny's program included a triple flip, double Axel and triple Lutz-double toe combination as well as her spectacular spiral and spins for which she received Grades of Execution (GOEs) of 3 from at least one judge foe each spin.

"I saw Stéphane Lambiel got a 3 GOE on his spins yesterday and I wanted to get threes on my spins today," Czisny said. "I really like doing the layback."

Czisny, who at 11th place in the world rankings is the highest rated lady competing, used music from the motion picture soundtracks of The Mask of Zorro and The Legend of Zorro.

"It's fun and flirty and the choreography helps me get into character right at the beginning," Czisny said. "I always like to play a character."

Finland's Kiira Korpi, ranked 16th in the world, was the first of the ladies to skate. And she almost kept that position throughout the day, finishing in second place with 58.34 points.

"I wasn't thrilled to draw first so early in the morning," Korpi said, "but I often train earlier than that and the crowd was great with so many people."

Korpi, skating to "Caravan," completed a triple loop, double Axel and triple Lutz-double toe loop combination.

"This was a good beginning for the season," Korpi stated. "I've had higher scores but a few of my landings weren't perfect. I'm happy just to be here after such a difficult season last year."

"I wanted to have a competition to get ready before Finlandia," Korpi continued. "I only did three events last year because I had so many problems. This year, I'm stronger physically and mentally and enjoying my skating more. I'm not taking anything for granted."

Hungary's Julia Sebestyen, who has already been to three Olympics, placed second in the short. Sebestyen, who is ranked 20th in the world rankings, skated to "Song for A Secret Garden" and "Libertango." She landed a triple Lutz-double toe combination, and double Axel but missed on her triple flip.

"I just step on the ice and try to do my best," Sebestyen said. "It's harder now, not like when I was 18 years old. But I try to work hard from the first moment to the last."

"I was off the ice from February to May to heal an injury to my Achilles tendon," Sebestyen said. "I've changed my training now so I don't try to do everything every day."

"I love skating and I'm still a European champion and no one can take that from me," Sebestyen noted. "I hope to go to one more Olympics before I finish."

Austria's Miriam Ziegler, just up from juniors, was a surprise fourth, scoring 52.54 points while landing a triple loop-double toe combination, triple Salchow and double Axel. She skated to "Farewell" by Apocalyptica.

China's Yan Liu, who was 11th at the 2006 Olympic Games, placed fifth in the short program with 48.18 points. Liu, who skated to "The Impossible Dream" by Enrique, had a triple Lutz-double toe combination, triple loop and double Axel in her program.

Teodora Postic of Slovenia, skating to "Coeur a Cordes" by Pierre Porte, scored 47.62 points to place sixth in the short program. Postic landed a triple Salchow, double Axel, and triple loop-double toe.

Gemany's Sarah Hecken and Katharina Hacker finished seventh and eighth with 47.58 and 47.10 points respectively.

Estonia's Elena Glebova, skating to "East of Eden" by Lee Holdridge, scored 46.02 points to place ninth. She landed a double Axel and an effortless triple toe-triple toe combination, but a poorly executed flip, downgraded to a double with negative 3 GOEs at the start of the program hurt her chances.

"I like coming to Oberstdorf," Glebova said. "I've competed here for three or four years and it's a good way to start the season. There's no pressure on me since I've already qualified for the Olympics so I'm just excited to skate."

Luxembourg's Fleur Maxwell, who placed 24th at the 2006 Olympics, has an uphill fight to return to the Games after scoring only 35.20 points, putting her in 23rd place. She fell on the first jump in her combination, a triple Salchow, and singled her Axel, but landed a triple toe loop and had good spins.

Maxwell, who was off the ice for two-and-a-half years while studying at university, only decided to return to skating in May 2009.

"It started as a joke, just skating around the ice with my mother," Maxwell said. "It was just for fun. Then I decided the next morning to train again and try to go to the Olympics. I had not competed since 2006 except two small competitions in the United States this summer so this is a whole different ball game."