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Lambiel crushes competition at Nebelhorn

Russia's Tretiakov takes surprise silver

Stephane Lambiel racked up 232.36 points overall to win men's gold at the Nebelhorn Trophy.
Stephane Lambiel racked up 232.36 points overall to win men's gold at the Nebelhorn Trophy. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(09/25/2009) - Two-time world champion Stéphane Lambiel of Switzerland celebrated his return to competitive skating by winning the gold medal at the Nebelhorn Trophy by 26 points over his nearest rival. Lambiel, who was first in the short program, scored 154.91 points in the free skate for 232.36 points overall.

Lambiel, skating to "Otono Porteno" by Astor Piazzola, landed a quad toe-double toe-double toe and triple flip-triple toe combinations, a triple flip, triple loop, triple Salchow and two double Axels, but he popped his triple Lutz.

"I'm very excited to be back competing," Lambiel said. "This was my first competition in 18 months, so I really felt the pressure. But the 18 months off helped me to become a better skater and a better person."

"I was happy with my performance although I would have liked to have skated clean and done a triple Axel," Lambiel continued. "I was touched to see so many fans and wanted to skate well for them as well as myself."

"This was the first time I competed in September since I was a junior," Lambiel added. "It was a little bit soon, but the win is a bonus for the rest of the season. Now that I have qualified my country for the Olympics, I just have to make sure I qualify myself."

Russia's Ivan Tretiakov skated to the motion picture soundtrack of Charade and garnered 139.18 points in the free skate, placing him second. His combined total of 206.23 points jumped Tretiakov, who was fifth in the short program, over Michal Brezina to win the silver medal.

"This was my first medal at a major international," Tretiakov said. "Last year I came here, but finished really low, so I did not think I would be in the top five."

Tretiakov opened with a quad Salchow and then completed a double and triple Axel, a triple loop and triple Lutz, and triple flip-triple toe and triple flip-double toe-double toe combinations.

"It was the first time I landed the quad in competition," Tretiakov noted. "I missed it in my warm up, and my coach told me to play safe but I insisted on doing it."

The Czech Republic's Brezina, the 2009 world junior figure skating men's silver medalist, earned 132.11 points for his free skate to George Gershwin's "An American in Paris." Second in the short program, Brezina had a total score of 205.34 points to win the bronze medal.

"Last year I was better prepared for the Nebelhorn because I had done two Junior Grand Prixs before the Nebelhorn," Brezina said. "This year, it was my first competition. I did not do all that I wanted to do, but now I have all three medals from the Nebelhorn, so I'm happy about that."

Brezina landed a triple Axel-double toe, triple flip-triple toe and triple Salchow-double toe combinations, a triple flip and a double Axel, but he popped his triple Axel and quad Salchow attempts and was downgraded on his triple Lutz.

U.S. Skater Ryan Bradley, skating to Mozart's "Amadeus," had a score of 127.50 points in the free program, good enough for fourth place. His total of 195.68 points left him in fourth place overall.

Bradley stumbled out of his opening quad toe. He landed triple toe, double Axel, and triple loop but fell on a triple flip. He completed triple Salchow-triple toe, triple Lutz-double toe, and triple Lutz-double toe-double toe combinations.

Austria's Viktor Pfeiffer, who qualified for the 2006 Olympics with a silver medal at the Olympic qualifying competition in Vienna in 2005, succeeded in gaining a second trip to the Olympic Games.

Pfeiffer, who was sixth in the short program, scored 129.34 points in the free skate, good enough for fifth place in the free. His total of 194.66 put him in fifth place overall.

Skating to "Concerto de Aranjuez," Pfeiffer landed his opening quad toe loop awkwardly but then reeled off solid double Axel-triple toe, triple Salchow-triple toe and triple Lutz-double toe combinations. He landed triple flip, but then doubled two Axels and a Lutz near the end of the program.

France's Yannick Ponsero, who was 13th after the short, placed fourth in the free skate by scoring 132.06 points with his program. He ended the competition in sixth place overall with 187.56 points.

Ponsero skated to "Caravan" and "Sing, Sing, Sing" by Brian Setzer and "Summertime" and "Porgy and Bess" by Louis Armstrong.

He landed a quad toe loop, triple Axel, triple Lutz, triple Salchow-double toe combination, and triple toe-triple Salchow sequence but popped a second triple Axel and was downgraded on his triple loop and double Axel-double toe combination.

Japan's Akio Sasaki, who was seventh in the short, placed ninth in the long with 114.86 points while skating to two pieces by Rodrigo and Gabriela, "Tamacun" and "Rodrigo Solo" plus "Stairway to Heaven." His overall total of 179.15 gave him a seventh place finish.

Local favorite Stefan Lindemann, trying to come back from an injury-plagued couple of years to make a second Olympics, also succeeded in his attempt to win a spot for Germany.

Lindemann, eighth after the short program, also placed eighth in the free skate with 114.93 points. His overall total of 178.88 points left him in eighth position, good enough to qualify for the Olympics.

The 2005 world bronze medalist skated to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Hancock.

Canadian Joey Russell, who was in fourth place in the short program, scored only 107.11 points in the long program while skating to "Kismet." Russell's total score was 174.91 points, placing him ninth overall.

Song Choi Ri of North Korea, who placed ninth in the short, skated to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons." He earned 111.73 points in the free skate to place 11th. Ri finished tenth overall with 172.14 points to become North Korea's second Olympic qualifier in figure skating.

The six quota spots for men at the Olympic Games went to Austria, Finland, Germany, North Korea, Romania, and Switzerland.