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Top skaters re-do programs for Vancouver

Lysacek and Denney, Barrett take shearing scissors to Scheherazade

Evan Lysacek has changed the footwork and spins in his free skate.
Evan Lysacek has changed the footwork and spins in his free skate. (Sarah S. Brannen)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/16/2010) - There are changes afoot in Evan Lysacek's Scheherazade free skate.

"We were all in the eights for [program] component marks this fall, mid- to high eights," Lysacek said after his short. "We saw an opportunity to go into the nines, [because] we had some feedback that some parts of the program lacked complexity and transitions."

That means Lysacek's feet will be working even harder to keep up with his arms, and still produce all the brackets, rockers and turns judges favor.

"I really wanted Level 4 on my footwork, and we were told we needed to add two turns to change the level," he said. "I did them [in the short], but they must have been dirty, because I still got Level 3.

"The changes weren't really reflected in the [short program] scores, but my coach, Frank Carroll and I, were excited with how it went."

Both Lysacek and short program leader Jeremy Abbott said that while the U.S. title was important, making the Olympic team and peaking in Vancouver was paramount. Since neither is expected to compete at this season's Four Continents, their performances Spokane are final dry-runs.

"I know the international judges receive a list of your scores for the season, and [the U.S. Championships] is not an ISU event, so they won't get my scores here," Lysacek said.

"This is a prestigious competition, and it comes with big bragging rights in the U.S., but it probably doesn't matter much in the international judges' minds."

If Lysacek made alterations, Caydee Denney and Jeremy Barrett tore their Scheherazade apart at the seams.

"We're literally scrapped [the layout] of the program; I'd say it's 90 percent different," the team's coach, Jim Peterson, said. "We re-organized it and it's definitely a much improved program."

The opening, a triple twist followed by triple toes and a throw triple Lutz, is unchanged, but everything else has been re-ordered.

"We shoved everything to the back end," said Peterson. "We noticed at the Grand Prix that most of the top teams had their lifts in the second half, so we moved all three of the lifts, and the throw triple loop. We want to earn the [10 percent] bonus.

"For the skip [double] Axels, we're doing them on a better circle entry right in front of the judges, to show the height and solid edge run out."

After landing first in the short, Denney and Barrett are on the cusp of their first U.S. pair title after skating together less than two years. Still, Peterson isn't worried about their nerves in the long.

"They're biggest strength is their consistency; they can go out and hit those elements," he said. "The [program] components are always a challenge for us. They've improved, but their strength is still their technical ability."