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Few surprises in worlds preliminary rounds

Weaver, Poje top ice dance; Berenice jumps to ladies win

Mae Berenice Meite took first in the ladies preliminary round at worlds.
Mae Berenice Meite took first in the ladies preliminary round at worlds. (Lynn Rutherford)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(04/26/2011) - As expected, Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje won Tuesday's ice dance preliminary round, although their winning margin was not as large as anticipated.

Canada's silver medalists earned 87.22 points for their entertaining free dance to "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend," defeating Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi of Germany by 3.55 points. An error on their straight-line lift -- Weaver failed to grasp her skate blade -- cost them points when the technical panel dropped the element to a Level 2.

"We had a strong start; we did the twizzles well, which can sometimes by our nemesis in practice," Weaver said.

"We're actually very grateful to have the opportunity [to compete in the prelims]," Poje said. "It's great to have a simulation of the event, at the event. It prepares us better for competition."

The Germans, eighth at the 2011 ISU European Figure Skating Championships, had a glitch in their free when Gazsi tripped on a connecting step.

"There was a wobble," he said. "I jumped and did not land evenly, and it was a one-point deduction."

"It felt really good, and I felt that Alex was strong, so I didn't expect the mistake, but it was not a big deal," Zhiganshina added.

Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas of Lithuania, who train in Canton, Mich., under Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, had a strong performance to take third place with 77.63.

Czech ice dancers Lucie Mysliveckova and Matej Novak, expected to be one of the top couples, qualified in eighth place after Mysliveckova failed to execute a twizzle sequence and later put her foot down on a spin. Neither element gained any points.

"It is not our normal performance, and it is not good, but it is good that we qualified," Mysliveckova said. "For the next part of the competition we just want to forget about our mistakes."

In addition to the teams mentioned above, couples from China, Ukraine, Georgia, Spain, Great Britain and Switzerland qualified to join the 15 other teams competing in the short dance event later this week.

Mae Berenice Meite landed five triples, including a triple Lutz-double toe combination and triple toe-double Axel sequence, en route to winning the ladies' preliminary by more than eight points.

The Frenchwoman's only major mistake was a poor landing on a triple flip.

"I've done many clean run-throughs in training, and I want to repeat that here in competition," Meite said. "Today's program gives me confidence and proves that my work has paid off."

Sweden's Joshi Helgesson took second with 91.70 points despite falling on a triple Lutz. Sonia LaFuente of Spain skated a clean program to take third place, just .07 behind Helgesson.

Skaters from Belgium, Canada, Finland, Denmark, Slovakia, Estonia, Ukraine, Austria and Switzerland will also join the 18 direct qualifiers to compete in the ladies' short program on Friday.

The poor performance of Min-Jeong Kwak was the day's biggest surprise. The Korean, a former training partner of Yu-Na Kim when she trained in Toronto with Brian Orser, failed to land a clean triple jump. She placed 15th and did not qualify for the main draw.