'Determined' Meissner wraps up women's title

Updated: February 10, 2007, 7:27 PM ET
Associated Press

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- One bad program can be excused. Two can't.

Kimmie Meissner's solid free skate program Saturday made up for a poor showing in the short program and allowed her to come back to win the Four Continents title.

Upset with her performance in the short program Thursday night, Meissner made up more than four points on Joannie Rochette of Canada, who finished third. Emily Hughes was second after turning in a personal-best international performance in the free skate.

"I definitely felt more determined," said Meissner, who recently won the U.S. championships. "I was a little angry."

Meissner's coach, Pam Gregory, had a chat with her. They talked about the importance of skating well leading to the world championships in Tokyo in March. Judges tend to remember bad performances.

"In the eyes of the judges, it's important for her to be skating on her game," Gregory said. "We weren't upset about one skate. Anyone can have a bad skate as long as she comes back focused and gets the job done."

As Meissner stood on the ice before the start of her program, she told herself it was only a few points. She even used Evan Lysacek as motivation. He made up more than 10 points in the free skate the night before to win the men's program.

"I like my program and I practice it every day, so I just wanted to do it," Meissner said.

Meissner pretended she was simply skating back in Delaware. She popped her triple flip and didn't do the triple toe loop, but hit all her other elements.

"It will be fixed by Tokyo," Meissner said of her early mistake.

Hughes was all smiles as she came off the ice.

"I felt great out there," Hughes said. "It was nice to go out there and do a clean performance."

But Hughes knows there's work to be done. She wants to add a triple flip-triple toe loop to her program.

"That's the next step," she said.

The next step for Meissner is to keep working on a triple axel. She has landed it successfully in practice -- a lot -- but it's not quite ready to incorporate back into the program. The last time she hit the triple axel in competition was in 2005 at the U.S. championships.

"It's not ready. It's not worth the risk of disaster," Gregory said.

The triple axel is almost ready, though.

"I ran a bunch of them in practice, so I'm going to look at my program again and hopefully add it at worlds," Meissner said. "But sometimes it messes up the program -- the timing of it -- so if I can get it trained and ready, we'll have it at worlds."

Alissa Czisny of the United States dropped to fifth place after being in fourth following the short program.

"I was a little disappointed in my long program," she said.

In the morning warmup, Hughes accidentally collided with Rochette. Both were fine as they apologized and skated away.

"We were laughing about it in the changing room," Rochette said.

Canada's Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon captured the ice dancing title Friday night. China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo went home with the pairs crown Thursday night.

Canadian pairs skater Jessica Dube was back at the rink Saturday watching her friend Cynthia Phaneuf perform.

Dube had surgery Thursday night to repair lacerations to her left cheek and nose after being hit by partner Bryce Davison's skate in the free skate competition earlier in the day.

She has watched the replay of her accident -- several times -- and hasn't turned away.

"I was thinking it was worse than that," she said Saturday.

Annie Barabe, who coaches Dube and Davison, said Dube's ready to get back on the ice.

The doctors, though, want her to wait at least 10 more days.

"In her head, she thinks she's going to be fine and she told me she would've been ready to skate [Saturday]," Barabe said. "She's very, very tough."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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