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Oct 15, 2012 12:56am
Medium lingzi 1454 posts

ST. Vince Wilfork Jersey . PAUL, Minn. – This is
as close as a rivalry can get. Evan Lysacek won his second straight title at the
U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Sunday, though the results will show him
with the same score as Johnny Weir. The two who have combined to win the last
five U.S. crowns both finished with 244.77 points. But Lysacek won the free
skate, and thats the tiebreaker. Fans didnt quite know what to do with that. The
scoreboard showed the two as even, and they booed when Weir was announced as the
runner-up. Still, Weir has nothing to regret. And just wait until next year.
Odds are, these two will be at it again. Stephen Carriere, last years world
junior champion, was third with 228.06 points. Lysacek and Weir have a
back-and-forth thats one of the best things going in skating. Weir won the U.S.
title from 2004-06, while Lysacek was winning a pair of bronze medals at the
world championships. But Lysacek has had the edge at home recently, now winning
the last two U.S. titles. Still, this is a much better showing for Weir than
last year, when an awful free skate dropped him to third. Lysacek said after
Fridays short program that he thought coming in as the defending champion would
give him a confidence boost, not a case of the nerves. But he didnt have his
usual sharpness or precision, and until his last two sections of footwork, his
free skate lacked his usual intensity and emotion. He landed his quadruple toe
loop jump on two feet, and needed to do a turn before the triple toe thats
supposed to be a combination. He wasnt very secure on the landings of either of
his triple axels, too, though he held on to both of them. He ended the program
nicely, though. His straight-line footwork is filled with intricate steps and
kicks and fast hops and turns. It always gets a nice reaction from the crowd,
and this was no different. They were cheering and clapping before his music even
finished, and Lysacek pumped his fist in satisfaction. But hed left room for
Weir. The two were separated by only 1.35 points after the short program, so
whoever won Sundays free skate would be the champion. But Weir couldnt take
advantage. The two were evenly matched in jumps
both two-footed their quads
and did seven triples. But Weir also appeared to land his triple flip on two
feet, and he had simpler entrances to his jumps. It may not sound like much, but
it was enough to make the difference between silver and gold. Weir shook up his
entire life after last years dismal season, switching coaches, choreographers
and even the city where he lives. He now trains outside of New York City with
Galina Zmievskaya, who coached Olympic gold medallists Viktor Petrenko and
Oksana Baiul. But something was missing in his performances at nationals. When
hes on, he is one of the most majestic skaters in the world, with a natural gift
for artistry and the ability to wring every ounce of emotion out of a program.
There was none of that in either his short program or free skate. He seemed to
be all business, as if he was crossing one thing after another off a mental
checklist. Even his footwork, one of his strength, lacked intensity. It was
strong enough, but without any excitement. His shoulders shook with sobs when he
finished, and he briefly dropped to one knee. A few minutes later, hed dropped
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the help he needed to get the New England Patriots into the Super Bowl.VANCOUVER
—Canadian womens soccer coach John Herdman does not hold back when describing
the importance of Saturdays pre-Olympic test against the United States. “Its one
of them where itll be a real yardstick,” said Herdman. “Itll tell us how close
we are to achieving our goal at the Olympics—and also how far away. Thats our
reality.” Canada has a 3-42-5 all-time record against the U.S., including a 1-0
extra-time loss in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The Canadians have not beaten the
Americans since 2001. The friendly in Sandy, Utah, is only the second
international contest on Canadas schedule since it qualified for the Games in
Vancouver in January. The only other game came in the form of a win last month
over China in Moncton, N.B. “(The Americans) are in great form,” said Herdman.
“Theyre smashing teams left, right and centre. And for these (Canadian) girls,
theyve had a lack of international games, so theyre desperate for this game.”
Competition was limited due to the suspension of the Womens Professional Soccer
season, only a day after the CONCACAF Olympic qualifier in Vancouver in January
ended. The league, which featured some of the worlds best players, subsequently
folded. Herdman revised his plans and introduced a residency program for most of
his players in Vancouver after initially planning to hold one only for players
who did not land with professional teams at home or overseas. In the qualifying
tournament final, the Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, thumped
seventh-ranked Canada 4-0, schooling Herdmans crew on the level necessary to
excel on a global stage. Fortunately, the Canadians had already qualified for
the Games on the basis of a semifinal win over Cuba, but the loss to the U.S.,
which came after Canada went 3-0 in round-robin play, forced Herdman and all of
his players to re-think their Olympic preparations. “If youre going to win
anything at the Olympics, at some point youre going to have to beat the U.S.,”
said Herdman. The Canadians have changed their formation drastically in a bid to
achieve more collective movement. Herdman wants his team to develop its own
distinct style while developing the ability to break down top-calibre squads.
“This (game) is about getting results,” said Herdman. “Its about allowing this
team to achieve the big dream.” Canadas best international result was a
fourth-place finish at the 2003 Womens World Cup. The Canadians havee an 8-3
record this year, with the other losses coming against sixth-ranked France and
fourth-ranked Sweden. Aaron Hernandez Jersey. Herdman, an
Englishman who took over the clubs reins from Italian Carolina Morace in
September following a disappointing early exit from the 2011 World Cup, was
blunt in his assessment of the Canadian womens squads progress. “I dont think
this team has ever progressed to a level that the country can be proud of,” he
said, adding he has asked players to change their ways. Accordingly, he calls
the game against the Americans a “huge test.” It could be a painful examination
for top goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc. The Maple Ridge, B.C., native is expected to
make her first start since spraining her ankle in training in May. She has only
been back in action for a week. If her health allows, she will play the full
game, which she hopes will produce a much better result than Canadas last
meeting with the U.S. did. “The qualifier sucked, but were beyond that,” LeBlanc
said. “Our vision and our goal is about the Olympics, and this is one of the
stepping stones to getting there.” In other words, revenge will not be a key
motivator for Canada in the Salt Lake City suburb, where a reported 16,000
tickets have already been sold. “We cant look back,” said LeBlanc. Midifielder
Sophie Schmidt of Abbotsford, B.C., has not seen the whole time since the
qualifier, because she was away playing in Sweden for a while. But she feels the
club has improved greatly since the loss to the U.S. She wants the club to focus
on how it is playing Saturday, but also overcome some past anxiety that it has
experienced in games against the Americans. “We need to compete to win,” said
Schmidt. “Were a little afraid to compete against the U.S., because theyre the
best team in the world. But we have to go into every game expecting ourselves to
win and want to win, because thats the team that we can be.” Canada must “hurt”
the U.S. on the pitch, at least for a little while, to reinforce lessons learned
during the residency camp. Such an effort will make a “world of difference
confidence-wise.” “We can beat any team on any given day, and we need to believe
that and play like that,” said Schmidt. After Saturdays game, the Canadians will
get five days off before departing for a pre-Olympic tournament in Switzerland
and then moving on to London for the Olympics. ’ ’ ’ 

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