Facebook Twitter

Kwan wins 7th title, Weiss gets his 3rd

SHARE Kwan wins 7th title, Weiss gets his 3rd

DALLAS — See, it is possible to win a U.S. men's title without a quadruple jump.

Without a triple axel, too.

Despite splattering on his quad lutz, two-footing a quad toe and not doing a triple axel the entire competition, Michael Weiss somehow wound up with his third title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday.

"This was the most bizarre national championships ever," Weiss said.

You think?

And the really scary part is that on an afternoon filled with spills, splats and technical difficulties, Weiss was the best thing going.

Meanwhile, on the women's side, with the way Michelle Kwan keeps piling up national championships, should the Olympics really matter?

Kwan reasserted herself Saturday night with the style and perfection that has marked her illustrious career, winning her sixth straight U.S. Figure Skating Championships title and seventh overall.

Only one of the sport's legends, Maribel Vinson, has more, with nine. Kwan now has as many titles as any U.S. man, and she also owns four world crowns.

She will go after her fifth in Washington in March. So even with Olympic gold lacking — Kwan owns a silver and a bronze — there is no arguing her dominance on ice.

Certainly not after Saturday's performance, which had the crowd on its feet long before she was through. When Kwan opened her arms to the heavens as she finished her free skate, the audience's adoration made it clear who was the fans' champion.

"It's overwhelming sometimes, the moment," Kwan said, admitting that she had to wipe away tears after the flawless routine. "You prepare for so long, every day. Every day you just hope to skate as well as I did out there."

She received a 6.0 for artistry, her 28th perfect mark at nationals, along with six 5.9s. Her program, to "Aranjuez," was spotless, including six triple jumps that were so smooth they seemed automatic.

Just like the way she collects national titles.

Olympic champion Sarah Hughes, in her first significant event of the season, moved up from third to second with a flowing routine that featured five triple jumps and a huge sigh of relief when she was done. Hughes was the first American woman to win Olympic gold and then skate at the next national championships.

Sasha Cohen, the most successful skater this season with three victories, two on the Grand Prix circuit, fell once, two-footed other jumps and slipped to third. It was reminiscent of her shaky showing in the free skate at the Olympics, when she dropped from third to fourth.

Cohen was so disappointed in her performance that she barely acknowledged the applause after seeing her marks.

"I can't give you an answer why I wasn't up for a performance I wanted," she said. "Now I've got to go home, take this with me and not let it happen again," she said.

For the men, "Quad King" Tim Goebel couldn't land a quad, the second-best skater in the short program clipped the boards while doing simple crossovers, and the rankings got so shook up the judges' heads are still spinning.

Little-known Ryan Jahnke vaulted all the way from sixth to third, getting help from Johnny Weir and Matt Savoie, who rounded out the top three after the short.

Weir was the one who clipped the wall, and he dropped out after falling on another jump, straining his left knee. Savoie, already hampered by a bum knee, had more technical difficulties than a cable-access TV station. He had to stop his performance when his stirrup snapped, and he waited more than five minutes for his marks after a computer glitch posted them under Weiss' name.

Savoie probably would have been happy to leave them there, because they dropped him to fifth.

Got all that?

"It wasn't fun, just a weird air in the building," Weiss said. "I never had someone not finish a program a couple of skaters in front of me, and then have it happen again. And then the long delay, it felt like I was waiting 15 minutes for them to announce my name.

"They had the technical difficulties, and then I ran into the flower girl. And they had my name on Matt's marks.

"Just weird."

But after waiting three years for another U.S. title, Weiss isn't really complaining.

He won national crowns and world bronze medals in both 1999 and 2000, then struggled with injuries and inconsistency. He barely made his second Olympic team last year.

Feeling like he needed to shake up things, he left his coach of 18 years, Audrey Weisiger, in October and now works with Don Laws, Scott Hamilton's mentor.

But after finishing fourth in the short, Weiss needed help just to make the world team, let alone have a shot at the title.

Boy, did he get it.

The weirdness began with Weir. After he clipped the wall and fell, the referee allowed him pick up where he left off. But Weir was shaken, stepping out of his first triple axel and then falling on the second, hurting his knee.