Abbott skates to berth in Olympics
Jeremy Abbott came to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships wanting a spot on the Vancouver Olympic team more than a second straight national title.
He got both.
Abbott put on his most impressive performance since winning nationals last year, peaking at the perfect time. His score of 263.66 points yesterday at Spokane, Wash., was 25 more than that of world champion Evan Lysacek — a landslide for those of you still confused by skating's new judging system.
"I just felt so proud because this is probably the best performance I've ever given in my entire life," Abbott said.
Johnny Weir finished fifth in the free skate, but had built up a big enough lead in the short program to stay third overall. The three-man Olympic team was announced about a half-hour after the competition yesterday and, no surprise, it was the top three. During their victory lap, Abbott, Lysacek and Weir all carried U.S. flags as chants of "U-S-A! U-S-A!" rang through the arena.
"I'm very honored to be part of this team and stand next to these two guys. Of the six, seven, eight, nine, 10 incredible men that competed tonight, we came out on top," Lysacek said. "We're going to work really hard, and we're going to do really well."
Abbott imploded after winning the title last year with dismal performances at Four Continents and the world championships. That prompted him to make a coaching change last May, a decision many questioned because it was coming so close to the Olympics. When he got off to a slow start this season, it seemed to back up the doubters.
"Everyone has doubt in themselves, but I used to believe it," Abbott said. "That little nagging voice in the back of my head that told me I couldn't do it, I'd believe it. I'm learning I can quiet that voice and tell it to shut up."
CHAN WINS THIRD STRAIGHT IN CANADA
Patrick Chan won his third straight Canadian figure skating title yesterday at London, Ontario, with a performance that left roomfor improvement at next month's Vancouver Olym-pics.
The reigning world silver medallist scored 177.88 points for his free program and 268.02 overall, despite skipping the second jump on an opening combination and touching his hand down on a triple toe loop.
Vaughn Chipeur won the silver with 222.10 points, and Kevin Reynolds won bronze after landing a pair of quads that earned him 216.49 points.
Chipeur and the 19-year-old Chan will fill Canada's two spots to Vancouver.
AUSTRIA'S ZETTEL WINS GIANT SLALOM
Kathrin Zettel of Austria won a World Cup slalom for her second victory in as many days, and Maria Riesch of Germany took the overall lead from Lindsey Vonn yesterday by finishing third at Maribor, Slovenia.
Zettel went down the Radvanje course in a two-run combined time of 1 minute, 42.98 seconds to beat Tina Maze of Slovenia by 0.71 seconds.
Riesch finished 1.28 seconds back, while Vonn failed to qualify for the final run. Riesch leads the American by 28 points with 13 races left.
Vonn finished 4.55 seconds back in 46th place.
CROATIA'S KOSTELIC WINS FIRST OF SEASON
Ivica Kostelic of Croatia won a World Cup slalom yesterday at Wengen, Switzerland, for his first victory this season, dropping to his knees and kissing the snow at the finish.
Kostelic led after the first leg and completed the two runs in 1 minute, 40.34 seconds for his 10th career victory on the circuit.
Sweden's Andre Myhrer was 0.29 back in second.
American Bode Miller skied out in the top half and was among 22 of 69 racers who did not finish the first run.
Bobsled: Mike Kohn of the United States has secured a four-man bobsled spot at the Vancouver Olympics, after finishing sixth in a World Cup race at St. Moritz, Switzerland.
Kohn's result yesterday means the Americans will have three sleds in the Olympic four-man competition, with Steven Holcomb and John Napier having already secured enough points to mathematically wrap up bids.
Kohn earned a spot in the two-man Olympic competition Saturday.