Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kwan Sags; Meno, Sand Soar in Pairs

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Kwan Sags; Meno, Sand Soar in Pairs

Article excerpt

The coronation of Michelle Kwan will have to wait a day. Maybe longer.

The perfection of Jenni Meno and Todd Sand will last them forever.

Kwan, the highly regarded 14-year-old expected to be America's next ice queen, was a wobbly third Friday in the short program in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, trailing Tonia Kwiatkowski and Nicole Bobek.

Meno and Sand defended their pairs title by scorching the scoreboard with six perfect 6.0s for artistry in the free skate. Their other three marks were 5.9s, and they had eight 5.9s and a 5.8 for technical merit.

"It felt great. We did exactly what we were trained to do," Meno said.

"I think that is the level of performance we have been trying for," added Sand.

And their coach, John Nicks, a veteran of 30 years in the profession, was even more emphatic.

"I've not seen any pair in my time that has gotten that set of marks in a U.S. nationals," Nicks said. "This is a vote of confidence from our association and I thought it was well-deserved."

Kyoko Ina, who was fourth in the women's short program earlier in the day, and partner Jason Dungjen also put on a superb display to finish second in pairs for the second successive year. Both couples will go to the world championships next month in Birmingham, England.

Bronze medalists were Stephanie Stiegler and Lance Travis.

At the top of the women's event was Kwiatkowski, one of the few veterans in a very young field. The way Kwiatkowski is skating, she just might stay at the top.

"It's exciting, especially at nationals, to do a clean program when you are skating first," said Kwiatkowski, who will turn 24 Sunday and is in her 10th nationals. Her best finish was third two years ago, but she then bombed at worlds, not even qualifying for the regular event. "The placement is fantastic, but I still have a job to do tomorrow" in the free skate, she said. …

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