The Joy Of Six

April 05, 2004
April 05, 2004

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April 5, 2004

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The Joy Of Six

Won her first world figure skating championship, Shizuka Arakawa
of Japan. The 22-year-old opened her long program in Dortmund,
Germany, with an eye-popping triple lutz-triple toe-double loop
combination and never looked back. She beat the U.S. pair of
Sasha Cohen, who led heading into the free skate, and Michelle
Kwan, who came up short in her quest for a sixth title. Arakawa
failed to make the Japanese team from 1999 through 2002, and she
finished just eighth in the worlds last year. But earlier this
month she began training in Simsbury, Conn., with Tatiana
Tarasova, Cohen's former coach, and last week the athletic
Arakawa's potential--she landed her first triple in elementary
school--was realized. Her triple-triple, a combination neither
Cohen nor Kwan attempted, earned her a rare 6.0 for technical
merit from one judge.

This is an article from the April 5, 2004 issue

Then again, Dortmund saw a spring shower of perfect 6.0s. The
judges were feeling munificent, perhaps even a bit nostalgic
about the old 6.0 system, which will be voted into oblivion in
June at the next meeting of the ISU congress. An astonishing 43
perfect marks were given out in the men's, ladies', pairs and ice
dance, as judges, cloaked in anonymity, overmarked their
favorites to their hearts' content. Perfection never looked so
commonplace as when Russia's Evgeny Plushenko, who won his third
world title, received four 6.0s for presentation despite taking a
hard fall. The 19-year-old Cohen was awarded four perfect marks
for presentation while winning the ladies' short program. Kwan
received six 6.0s in her long program, but she was penalized a
tenth of a point on each judge's card for exceeding the maximum
time limit in the short. It remains to be seen whether the
scoring system to be used at future world and Olympic
competitions will be an improvement. As for the old 6.0 system, a
cold warrior that was finally ushered off the world stage at a
competition that was otherwise marked by the spectacular arrival
of a new talent, let these two words serve as epitaph: good

--E.M. Swift

COLOR PHOTO: STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES (2) JUST PERFECT A triple combo put Arakawa (center) ahead of Cohen(left) and Kwan.COLOR PHOTO: STUART FRANKLIN/GETTY IMAGES (2)