The Ladies.



All the ladies. As best I can. There is no distinction in the listings between amateur and professional. For one, some of these kids hop like crickets back and forth, and there is no guarantee that we won't have another Boitano-Rule Olympics at some point. I refuse to make more work for myself during a time when it's going to be bad enough already. And they need to be reminded that they are all skaters. No matter what.


ARMENIA: Merine Tadevosyan -- This is one of the ones you hope for. Old-style elegant lines, some sense of positioning, skate blades that are learning. Just keep on going, Merine. It will come with time. Use music you like. See if you can do your own choreography. Just let this girl skate! It'll come with time. Haven't seen them so unspoiled since the 1960's -- Peggy, Dick, remember?

AUSTRALIA: Joanne Carter -- You know, this girl could be really good. It's that left outer edge and some attitude. Coach, give her some good left outer front spirals, at least 30 feet, to do and make sure she pretends there are network (international, please)cameras hidden in among her audience of koalas. That'll do it. (And while I'm catching typos on this essay, kid, pretend you're at Worlds all over again. It'll help.)

AUSTRIA:

AZERBAIJAN: Yulia Vorobieva -- Y'know, if medals were the important thing, I'd shut up. But this kid has her own uneven, quirky style of skating, and if anybody tried to fix it, they'd ruin her. You can't do it. Give her four to five years to develop. She's not Tara. She's Yulia. Let her skate as herself. She'll be fine.

BULGARIA: Sofia Penkova -- C'mon, girl. Do the weight training. It'll honestly help you get those legs back up in those spirals. Help you kick up into the Biellmann. And hold your shoulders back in those laybacks. Basic strength reps. She can handle it. And feed her. What are you doing?

CANADA: Angela Derochie -- Explain this: here's one who can skate lyrically. Why are you holding her back? Let her develop a bit more vavoom and a bit more flair just by letting her move a little faster and she'll do it on her own -- and there you are! She's got powerhouse edges under her -- go figure why she's been sitting on the back burner.

CHINA:

CROATIA: Ivana Jakupcevic -- Wow. What a graceful skater. Support this child. Wherever you are. This could be the next Peggy Fleming. I'm banging the gong right here. Peggy Alert. She just naturally knows where to place those blades and place her arms, and keep her hair from bothering her. Warm up the podium. I give her five years. Max.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Lenka Kulovana -- Why is no one coaching this kid? She has the legs and arms to do triple axels easily. Why can she barely do a triple flip? A flip should be easy for a natural edge-girl like her. Who's holding her back? Now look, Tonya, just stay away from the crowbar and you'll be fine. Just keep skating.

ESTONIA: Jekaterina Golovatenko -- Needs to be more solid on her skates. Front outer edges need serious work. Then she'll be able to fly! Make her spin on those babies -- do leaps and jumps -- and stretch in the direction she's going -- she wants to be a bird, let her. But make sure she's got the wings. Please.

FINLAND: Alisa Drei -- Wow. What delicacy. What line. What lack of edges. Can we schedule some time with one of the great American edgemeister coaches? Alex McGowan, where are you? Robert Callaghan, got any space? I hate to admit it, but Frank Carroll? Four weeks. That's all I ask. Four weeks.

FRANCE:

GERMANY: Tanja Szewczenko -- I'm about to hurt some feelings here. Where is this child's competition? You're making her look good to the Americans! They think this is figure skating! Ballet. Now. With Laetitia: 3-4 hours worth, 5-6 times a week. Somebody make her point her toes. And remember your history. It didn't come over with McDonald's. It's been here for thousands of years. Stop acting like Michelle Kwan. Even Michelle doesn't do enough ballet classes!

GREECE: Anna Chatziathanassiou -- You know, this girl has all the elements in place to make a real big-time skater. All she needs is the flair, the mystique, the self-confidence. Whe you see that Dorothy Hamill reach to the spins, you'll know she's got it. It just takes time. And lots of camera experience.

HONG KONG: Rita Dolly Anyeung -- Wow. What high kicks. What steps. What flavor. Why can't this girl improve? Somebody trying to make this girl look other than what she is? Let that arm stretch and those spirals flow -- she doesn't have to look American!

HUNGARY:

ITALY:

JAPAN: Shizuka Arakawa -- The home country must be proud. You've earned this. Show it off. It's the most glamorous competition there is. You're center stage in the Land of the Rising Sun. And then, later, practice 20-30 feet straight spirals on all edges. Forget the 20. Make it 30.

D.P.R. KOREA: Hyung-Kyung Choi -- Wow. Look out. This one has the style, the leg stretch, everything. All she needs is a little more balletic projection. Don't be afraid to show your most lyrical self to the back rows. I mean the very back rows. Check the Peggy Fleming layback recommedations. That'll straighten her edges out.

LATVIA: Valeria Trifancova -- What a group of spinners we have here! Coaches, don't let her free leg stray -- she'l need that. Make her reach up. High. Let her use old-fashioned music. Jumps will come with this one with time. Let her stretch out now.

LITHUANIA: Lauryna Slavinskaite -- Such delicacy. Such line. Such lack of training. Get to a coach who will recognize your Peggy-Fleming-type potential and not try to make you a Surya. Don't feel ashamed to reach to the ceiling from your toes -- it's in you. And don't be afraid to spin. Surya, my ass!

MEXICO: Rocia Salas Visuet -- Great! Where has this kid been? She could teach us all a few things about positioning and line. Work on your edges, front and back, a little more. Stretch up for spread eagles and a lot of problems will be solved. Back edges can be very showy in flaunty programs. But they have to be good first.

NORWAY: Kaja Hanevold -- Could really be another Sonja Henie. But she has to be allowed to skate for herself. That's why she's doing this! Better skates and loosen up. Maybe three months off and remembering why she's doing this? Come back to the ice with solid stretches -- and let her pick the music!!!

POLAND: Anna Rechnio -- I hate to say this, but lose some weight. 10 pounds. You'll project better in your costumes, your jumps'll be better, and you'll be able to stretch higher. And the high stretch is what skating is all about. Meat and carbohydrates, it looks like. Fruit, veggies, water, and whatever else you eat. Your skates are begging.

ROMANIA: Noemi Bedo -- What a spinner. I like her approaches to her spins and her turnout from her spins. Very technical, yet manages to retain the beauty and the flair. See, it can be done! They could let her jump a little more and still not spoil herself. Let her stretch herself!

RUSSIA:

SOUTH AFRICA: Shirene Human -- Beautiful! Why hasn't this girl been recognized before? Hey, Nelson Mandela was freed. South Africa is okay now. Get on it! A little more stretch to the high legs -- really feel that pull down the back thigh -- and you'll be fine. Smile for the camera. You'll need it.

SLOVAK REPUBLIC: Zuzana Paurova -- Edges. Back. Front. Inner. Outer. Left. Right. Oh my God. How did this kid get here? Well, she's here. Let's make the best of it. No money, no training... your assignment is this entire site. Read it. Make your coach read it. Go find every single edge-training trick and do it. Now.

SLOVENIA: Mojca Kopac -- Ummmm...complete overhaul. Unless you can get one of the Russian coaches to take her, beg Linda Leaver. Peter Burrows. Carlo's gone. Oh well. He was always safe. Always. Linda can teach edgework like nobody's business and still keep a skater's confidence high. She'll need it.

SPAIN: Marta Andrade -- The soul of Spain visits us. Keep clicking those castanets and you'll be fine. Need I say red and black lace? Hey, it worked for Katarina....Nothing else to say. It's all in place. She'll explode when she wants to. With the flamenco blasting.

SWEDEN:

SWITZERLAND: Lucinda Ruh -- Where are this child's back edges? In her skate bag? And those pointy things up front are toe picks. Learn to use them. (Talk to Scotty.) And quit flattering yourself you're Nancy Kerrigan. You're Lucinda. That's even better. Now reach back with your legs on those laybacks. That'll begin to teach you spiral technique. Ballet class! Now! Positioning!

UKRAINE:

USA:

UZBEKISTAN: Tatiana Malinina -- Good smooth lines. Get someone to work on her edges. You can't handle everything at once. Someone good. American. The Russians can't handle her. She's too wild. Calm her down. Make her focus on her edges. And she'll be okay.

YUGOSLAVIA: Helena Pajovic -- Watch her free edges on turns. Those really tend to get out of place. Arm positioning -- look at Peggy Fleming layback recommendations. Wouldn't hurt her feet, either. Otherwise, extraordinarily lyrical skater. Her spins can look like pure meditation. And should.