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History on Meissner's side

If Kimmie Meissner is worried about defending her U.S. title, she should take heart from the history book.

The last time a reigning women's champion was dethroned was in 1997 in Nashville, when Michelle Kwan stumbled in the long program, allowing 14-year-old Tara Lipinski to win the gold.

Lipinski continued her winning ways at the World Championships and at the 1998 Olympics, and each time Kwan was the runner-up. Order was restored at the U.S. championships in 1998 in Philadelphia, where Kwan beat Lipinski to begin a run of eight consecutive titles.

On the men's side, one needs only to turn the page back one year, when Evan Lysacek decisively broke Johnny Weir's string of three titles in Spokane, Wash., setting up this weekend's rematch.

Maryland skater fourth

Silver Spring's Kristine Musademba, 15, took fourth place in the junior championship competition, with a combined score of 143.86 points.

Her long program, skated to Duke Ellington's "Caravan," included a triple loop-double toe combination jump.

"I felt pretty good," she said. "It's a lot of pressure and I think I handled it well."

Alexe Gilles of Colorado Springs won the event.

Flocking to St. Paul

What do Republicans, figure skaters and pheasants have in common this year?

St. Paul, the city that often plays second-fiddle to big sister Minneapolis across the river.

Last week, 29,802 game-bird enthusiasts attended the Pheasants Forever "Pheasant Fest" national convention at the St. Paul RiverCentre, next door to the Xcel Energy Center.

This week, it's the skaters, some of whom favor feathers in their performance attire.

And unless the presidential primary season sorts things out, feathers may fly again in early September, when the Republican National Convention -- 45,000 strong -- will fill the arena and convention center.

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