Meissner's next stop: Colorado tuneup

The Baltimore Sun

Skating beneath the glittering statute of Prometheus at the Rockefeller Plaza ice rink in New York yesterday, Kimmie Meissner looked tiny. But she was just as golden as the Greek god.

On her whirlwind tour before returning to class at Fallston High School, Meissner, the national and world figure skating champion, performed for the Today show audience and began planning for another international competition next week.

As a tuneup for the world championships in Tokyo next month, all of the newly crowned U.S. champions - including Meissner - will be at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Meissner was not originally scheduled to compete in the event but changed her mind after winning the national title Saturday.

"I'm going to use it as a training tool," Meissner said yesterday. "Sometimes its hard to compete again right away, but I'm in pretty good shape from nationals, and I'll kick it up a notch this week in practice."

The Bel Air teen said she will perform the same long program she used at nationals, "except I'll get the levels of my spins up and maybe try the triple axel. It's a good place to test it."

Meissner has had sporadic success with the difficult 3 1/2 -revolution jump she first completed at the 2005 U.S. championships.

This season, she attempted one at the Paris Grand Prix event and at an exhibition in Boston. Her gold-medal performance at nationals came without it, but Meissner is likely to need the triple axel in Tokyo when she faces Japan's Mao Asada and Korea's Yu-Na Kim, who are jumping experts.

The competition at Four Continents will include Japan's Fumi Suguri, who was runner-up to Meissner at worlds last year, and Canadian champion Joannie Rochette, who finished fifth at the Olympics, one spot ahead of Meissner.

After the Today show, Meissner went to practice at the University of Delaware, where she worked on her long program. Although it is her favorite part of competition, it was almost her undoing at nationals.

Going into the final with a 3.03-point lead, Meissner almost fell on the opening jump, but steadied herself and held on to win by less than a point.

"I was sweating it a little," she said, laughing. "But today I skated it clean."

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