Kimmie cashes, Joannie jolted

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:13 AM ET

CALGARY -- A star was born.

But it wasn't Rocket Rochette.

On the final day of a largely forgettable World Figure Skating Championships, 16-year-old American Kimmie Meissner, who finished one place back of Canada's Joannie Rochette at the Torino Olympic Winter Games, skated the lights out to win gold.

Rochette, who finished fifth at Torino 2006, went from first after the compulsory program to fifth after the short and ended up seventh.

"I'm so disappointed,'' she said after taking a minute to compose herself after leaving the Kiss & Cry where she battled not to cry. Wiping away tears, which came to her eyes after she headed to the mixed zone, Rochette braved it out.

"It didn't happen,'' she said.

She didn't see Meissner skate.

She just heard the response.

"It was really tough skating after such a great performance. Behind the curtain I could hear the crowd. You can hear everything even if you don't want to. I think that made me not as confident,'' said Rochette.

First up in the final flight was American Sasha Cohen.

This was supposed to be Cohen's worlds, but the Olympic silver medallist fell, two-footed another jump, bailed out of the back end of two scheduled combinations and struggled throughout her seriously-flawed program.

Meissner followed with a perfect seven triples in a brilliant skate to beat her personal best by 16 points and end up beating Cohen 218.33 to 208.88 in the new scoring system.

Fumie Suguri of Japan skated next and slid in for the silver at 209.74.

Then Rochette went out there, fell on her second jump, a triple Lutz, then popped a triple loop and triple Lutz.

"It was more mental than physical even though I'm tired after the Olympics. It was more a mental thing today.

SO LOUD AND SO GREAT

"That crowd was so loud and so great in welcoming me, it was hard for me not to think.

''This is the first time in my life I've been out there with all these girls,'' she said of the six women in the final flight. "I don't need to think when I'm out there.''

With the super story Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon wrote the night before in winning silver in dance, Rochette didn't have to worry about preventing a second shutout in the history of Canada's World Figure Skating Championship hostings.

Indeed, she was set up to complete the double of a two-medal worlds for the first time since Elvis Stojko won gold and Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz won bronze at the 1997 worlds in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"The top girls, I know I can compete with them,'' said Rochette. "Before this competition I didn't really believe I belonged in that group. Even though I wasn't where I wanted to be today, I know I belong with them now and that I can come back and be even stronger.''

As World Figure Skating Championships go, this one went quietly until Meissner made her magic.

NOT MUCH GREAT SKATING

The stars didn't show.

None of the Olympic gold medallists were here.

And those who did show, drained from the Olympics, didn't give the world a great deal of great skating.

The largest crowd of the week - a mere 9,843 - took in the women's event in the 19,289-seat Saddledome.

The overall numbers paled compared to the record breaking 1996 Edmonton worlds, which drew 136,800 with four fewer (qualifying) performances, or the Vancouver worlds five years ago, which also sold out an NHL rink.

With seven of the 12 medal winners from the Olympics no-shows and scaling all-event ticket packages at $950, $895, $595 and $395, you deserve a disaster.

While it looked like a disaster, it didn't always feel like one.

The small crowds were still able to create that special Canadian experience where skaters from all nations felt like they were skating at home.

O.K.. All nations except France.

The French dance duo was greeted with silence four years after the French judge was fingered in the fixing of the Salt Lake Olympics against Canada's Jamie Sale & David Pelletier in pairs to gain Russian support in the dance.

Some of us will remember that as a highlight of Calgary 2006.

There weren't that many.


Videos

Photos