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Cohen takes lead; penalty all but ends Kwan's world title bid

By Wire services
Published March 27, 2004

DORTMUND, Germany - A costly penalty to Michelle Kwan left Sasha Cohen with visions of her first world title.

Kwan's bid for a sixth title at the World Championships all but ended Friday when she was penalized for a short program that officials said ran two seconds too long.

The rare call helped Cohen move into the overall lead and dropped Kwan to fourth with the long program remaining.

"There is going to be a lot of talk about two seconds," Kwan said. "But it's over."

Cohen skated the same jumps as Kwan, but with a fire no other competitor could match.

"I wanted it so badly today, that's why I skated aggressively," Cohen said.

Kwan turned in a cautious performance. She executed all her elements, including a triple-double jump combination and another triple, but her technical marks were low - 5.1 to 5.8. Her artistic marks were 5.6 to 5.9.

Referee Jan Hoffmann told U.S. team leaders that Kwan's program to The Feeling Begins lasted 2 minutes 42 seconds, two seconds too long. The violation requires a 0.1 deduction on each mark.

The U.S. team filed a protest asking for a review of the program's timing.

"All week long, Michelle Kwan's music has been timed at 2:40. Our question is, how then can the timing be off in the performance?" said Chuck Foster, U.S. Figure Skating president.

Officials say after the music ended she skated two additional seconds before her final pose.

Cohen's skated to Malaguena, earning four perfect 6.0 marks for artistry. Her technical marks ranged from 5.6 to 5.9.

"I'm much more confident than a year ago. I have the feeling that I can make it," Cohen said.

Long regarded as the best female skater of her era, Kwan tied the U.S. record for world titles held by 1960 Olympic champion Carol Heiss with her victory in 2003. But she has little hope of winning a sixth title in today's free skate.

Japan's Shizuka Arakawa and national champion Miki Ando were second and third, respectively. Both did triple-triple jump combinations.

Also, Russia claimed its third gold medal of the competition when Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov won the ice dance title with an array of perfect 6.0 scores. Bulgaria's Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski were second and U.S. champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto finished fifth.

[Last modified March 27, 2004, 02:10:29]

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