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Chouinard Best in Women’s Short Program

February 9, 1996

OTTAWA (AP) _ Josee Chouinard botched her jump combination, yet so impressed the judges with the difficulty and artistic quality of her short program that she was awarded first place Thursday night at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships.

She can add momentum to her comeback season Friday night by winning the free skate and taking her fourth overall title.

Jennifer Robinson and Cathy Belanger were second and third, respectively, in the two-minute program.

Chouinard, 26, was preferred by six judges on the nine-judge panel, even though her triple lutz-double toe loop combo cost her deductions on the technical side. She had to put a hand down on the lutz landing to regain her balance and there was too long a gap before she tried the double-revolution jump. The technical marks suffered, but she was given high marks, including three 5.9s of a possible 6.0 on the artistic side to lift her to the top.

``I lost a little bit of my focus on the combination,″ she said. ``In the middle of it, I was going, `What am I doing?′

``But I got everything back together after that. I love to perform this program, so I can’t wait to do it again.

``I was looking for a 6.0, but I couldn’t get it with that (poor combination).″

Chouinard was national champion in 1991, 1993 and 1994 and twice finished as high as fifth at world meets. She was off the International Skating Union scene last season. She skated professionally, then decided to take one more shot at winning a world medal. She started her comeback last autumn by winning a bronze medal at Skate Canada and taking gold at a meet in France.

The short program was worth one-third of the total score.

Robinson, 19, cleanly landed the required combo, doing a triple lutz-double toe loop. She’d never before cleanly landed a triple lutz in a short program in competition.

``I feel great,″ Robinson said after laying down a program many in the crowd of 8,000 in the Civic Centre felt would put her in first place. ``It’s always nice to do a good performance like that after coming off a poor warmup like the one I had.

``I felt ecstatic when I finished. I looked into the crwod and saw my dad out of the corner of my eye. It was great, almost overwhelming.″

Belanger, 21, was sixth at nationals last year after placing ninth in 1994.

Robinson won the silver medal last winter behind Netty Kim of Toronto. Kim was eighth Thursday night, ending any hopes of repeating as national champion.

``I’ve skated better,″ Kim said. ``I was a little more tense than I would have liked to have been.″

Susan Humphreys of Edmonton, who won the bronze medal last year, was

fourth going into the free-skating final. She fell on landing a triple flip, wiping out her required combo.

Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz got off to an excellent start in their quest for a fourth consecutive Canadian ice dance title.

Bourne and Kraatz received top marks for their two compulsory dances, with Chantal Lefebvre and Michel Brunet second, and Janet Emerson and Steve Kavanagh third among 13. The original dances will be performed Saturday and the free dances are Sunday.

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