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Skating: Lipinski Loses to Laetitia

November 15, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ World champion Tara Lipinski says she is learning how to come back after losing. She has to do it for the second time this year.

She was beaten Saturday by French skater Laetitia Hubert at the Lalique Trophy competition, Lipinski’s second loss of the season. Last month Michelle Kwan beat Lipinski in Skate America.

``This year I haven’t had the experience of moving up like I did last year,″ Lipinski said. ``I never expected this year to win everything. I knew I couldn’t. I didn’t want to. Once you are world champion, there is a little more pressure to stay on top.″

Todd Eldredge, nursing sore ribs, faltered on three different axel jump attempts in the men’s final and dropped to fourth overall. Alexei Yagudin, using a quadruple toe loop, won.

Lipinski won her last major three competitions last year on her way to the world title after starting the season as the second-ranked American behind Kwan.

``I’m excited about going back up and it gives me a lot of motivation for my next competition,″ Lipinski said. ``You’re in second now and you have to work up.″

After leading in the short program, Lipinski gave a lackluster performance in the final free program, cutting down two triple jumps and receiving uninspired applause and beatable marks.

Lipinski generally scored between 5.5 to 5.8 but one judge gave her as low as 5.3 for technical merit although she did five triples. The 15-year-old Lipinski said she was bothered by a cold and had trouble sleeping Friday night.

``It was the the same thing again. I got up early,″ Lipinski said. ``I was a little wobbly.″

Hubert followed Lipinski on the ice and completed five triples. She also did not make any outstanding mistakes, as Lipinski did when the American was off balance on her opening triple lutz and barely completed a double.

``I was going to do a triple-triple. I think I tried a little too hard,″ Lipinski said.

Lipinski also singled a loop on the second part of another triple-triple combination.

``I went up and it just didn’t work,″ she said.

Hubert had marks from 5.5 to 5.8 and they were enough to give her first place on the cards of five of the seven judges.

The 23-year Frenchwomen was fourth and twice sixth in the worlds but has never been better than 12th at an Olympics. Two weeks ago, Hubert was 11th at the Nations Cup in Germany.

``Last time I focused on the podium and not on my jumps,″ Hubert said. ``And look what happened.″

This time, she hit everything in her short program to be in second entering the final program, worth two-thirds of the final mark.

Vanessa Gusmeroli of France came in third. Chen Lu, the 1995 world champion who faded badly over the past year, continued her comeback with a fourth but did not do well technically, cutting down jump after jump.

In the men’s final, Eldredge failed on three different axel attempts, the move that he said was affected by his sore ribs. At Skate America he crashed and injured his shoulder but came out and won, doing five triples.

This time he only did four and the competition was tougher. He opened up on his first triple axel attempt, cutting it into a single. Less than a minute later, at exactly the same spot, he tried again and opened up again.

Although he did four triples, another double axel was badly landed. He ended up with marks of mostly 5.2 to 5.5 for the technical side. His artistic marks were only a little better, 5.4 to 5.6.

Yagudin also faltered on his first triple axel but at least he got around 3 1/2 times. Then he became one of the few skaters to do a quadruple toe loop in competition. He also added six good triples to his program to move up after winding up second in the short program behind Eldredge. All his marks were in the 5.6 to 5.8 range.

Philippe Candeloro of France in second and Igor Pashkevich of Azerbaijan was third. Russians Yelena Berezhzaya and Anton Sikharulidze, with a strong routine to ``Dark Eyes,″ edged world champions Mandy Woetzel and Ingo Steuer of Germany in the pairs event.

Both couples were using routines from last year but the Russians, trained by famed coach Tamara Moskvina, had the stronger technical work with three triple throw moves in addition to side-by-side triple jumps.

The Lalique Trophy event is one of the six Grand Prix meets leading to the champion series final Dec. 19-21 at Munich, Germany.

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