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  • Thursday, March 25, 1999

    Triples Kwan's medicine

    By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun
      HELSINKI, Finland -- Tired, jet-lagged and chock full of antibiotics, American Michelle Kwan made the rest of the field look sick.
     The two-time world champion landed six triples with ease to earn scores ranging from 5.5-5.9. And although she made a couple of minor mistakes, cutting out two triples, the Torrance, Calif., native finished well ahead of everyone in her field during the women's qualifying round yesterday at the world figure-skating championships.
     Kwan, 18, appeared a little sluggish at times because of a severe head cold, but her technical prowess and exquisite artistry made the difference, earning first-place scores from all seven judges.
     But it was really her two spiral sequences that separated the woman, in this case, from the girls.
     Qualifying first in group B was defending world bronze medallist Maria Butyrskaya of Russia. The top 15 from each made it into tomorrow's short program.
     
     ROBINSON LOOKS IMPROVED
     Canada's Jennifer Robinson was almost as good with the flips as she was with the quips and qualified with a respectable eighth-place showing in her group. The Windsor native's goal is to improve dramatically from her disastrous 21st-place showing at her previous worlds, the 1996 competition in Edmonton.
     "In Edmonton, man, I was like two different people," said the personable skater. "I'm a schizophrenic ... and so am I."
     Robinson's scores were all over the map, from 4.4 to 5.5, and her coach, Michelle Leigh was a somewhat baffled, but the skater, who landed four triples, accepted the marks with grace.
     "I have the same sense of humour, but I've grown up a bit," the Mariposa club skater said. "I'm sure at my previous worlds I would have been upset with the marks, but now I can accept the fact I made mistakes.
     "It's just really great to be back here."
     American Sarah Hughes, 13, the youngest competitor at this meet, qualified fourth in her group.



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