March 23, 2006

Swiss Lambiel skates to gold, America’s Lysacek gets bronze

By Steve Keating

CALGARY (Reuters) - Switzerland's Stephane Lambiel held his
nerve and successfully defended his world figure skating title
on Thursday, seeing off a determined challenge from Frenchman
Brian Joubert.

The last skater onto the Saddledome ice, Lambiel produced a
pressure-packed error-free skate that earned him top marks and
an overall winning total of 274.22, the 21-year-old Swiss
adding a second world championship title to the Olympic silver
medal he won in Turin.

Joubert took the world silver for the second time in his
career with a personal best total of 270.82 while American Evan
Lysacek recovered from an eighth place finish in the short
program to take the bronze for the second consecutive year with

Canada's Emanuel Sandhu was fourth followed by Japan's
Nobunari Oda in fifth.

"I'm so happy with this title," said Lambiel. "I competed,
I fought, I was very confident and my goal today was to skate
for myself.

"I had to push myself harder and harder and that's why I
did this job. I just thought about my skating and nothing


Skating to the music from 'The Matrix', Joubert threw down
the challenge to the Swiss with a power-packed performance that
was full of action from start to finish.

The Frenchman opened with a quadruple toe loop, triple toe
loop combination and added six more triples and quadruple
Salchow for good measure earning a personal best score of
270.83 points from the judges and standing ovation from the

"My performance was great," said Joubert, sixth at the
Turin Olympics. "I am very emotional because it was very
difficult for me to come here after the Olympics.

"Returning to France after the Olympics was very difficult
because the French media were very hard on me and my family.

"I went back to my Matrix program just a couple of days
after the Olympics and my jumps were perfect.

"If I had known I could skate to The Matrix like I did
tonight, I should have returned to it sooner."

Lambiel, however, was up to Joubert's challenge, hitting
back with a far more elegant but no less brilliant performance
that also contained a pair of quadruple jumps and seven

Skating to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons," there was no mistaking
the quality of Lambiel's performance, the crowd and the Swiss
sensing victory, punching his fists into the air in delight
with his effort.

The judges too were impressed, but just enough to put
Lambiel in front of the Frenchman, who had won over the
audience with wildly entertaining short and long programs to
blockbuster movie themes.

The result was particularly satisfying for Lambiel, who
very nearly decided not to compete in Calgary because of a sore

"I made the decision to come here just 10 days ago," said
Lambiel. "It was very important for me to come here because the
2010 Winter Olympics will be in Vancouver.

"So I wanted to skate here in Canada. I'm very proud I came
here and competed."