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Kostner Stumbles; Marchei Shines at Italian Nationals

Valentina Marchei upset Carolina Kostner over the weekend to win the Italian ladies title. Koster went into this season with high hopes of turning things around after a subpar 2008-09 season that saw her lose her European title (she won that crown in 2007 and 2008) and land well of the podium in 12th place at the 2009 World Championships one year after winning the silver.

The highlights of Kostner's 2008-09 season were winning her fifth Italian title and her second straight Grand Prix Final bronze medal.

When the season ended Kostner decided to make a coaching change. She had spent eight years working with Michael Huth in Oberstdorf, Germany. She moved to the United States to work with Frank Carroll in California last summer. Going into the Grand Prix season, Kostner told IFS:“I am excited to start and get into the new season.”

Kostner has struggled mightily this season. She did not earn a place at the Grand Prix Final and over the weekend, she lost her national title.

Kostner has won her first Italian title in the 2002-03 season, claimed silver a year later and won the title every year after with the exception the 2007-08 title when she withdrew from the competition.

This year, Kostner only landed one clean triple in each of her two programs. In her free skate, she made two costy errors with a fall on one jump and touching dowm her hand on another.

Marchei stepped up for the occasion and landed three clean triples in her long program to win her second national title; the other came in 2007-08 when Kostner did not compete. Last year Marchei was fourth at the competition. At the 2007 European Championships, she scored her highest placement at an ISU Championship: fifth

Italy only has one spot for ladies at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Kostner’s result puts her participation in jeopardy although her country’s skating federation could chose to send her over Marchei based on other factors. Italy will announce it Olympic team after the 2010 European Championships, which will be held Jan. 18-24 in Tallinn, Estonia.

At the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Kostner carried the Italian flag in the opening ceremony. She went into the Games as the reigning World bronze medalist but the pressure of the event was too much and she placed ninth.

Kostner told IFS this summer that what pushed her to make a coaching change was that she did not want to have any regrets. “There is nothing worse than an athlete who works very hard and has regrets," she said.

In all, Italy has six berths to Vancouver: Along with one ladies spot, it has two men spots, one pairs berth, and two ice dance spots.

In the men’s discipline at Italian nationals, European silver medalist Samuel Contesti won his third consecutive title. He landed seven triples in the free skate and scored a 30-point margin of victory.

Nicole Della Monica and Jannich Kocon won their second Italian pairs championships. In ice dance, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali won their eighth Italian title. Anna Cappellini and Luca LaMotte placed second.