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Monday, February 11, 2002
Updated: February 12, 3:22 AM ET
Top pairs skaters meet head on in warmups

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY -- Canadian Jamie Sale and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia called their collision during warmups for the pairs free skate Monday night a "freak accident."

Both said the crash had no effect on their performances. Sikharulidze, who had to skate only about five minutes after the crash, won the gold medal with partner Elena Berezhnaya. And Sale and partner David Pelletier took the silver.

"It really shook me up, it knocked the wind out of me," said Sale, who hurt her stomach and head in a crash she likened to a hockey bodycheck.

It really shook me up, it knocked the wind out of me. ... I looked at Dave (Pelletier) and I thought, `I'm not finished. No way.'
Jamie Sale

But after taking some time to regroup, Sale was ready to skate.

"I looked at Dave and I thought, `I'm not finished. No way."'

With about a minute to go during warmups, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze appeared to be getting ready to do a throw jump when Sale slammed into him. Sale put her hands up to try to stop, but it did little good because she was skating at full speed.

Both skaters crashed to the ice, and Sikharulidze's skate appeared to clip Sale's knee. But it was getting the wind knocked out of her that troubled Sale more, and she stayed down on her knees, her head bowed. Sikharulidze came over and put his hands on her shoulders, asking if she was OK.

"I can't say anything," Sikharulidze said when asked what happened. "I hope everything's good with Jamie. It was just a small accident."

Pelletier then came over and helped Sale up, putting his arm around her waist to guide her off the ice. The warmup session then ended, and Sikharulidze left the ice without finishing his pre-performance routine.

"I was worried about Anton and Jamie," said Tamara Moskvina, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze's coach. "I will not blame anybody in this collision, but both were affected."

It didn't look like it. When Sikharulidze came out for his program, it looked as if nothing had happened. Ditto for Sale, who had a little extra time to regroup because she and Pelletier were the second-last of the 20 couples to skate.

"Adrenaline does amazing things for you," Sale said. "I was -- as I'm sure they were -- I was in some pain in my stomach. My arms kind of started to get a little bit numb.

"So when I stepped on the ice, I just said, `I'm not giving up.' I looked at Dave and said, `This is for us and I'm not giving up."'