Friday, February 22, 2002
Two pairs teams finish hand-in-hand-in-hand ...
SALT LAKE CITY -- Finishing hand-in-hand in a spiral, the
pairs involved in one of the Olympics' biggest scandals closed a
figure skating exhibition Friday night in a show of harmony.
Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia skate with Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier as they are now linked together in history.
Russia's Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze and Canada's
Jamie Sale and David Pelletier were received warmly by the capacity
crowd at the Salt Lake Ice Center during their individual programs
and at the dramatic finish.
Gold medalist Sarah Hughes delighted the audience with a lively
exhibition to a medley from the musical "Fosse" in a sparkling
black unitard. She hit every triple jump she tried.
The 16-year-old New Yorker closed the regular portion of the
show with a tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks, skating
to "You'll Never Walk Alone."
The most emotional piece of skating went to the woman Hughes
beat less than 24 hours earlier on the same ice.
Michelle Kwan skated to Sting's "Fields of Gold." She had lost
the gold medal she was favored to win and wound up with the bronze.
However, the crowd showed that it was still behind her and Kwan
had tears streaming down her cheeks at the end.
Last week, Sale and Pelletier were given gold medals because of
judging misconduct instead of the silvers they won on the night of
the pairs long program. Sikharulidze and Berezhnaya finished first
after a 5-4 judging split.
The Canadians skated when the silver medalists are usually
scheduled. The Russians came out later, in the middle of the other
gold medalists, including Hughes.
At the end of the show, all the top skaters came out for encores -- except for the two pairs.
Then the Russians and Canadians finished together, hand-in-hand
and ending with a pairs death spiral with all four within inches of
The next competition between them could be the world
championships in Nagano, Japan, on March 18-24. However, the
couples haven't decided whether to compete.
"We'll go to the worlds if we feel we're in shape," said
Pelletier, who plans to decide next week. "But we also have to
look at the opportunities that are presented to us."
That includes an exhibition in their home of Edmonton, Alberta,
"I want to go to worlds because that's what I do," Pelletier
said. "I'm a competitor who likes to compete. But we're exhausted
and we've got to be smart."
The other Olympic champions -- Hughes, men's champion Alexei
Yagudin of Russia and ice dancers Marina Anissina and Gwendal
Peizerat of France, plan to be in Nagano.