Skater's mother killed in car accident at nationals

Updated: January 13, 2005, 10:03 PM ET
Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Instead of competing in the short program, Angela Nikodinov spent Thursday making funeral arrangements for her mother.

Dolores Nikodinov died Wednesday morning when a van carrying the family from the airport to the U.S. Figure Skating Championships struck a barrier and overturned. Nikodinov suffered abrasions, contusions and cuts to her right wrist, but didn't break any bones or damage any ligaments. Her father, Nick, has a few minor cuts.

Nikodinov's coach, Igor Pashkevich, remained hospitalized Thursday at Legacy Emanuel Hospital with a concussion. He also had a cut on his head that required stitches, and a broken bone in his neck.

Nikodinov and her father spent much of the day at a funeral home making arrangements, and hope to return to their home in San Pedro, Calif., on Friday.

"We have been spending these past hours with close friends and family members as we grieve our terrible loss," Nikodinov and her father said in a statement. "We appreciate all the love and support that we are receiving from the skating community and others. We ask that you continue to keep us in your thoughts and prayers."

U.S. Figure Skating planned to have a moment of silence before the women's short program Thursday night. Nikodinov is a two-time U.S. bronze medalist.

Figure skaters are a tight-knit bunch, and many were still in shock Thursday at the accident, the latest in a long list of hardships for Nikodinov. Her coach, Elena Tcherkasskaia, a woman to whom Nikodinov was so close she called her a second mother, died suddenly of pancreatic cancer in November 2001.

She missed much of the 2002 season with shoulder injuries. She also had to be evacuated when the wildfires that swept through Southern California in 2003 came near her training base in Lake Arrowhead, Calif.

"I feel for Angela so much," said Amber Corwin, a friend who has competed against Nikodinov for years. "It's very hard to see someone you care for so much going through so much suffering.

"We're all going to be thinking of Angela tonight."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press

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