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Totmianina was motionless for five minutes

10/24/2004

PITTSBURGH -- World champion pairs skater Tatiana Totmianina
of Russia was in good condition late Saturday after falling
headfirst onto the ice during the free skate at Skate America.

Maxim Marinin had just lifted Totmianina into the air in a
one-handed lift when they lost their balance. Totmianina tumbled to
the ice as the crowd gasped.

Paramedics tended to the fallen skater, who lay motionless on
her side on the ice for a few minutes with her partner hovering
over her.

She was carried off the ice on a stretcher and taken by
ambulance to the trauma center at Mercy Hospital.

"The good news for skating fans is she's doing very well
tonight," hospital spokeswoman Beth Lawry said. Totmianina was
assessed by the hospital's chief of trauma services and admitted
overnight for observation, she said.

"We're listing her in good condition, and good is the best you
can be if you're going to stay in the hospital," Lawry said. She
declined to discuss Totmianina's condition further, citing privacy
laws.

U.S. figure skating officials said Totmianina was "stabilized
well" by an attending physician before being taken to the
hospital.

Totmianina and Marinin, in first place after the short program,
were the last couple to skate in the pairs. The competition was
halted after the fall.

Dan and Hao Zhang of China took first place in the pairs. Julia
Obertas and Sergei Slavnov of Russia were second, and Americans
Rena Indue and John Baldwin Jr. were third.

Earlier in the women's final, American Angela Nikodinov skated
to a first-place finish after completing 10 jumps while the rest of
the field fell -- literally.

Japan's Miki Ando, who led entering the free skate, fell while
attempting a quadruple salchow and a triple lutz. She ended up
third, behind Canada's Cynthia Phaneuf, who also couldn't complete
several triple jumps.

"To be able to get myself at this level and still not be at my
top, it's really going to make me better for nationals," said
Nikodinov, who skated last and finished with an overall score of
149.50.

Nikodinov is a perennial competitor. She first skated in a
senior event in 1996 and has had several top-10 finishes at Skate
America. Her longtime coach, Elena Tcherkasskaia, died in 2001 of
cancer; Nikodinov now skates with Igor Pashkevich.

"I wanted to come back and prove to (Eleanor) that I could do
it," Nikodinov said with her new coach at her side.

Ando, fighting back tears after the competition, said through an
interpreter that she was disappointed she couldn't do what she had
set out to perform. Her program was the most difficult in the free
skate, in part because of the inclusion of the quadruple jump. Ando
is the first woman to land a quadruple jump in competition.

In ice dancing, Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto won
the competition for the second straight year.

Dressed in gypsy-inspired costumes, they skated a program with
perfectly synchronized turns that brought the crowd to its feet.

"Our energy felt really good," Agosto said.

They were followed by Israel's Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski
and Canada's Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe. Both pairs said placing in
this competition gives them momentum entering Skate Canada this
week.

"It's probably one of the best performances we've given at the
beginning of the season," Lowe said.

The competition wasn't without controversy, though. The sister
and brother team of Sinead and John Kerr from Great Britain said
they would protest a decision by the technical specialist to deduct
points from them for repeating a diagonal step sequence. The duo,
who finished fifth, contended their program only has one such
sequence, and they shouldn't be penalized for repeating an element.

"As it is, the result as it stands, it wouldn't have made much
of a difference anyway," Sinead Kerr said.

Under figure skating's new scoring system, every technical
element in a program -- jumps, spins, footwork -- has a point value.
In the end, the skater with the most points wins, removing most of
the subjectivity.

On Friday, France's Brian Joubert won the men's competition.
Americans Ryan Jahnke and Michael Weiss finished second and third,
respectively.