Totmianina was motionless for five minutes

Updated: October 24, 2004, 10:49 AM ET
Associated Press

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.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press