Tuesday, February 17, 1998
Kiss fairness goodbye
They gave the Russians the gold and silver.
The French the bronze.
And the Canadians the shaft.
But the really weird part of yesterday's free-dance competition was that everyone seemed to know well in advance exactly where the top-four teams would place here at the Olympic Games.
Former Canadian dance great Tracy Wilson, now a respected commentator for CBS, was told the final order of the finish before the Games even began: Defending world and Olympic champions Pasha Grishuk and Evgeny Platov would win. The second Russian team of Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov would take second, and the French team of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat would be awarded the bronze.
Sadly for Canadian fans, the word was Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz would be placed back in fourth, and that's how it ended. It turns out they never had a chance.
Wilson was right. Canadian pairs judge John Greenwood was right. Former world pairs champion Paul Martini was right. All had heard that the order was predetermined, and they were right.
"I figured out what was going on after the first compulsory," said Natalia Dubova, the Canadian team's Russian-born coach. "It was all planned."
Bourne and Kraatz were placed a shocking fifth after the first compulsory and moved to fourth following the second. That fifth, however, ultimately sealed their fate. Even though they beat out the French team in the free dance, they fell just short of a medal.
When Dubova, who used to coach the flaky Grishuk, was told of the composition of the judging panel -- eight of the nine were European -- after last year's world championships, she figured her team was doomed to finish out of the medals at these Games.
And it did, even though the pair skated brilliantly all week and earned the loudest ovation from the normally reserved Japanese crowd last night.
Afterward, Bourne and Kraatz were remarkably composed. They came to this competition looking for the gold, they were left out in the cold. Their Riverdance program earned rave reviews all season, at least from the fans. In ice dancing, however, the fans don't count.
Bourne, 22, called the judges scoring "inhumane" but took her lumps like a champion.