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    Monday, February 9, 1998

    Canadian pair burned by fever

    By STEVE BUFFERY -- Toronto Sun

      This is not what Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon had in mind when they told her to catch Olympic fever.
     She caught it all right.
      The Quebec figure skater could barely make it through yesterday's short program at the beautiful White Ring Arena after waking up in the morning with a high fever and stomach cramps.
     Apparently, a nasty bug is making the rounds in the athletes' village and Savard-Gagnon, 25, couldn't get out of her sickbed the day before the short program.
     "It came on just like that. We were able to give her Tylenol, without codeine, to break her fever," said Marijane Stong, who choreographs the programs for Savard-Gagnon and her pairs partner Luc Bradet. "And we bathed her head all afternoon with cold clothes. It's just one of those things."
     The result, under the circumstances, was a decent 12th-place performance for the first-time Olympians.
     So while they may have won the battle of just being able to skate, the pair, dressed in military-style garb, probably lost the war and will not be factor in Tuesday's long program. Savard-Gagnon two-footed her triple and obviously was hurting throughout the short, which slowed progressively.
     The other Canadian team in the competition, defending national champions Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz, didn't fare much better. Sargeant, 24, fell during the side-by-side triple toe, an important required element, and the Montreal-based team placed 11th. The team's coach Paul Wirtz said that was the first time in four years the Red Deer, Alta., native missed that jump in a short program.
     It was a disappointment considering that the engaged and often engaging couple was hoping for a top-five finish. A brilliant long program tomorrow may move the duo up a couple notches, but that's about it.
     The Russian pair of Artur Dmitriev and Oksana Kazakova, defending world bronze medallists, skated a smart short to take first place, followed by 1997 world champions Mandy Wotzel and Ingo Steuer of Germany and the Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharuldize.
     The placement of the second Russian team sent waves of indignation through the U.S. camp. Sikharuldize, 21, fell during his required triple, yet the team managed to hold on to third heading in the long program, ahead of the popular U.S. duo, Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen, who skated a flawless short and were placed fourth.
     Ina and Dungjen said all the proper things afterward, but coach Peter Burrows wasn't as forgiving.
     "They must have been judging a different event," the New York-based coach said.
     Ina, 25, is particularly popular here. The New Jersey student was born in Tokyo and once competed for Japan as a junior. The name Kyoko is synonymous with Olympic sport in Japan. Her grandfather was on the 1924 Japanese track team (5,000 and 10,000 metres), her grandmother competed at Wimbledon and her mother was the Asian Games swimming champion.