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  • Friday, March 31, 2000

    Russians beat Kwan in short program

    By SALVATORE ZANCA -- Associated Press

      NICE, France -- Maria Butyrskaya won the short program at the World Figure Skating Championships today, beating Russian compatriot Irina Slutskaya and Michelle Kwan.

      The Russians skated clean programs, with Butyrskaya's artistry overcoming Slutskaya's superior jumping. Kwan, with a slight bobble on a triple flip, was third.

      Both Russians have beaten Kwan in the past year -- Slutskaya at the Grand Prix Final and Butyrskaya at last year's worlds.

      Heading into Saturday's final program, either Russian can win if she wins the free skating. For Kwan to win overall, she has to win the free and hope that Butyrskaya finishes third or worse no matter what Slutskaya does.

      In the short program, Butyrskaya's routine to a Sarah Brightman song was expressive and full of masterful choreography. It included an optional jump of a triple loop that was slightly less difficult than the triple flip of Slutskaya.

      Butyrskaya's presentation marks were 5.8s and 5.9s. Slutskaya had mostly 5.8s.

      Slutskaya's routine to "Apassionata" was almost as brilliant, lacking only the little finishing gestures of Butyrskaya.

      Kwan, skating to "A Day in the Life" by the Beatles, had trouble holding her landing on the triple flip, a jump she changed since the U.S. Championshps instead of doing the easier triple toe loop. Both Russians have been doing the triple flip all season.

      Kwan's technical marks reflected the shaky landing, earning only 5.6s and 5.7s. Her presentation marks were 5.7 to 5.9.

      "I made a little bobble after the triple flip, but I am glad I went for it," Kwan said.

      "One jump was not the quality she is capable of," Kwan's coach, Frank Carroll, said. "And when you are up against skaters of the standard of Maria and Irina you cannot open a door even a little."

      Sarah Hughes of the United States was fourth. At 14, she is the youngest competitor at these championships.

      "I spun fast, I jumped fast," Hughes said. "I do what I put out there and that's all I ask for."

      It was a major improvement for her. She was only 10th in the short program last year before moving up to seventh overall.

      The ice dance final was to be held later today. Italians Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio led favored Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat of France.

      Thursday, Alexei Yagudin gave Russia its second gold medal of the championships, winning the men's singles title for the third straight time. Yagudin hit two quads when he needed them the most.

      Elvis Stojko of Canada, a previous three-time winner, finished second and Michael Weiss of the United States was third.



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