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  • Sunday, March 21, 1999

    Qualifiers come into play at world figure skating championship

     HELSINKI (CP) -- For the first time at a world figure skating championship, singles qualifying sessions will be worth 20 per cent of the total mark.
     It used to be worth nothing, and was used only to chop the worst skaters from increasingly lengthy entry lists. Now it's kind of like judging the pre-game warmups at an NHL game and awarding one team a 1-0 lead when the real game starts.
     "It doesn't make any sense," says three-time world champion Elvis Stojko.
     There'll be less coasting by the top skaters under the new qualifying system.
     "I'm going to talk to (choreographer) Uschi (Keszler) and (coach) Doug (Leigh) about it and decide how I want to play it now that it's worth 20 per cent," Stojko said. "It's not like a long program that's a walk in the park now.
     "You've got quads and triple Axels. You've got to hold back a little bit but still push because it's worth something. You have to plan a little bit."
     Stojko planned on a quiet dinner tonight with family and coaches to celebrate his 27th birthday.
     The men's qualifying is today. The short programs, worth 30 per cent, will be presented Tuesday. The free-skating final is Thursday.
     ------
     Canadian women's champion Jennifer Robinson arrived at 9 a.m. Sunday morning after an overnight flight. She was too late for a scheduled 6 a.m. women's singles practice, but she showed up at the arena during the afternoon to watch teammates practice. She has to wait until 8:15 p.m. local time tonight to get onto the ice for a practice.
     "It was all planned," Robinson kiddingly said about missing the early-morning session.
     Her event does not begin until Wednesday.
     ------
     Shae-Lynn Bourne appeared in practice Sunday to still be bothered by a sore leg that forced her and dance partner Victor Kraatz out of the Grand Prix final two weeks ago. The event begins Tuesday with two compulsory dances.
     ------
     Three Canadians were selected as judges.
     Jane Garden is judge No. 1 of pairs today.
     Susan Blatz is on a panel for one of the two men's singles qualifying sessions today.
     Elizabeth Clark will judge the first compulsory dance Tuesday, then her name goes into a hat to determine a panel for the event's second phase.
     
     


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