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  • Monday, March 22, 1999

    Bourne gets top marks for courage

    By NEIL STEVENS -- The Canadian Press
     HELSINKI (CP) -- Shae-Lynn Bourne is pushing through the pain.
     Her left knee has been damaged since December, but she's determined to finish her figure skating season on a high note by winning a medal at the world championship this week.
     After her ice dance practice this morning with partner Victor Kraatz, Bourne said there has been some improvement in the month since the last competition, the Four Continents meet in Halifax, which they won.
     "There's not a huge difference but it is better," she said. "It is better."
     It's a case of mind over matter.
     Next Monday in Toronto, she will visit two specialists to determine whether or not surgery is required to repair two tears at the side of the knee.
     She grimaced in pain during some of the more demanding manoeuvres during practice this morning.
     After returning to their Lake Placid, N.Y., training site from Halifax, Bourne and Kraatz took a week off.
     "That was good for it," she said of the knee. "It was really bad after Halifax.
     "Then we found easier ways to train by wrapping it and taking some of the pain away. And lots and lots of physiotherapy. So, it's stronger than it was at Four Continents. That's for sure."
     The two compulsory dances are scheduled for Tuesday, the original dance is Thursday, and the free dance is Friday.
     Bourne, 23, of Chatham, Ont., feared her season might be over when she had difficulty skating during the Canadian championship in Ottawa in January. But she and Kraatz, 27, of Vancouver won a seventh straight national title despite the handicap of the knee injury.
     Four Continents was another test. Could she stand skating in pain again? She got through it. Now they want another world medal. They've won bronze the last three years.
     "It's not going to slow us down," she said of the injury. "Right now, our energy level is really high so that's really carrying me through a lot of it.
     "The only movements that are hurting at this point are the low stuff, but it's only in the free dance that we really have to go low. And we fixed up our program to make it better. I do more things on the right leg than on the left now, and that took some of the pain off for this competition."
     Skipping the Grand Prix final in St. Petersburg, Russia, two weeks ago was a necessity if they were to compete here. There was never any thought of pulling out of the worlds, Bourne said.
     "Not at all. This was always the main event we weren't going to jeopardize. That was the reason for not going to Russia -- so we'd be OK for this. I knew that if I pushed it that week I might not be where I am right now."
     Kraatz knows what she's going through.
     "Being in a situation with a knee that hurts is very difficult," he said. "I've been there, too.
     "For her, knowing it's something that's a little more serious that doesn't heal by itself makes it a little more difficult to cope with."
     Every minute on the ice has become precious to them.
     "It's very precise," Kraatz said. "If we train one hour we'll do the best we can do within the 60 minutes we have whereas before we would work on maybe one or two things in an hour. Now it's like everything in an hour and that's everything for the day."
     Meanwhile, Canada's No. 2 dance entry, Michel Brunet, 28, of Gatineau, Que., and Chantal Lefebvre, 21, of LaSalle, Que., will try to improve on the 19th position they landed in last March in Minneapolis.
     They've had a good season, including bronze Four Continents medals.
     "It's the first year we've come to worlds in four years that we could expect good things," said Brunet. "We've been working hard all year and it's been going well all year."
     



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