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  • Tuesday, March 23, 1999

    Wirtz gets better by following orders

    By STEVE BUFFERY -- TORONTO SUN
      HELSINKI, Finland -- Kristy Sargeant lived up to her name yesterday and ordered her pairs partner, Kris Wirtz, to get his act together.
     The orders were heeded.
     
     The two-time Canadian champions skated a splendid short program at the world figure skating championships and sit fourth -- the long-awaited dream of a medal close to becoming a reality.
     A key was that Sargeant kept her normally easy-going partner relaxed and focused.
     "She has been great," said Wirtz, at 29 the oldest competitor at these world championships. "This week, she has been fighting, she has been calming the team. (Yesterday) in practice I entered a little ...
     "Bitchy," Sargeant interjected.
     "I was bitchy," Wirtz said. "Everything wasn't going exactly (as it should) the first day. I got bitchy and Kristy (reminded me) it's going to go on. This year we're going to get married and everything's going to be happy."
     Obviously he took his better half's advice to heart. Skating to Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto No. 4, the five-time world team veterans put it all together, landing a solid side-by-side opening triple toe and cruised comfortably from there, other than a cut Wirtz suffered on the chin during their double twist.
     "It's not a real competition unless he bleeds," Sargeant said of her accident-prone partner.
     The second Canadian team of Valerie Saurette and Jean-Sebastien Fecteau of Montreal were solid in their first worlds, landing all their elements, including an excellent throw triple salchow, to finish 10th. Many felt the performance merited a higher placing.
     So what did they miss?
     "Nothing," said their coach, Richard Gauthier. "It's just their first time here. Everybody else has been here before. After 20 years you know the game."
     Saurette and Fecteau were particularly impressive given that they didn't get a pass into the worlds until a week ago Thursday, when Canada's No.2 team, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, withdrew because of his wonky back.
     Russians in lead
     The Russian team of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, defending world champions, are first, followed by the rising Chinese stars Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao. Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek of Poland are third. The long will be held tomorrow.



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