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  • Thursday, March 25, 1999

    French move into first in ice dance

    BY SALVATORE ZANCA -- Associated Press
     HELSINKI, Finland (AP) -- The French duo of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat captured the original dance and moved into first place of the ice dance event today at the World Figure Skating Championships.
     Russian champions Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov were second but in a virtual tie for first. The decision will go down to the final free dance on Friday.
     Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz of Germany were third. Even if they win the free dance, if one of the other top two couples comes in second, that couple would win the title.
     Three-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan, meanwhile, got a rest today as her coach, Frank Carroll, toys with whether to have Kwan practice for Friday's short program, the next part of the women's competition.
     "We need the time," Carroll said. "We plan to skate tougher ... we have some decisions to make."
     Kwan came down with a head cold while flying to the Finnish capital and its effects, combined with those of the antibiotics she's taking, made it hard to get out of bed.
     She woke up 1 hour, 20 minutes before she went through her qualification session, yet hit six triple jumps with grace and easily won her group.
     Her main challengers, Maria Butyrskaya and Tatiana Malinina, were first and second in their section, with three and four triples, respectively. And with nowhere near the polish Kwan had.
     "I felt a little tired in my program, but thought, 'One thing at a time,' " Kwan said.
     Kwan did not make any errors, but did only a triple-double combination and cut down another triple to a double lutz.
     "My jumps seemed solid but I could have done better," Kwan said.
     In pairs, China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo had a repertoire of powerful throws, lifts and jumps. The music from the movie "Mulan" matched their power, with dynamic drums and fanfares.
     The Russians skated to a wordless Coloratura Soprano piece, delivering a soft, delicate performance.
     Although Berezhnaya fell on a double axel, it was their only error. They quickly swung back into the mood of soft skating, featuring elegant lines and extension in lifts, as opposed to the Chinese couple's fast-paced series of jumps.
     The Russians were rewarded with a string of 5.9s for presentation. The best the Chinese could do were four 5.9s for technical merit.
     That meant a 7-2 advantage for the Russians from the panel of nine judges.
     It was the 29th gold medal for couples from the former Soviet Union or Russia, all since 1965.
     Third went to Dorota Zagorska and Marius Siudek of Poland, the top three positions not changing from Monday's short program.
     Meanwhile, the men finish their competition tonight with the free skate -- following the original dance to the waltz rhythm.
     The Russians are leading in both events.
     The men's gold medal almost certainly will be decided between defending champion Alexei Yagudin and compatriot Yevgeny Plushenko.
     Elvis Stojko, the three-time world champion, is currently in third, with a slight chance to win. The top two Russians both must do poorly enough to allow Stojko and others to beat them in the free skate, worth 50 percent of the final score.
     Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov resume competition in the ice dance after a day of rest. They won the compulsory portion on Tuesday.

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