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  • Wednesday, January 27, 1999

    Flu hits European Championships

  • Results

    By COLLEEN BARRY -- Associated Press
     PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- World and European pairs champions Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze withdrew from the European Figure Skating Championships just before the final free program Wednesday after Berezhnaya was diagnosed with the flu.
     The Olympic silver medal winners led after the short program and were virtually assured of repeating as champions.
     Their withdrawal all but ended Russian hopes of sweeping the championships, as they did the last two years.
     Three Russian women led the qualifying round Wednesday, the Russian men were one-two-and-three going into Thursday's final, and Russian champions Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov topped the dance standings after the compulsory Ravensburger Waltz and Tango Romantica.
     The flu may turn out to be the real wild card in these championships.
     French pairs skater Stephane Bernadis didn't show for a news conference after he and partner Sarah Abitbol finished second in the short Monday because of flu symptoms. And in the women's competition, Viktoria Volchkova complained of a fever as she left the ice, though she skated strongly enough to finish second in her group, behind defending champion and teammate Maria Butyrskaya.
     Other competitors and judges also complained of feeling ill.
     The Russian pair's coach, Tamara Moskvina, said Berezhnaya became ill suddenly.
     "We are used to competing at all cost," Moskvina said. "But we didn't think it appropriate to put her health at risk."
     The pair's absence will leave room higher on the podium for Germany's Peggy Schwarz and Mirko Mueller, who were third after the short. Schwarz was the only skater in the competition to have participated in Europeans last time they were in Prague, in 1988, finishing third with partner Alexander Konig.
     Earlier, much earlier, Butyrskaya led the qualifying round, having drawn the disdained first slot among a field of 35 skaters.
     By 11 a.m., the Russian had completed an elegant long program in the qualifying round, hours before most elite skaters' circadian clocks are set to deliver championship performances.
     "I didn't know where I was, if I was in a dream," Butyrskaya aid.
     If she had been, the six-time Russian champion would have been dressed for it, all in white, to complement the classic program emphasizing her grace and elegant spirals and spins, one with her arms clasped uniquely behind her back.
     For the first time, new International Skating Union rules count the qualifying round toward the final score, leaving little room for emotionless, technically correct run-throughs by skaters assured of finishing in the top 30.
     But getting the competitive juices flowing early in the day was only part of the problem. Judges can't squander all of their 5.9s and 6.0s on the first skater, even on the European champion and world bronze medalist, on the chance another competitor will merit distinction later.
     Butyrskaya hit just five triple jumps -- just as many as 17-year-old teammate Julia Soldatova who led the other qualifying group, and one more than 16-year-old Volchkova -- winning technical marks averaged a solid, if unimpressive 5.6.
     "I haven't been marked 5.6 for so long," she said, ruefully.
     Still, the performance endured as the best in two rounds qualifying 30 skaters for the short program Friday and the free on Saturday.


     PRAGUE, Czech Republic (AP) -- Results Wednesday of the European Figure Skating Championships at Prague Sports Hall:
     Final Standings
     1. Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, Russia, 3.5 factored placings.
     2. Dorota Zagorska and Mariusz Siudek, Poland 4.0.
     3. Sarah Abitbol and Stephane Bernadis, France, 4.0.
     4. Peggy Schwarz and Mirko Mueller, Germany, 6.5.
     5. Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, Russia, 7.5.
     6. Yulia Obertas and Dmitri Palamarchuk, Ukraine, 9.0.
     7. Katerina Berankova and Otto Dlabola, Czech Republic, 11.0.
     8. Tatiana Chuvaeva and Viacheslav Chiliy, Ukraine, 13.0.
     9. Evgenia Filonenko and Igor Marchenko, Ukraine, 13.5.
     10. Olga Bestandigova and Josef Bestandig, Slovakia, 16.5.
     11. Ekaterina Danko and Gennadi Emeljenenko, Belarus, 17.0.
     12. Inga Rodionova and Alexander Anichenko, Azerbaijan, 17.5.
     13. Marian Kautz and Norman Jeschke, Germany, 20.0.
     14. Maria Krasiltseva and Arten Znachkov, Armenia, 22.0.
     15. Milena Marnovitch and Stoyan Kazakov, Bulgaria, 22.5.
     Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikarulidze, Russia, WD.
     (Top 15 in each group advance to short program)
     Group A
     1. Maria Butyrskaya, Russia, .4 factored placings.
     2. Viktoria Volchkova, Russia, .8.
     3. Diana Poth, Hungary, 1.2.
     4. Julia Lautova, Austria, 1.6.
     5. Julia Lawrenchuk, Ukraine, 2.0.
     6. Elene Liashenko, Ukraine, 2.4.
     7. Julia Sebastyen, Hungary, 2.8.
     8. Alisa Drei, Finland, 3.2.
     9. Zuzana Paurova, Slovakia, 3.6.
     10. Viktoria Dytrtova, Czech Republic, 4.0.
     11. Sanna Maija Wiksten, Finland, 4.4.
     12. Valeria Trifancova, Latvia, 4.8.
     13. Anna Dimova, Bulgaria, 5.2.
     14. Klara Bramfeldt, Sweden, 5.6.
     15. Ubgruda Snieskiene, Lithuania, 6.0.
     16. Salome Chigogidzze, Georgia, 6.4.
     Group B
     1. Julia Soldatova, Russia, .4.
     2. Vanessa Gusmeroli, France, .8.
     3. Sabna Wojtala, Poland, 1.2.
     4. Tanja Szewczenko, Germany, 1.6.
     (tie) Eva-maria Fitze, Germany, 2.0.
     6. Laetitia Hubert, France, 2.4.
     7. Julia Vorobieva, Azerbaijan, 2.8.
     8. Silvia Fontana, Italy, 3.2.
     9. Marion Krijgsman, Netherland, 3.6.
     10. Olga Vassiljeva, Estonia, 4.0.
     11. Kaja Hanevold, Norway, 4.4.
     12. Dorotheee Derriotte, Belgium, 4.8.
     13. Christel Borghi, Switzerland, 5.2.
     14. Idora Hegel, Croatia, 5.6.
     15. Helena Pajkovic, Yugoslavia, 6.0.
     16. Marta Serna, Spain, 6.4.
     17. Anna Chatiathanassi, Greece, 6.8.

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