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Natalia

Winter Olympics Skating News/Impressions

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I wanna move!!!! I agree that American TV coverage is less than desirable - intrusive, as you said, mawkish at times -- down to the commercials -- and, unfortunately, also very jingoistic. The first Olympics I watched gavel to gavel was the one in LA when the Russians and Cubans didn't come (1984?) and the incessant chants of USA!!! when we were beating some poor little Somalian in boxing, and gloating after each medal -- that the U.S. would probably not have won in boxing, weightlifting, and other sports had there been full participation -- turned me off. I was an American Studies major, so I understand the historical roots of our thinking of ourselves the perpetual underdog but I don't think other people do, and so this side of the coverage always makes me cringe.

I'd also like to see some of the sports that A) aren't guaranteed good ratings and B) don't have American medal winners.

I did find the opening ceremonies relatively tasteful -- I'd be interested to know how they played abroad -- and I loved the Indian dancing smile.gif (It's rather like some of the reconstructed Nijinsky "Sacre de Printemps"). As a dance person, I was glad that America was represented by a hoedown -- no mention that the music came from a ballet -- and wondered where Ballet West was? If 16,000 people auditioned to be in the dance portion, couldn't they have given a few seconds to some ballet dancers?

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I wondered about Ballet West also, Alexandra, till it occurred to me that many of the hoedown dancers just might've been from there. I like the hoedown theme - very much our heritage.

Overall, I thought the opening ceremonies were in good taste with the exception of one Bob Costa comment when the Iranian athletes came out. The camera showed George Bush and Costa called his reaction to the Iranians "stone-faced". I thought it was terribly unfair because we don't really even KNOW if Bush was looking at or reacting to the Iranian athletes. There were lots of countries' athletes parading through the arena at the time - he could've been looking at some of them or no one at all. Even if he COULD know whom Bush was looking at, Costa's remark was spurious, offensive and out of place in an opening ceremony.

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I have no TV and so have not seen the opening ceremony, but could someone please explain what hoedown is? I'm curious. smile.gif

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Estelle, "hoedown" is an American term for a group dance in American Square Dancing that gradually grows in intensity and complexity as it progresses. The original hoedowns were circle dances in rondo form, influenced by the cotillion of 18th-century social dance.

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Just finished watching the Pairs short program on Eurosport - I was very impressed! The fact that so many top skaters have to skate early in the draw probably isn't great for them but I get so nervous waiting I'm happy to have all may favourites done all at once.

1st place

Bereznaya and Sikharulidze were just breath-taking. Their SP is so lovely and lyrical, they nailed every single element and have such great speed. They had perfect unison and excellent edges througout. My only quibble is their death spiral which isn't as good as some - Elena doesn't get enough arch in her back to get really low on the ice.

2nd

Sale and Pelletier were so charismatic and confident in a tango, unafraid to use humour. I love that little moment where Jamie bounces David up and down on the ice. They have absolutely the best most original lifts. What I love about them is the individual touches they put on their elements: the extended death spirals for instance, the way the split twist are caught with Jamie's arms in the air. All the top skaters seem to be in a mad rush to catch up. The sbs triple toe-loops were not in exact unison but this is only in comparison to B&S. Jamie actually slipped and they both collapsed in a heap in the final pose but it was hilarious and almost looked like it was cleverly choreographed! And they got up with so much laughter it didn't matter anyway. I think B&S scored slightly more highly in the technical marks while S&P scored better in the presentation ones.

3rd

Shen and Zhao - wow! They have come so far in terms of artistry, though admittedly they're still some distance from the top 2. Their lines are much better, they pay more attention to the use of their arms and upper body. Technically they were fantastic - huge lateral split twist, HUGE throw triple loop. They made a major error in coming out of their side-by-side spins - I think Zhao did an extra rotation! The commentator made an interesting comment on how it was these little things, the basics that seem to let them down. That seems to be the case in top 3 Chinese pairs. I guess it's because the sport is still so new in China - they used to learn off videos! The deduction hurt their technical marks quite a bit - 5.6s I think. Their LP should be really exciting though with a quad salchow throw in the works.

4 Totmianina & Marinin

- really strong on the elements but very bland.

5 Ina & Zimmerman

- skated to Pink Floyd. This one has really grown on me. Good performance for them but some of the edges weren't very sharp. Jonathan had to really hang to onto his triple toe-loop and there was a problem with unison in their sbs spins.

6 Petrova & Tikhonov

- world champions a couple years ago but they've been overtaken by a number of pairs. Really lovely and flowing to Nutcracker but the music's been done to death.

Other notables

9 The Zhang & Zhang

- I can't believe their only 16 and 17! Every element it was like WOW! A HUGE throw followed immediately by triple toe-loops. If they'd messed up on that throw it would have cost them the jumps as well so I guess it shows how confident the two are. And their lateral split twist was again amazing - she seemed to suspend in the air before rotating. He had so much time he was able to drop his hand before catching her. And again their program had a lot of energy. Personally I would have placed them 7th but they had a tiny error, I forget where.

10 Pang & Tong

- Again, technically amazing but the spins are very weak. The music I thought was very staid and slow. The Zhangs in comparison used a very high energy program and really got the crowd behind them.

Can't wait for Monday's Pairs LP - I think it's going to be one of the most exciting ever. Out of the top three whoever wins the LP will win the gold.

[ February 10, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]

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Eurosport coverage is excellent btw! No fluff pieces to get in the way, unfussy and unbiased commentating. The downside is that it's delayed by about 7 hours but that's ok as I couldn't stay up to watch between 1 and 3am in the morning anyway. smile.gif

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Thanks for all of the information & comments. Boy, do I envy the European & Canadian viewers - we're stuck with NBC here. (Ed - You live in the right area of the USA!)I'm just tuning in now (Sunday morn),as my home computer was down. Here are general impressions on Opening Ceremonies & last night's Short Programs in Pairs - note my 'Plusses' and 'Minuses' for each point.

OPENING CEREMONIES -

+ One of the most beautiful Winter Olympics openers & (shock!) NBC showed it in-full, even showing every single country-delegation (replaying those countries that paraded during commercials)

+ PLENTY of skating & dancing! Remember how NBC cut-out the 'artsy' dance portions of the Syney ceremonies? Not here. I loved the group-skating choreography by Sarah Kawahara (also the choreographer of Michelle Kwan this year).

+ Wonderful skaters from the past (Button, Fleming, Hamilton, Hamill) carrying the torch into the stadium

+ Best Moment - When US skaterSasha Cohen gave her cell phone to Pres. Bush, who happened to be sitting beside her among the USA athletes, so that Bush could say 'hi' to her grandma!

- STUPID, ASSENINE Bob Costas commentary - not just the "stone faced" Iran quip. He was pathetic throughout, calling out several times "the temperature is now 25 degrees farenheit..." Big F***** deal!!!!

- Overall jingoistic nature but that is to be expected in this country. (Sorry - just my opinion - no offense intended!) Nobody bothered to tell NBC that the Cold War is over, e.g., making such a big deal about 'Ending the SOVIET-RUSSIAN 40-year winning streak in Pairs skating' or giving the honor of lighting the Olympic flame to the 1980 Hockey team 'Who crushed the Russians' OK - they won. And Sweden won four years ago - why not give them a hand in lighting the torch? Give me a break.

- Breaking for a commercial just as the Russians were entering the stadium; we barely got a glance at those gorgeous imperial-era coats with the tall cossack hats & the far muffs of the women. [OK - that's just my personal disappointment. smile.gif ]

PAIRS SHORT PROGRAMS -

- ALL TIME LOW this NBC coverage - only eight couples shown out of 19. I've been videotaping Olympic skating since I bought my first big clunky Beta recorder in 1980 & the number of couples shown has shrunk from virtually all teams having been shown by ABC (in 1980/84/88) to about half by CBS (1992/94/98) to this crap last night!!!

- NO, it was notshown "live" as NBC claims.All of us had the skate order. The top Russian team, B/S, were the 3rd couple to skate, in actuality. NBC showed the warm up of group one & immediately showed B/S...skipping over the first two teams.Not enough time for those two teams to have skated their programs during the one commercial that aired between the warm-up & B/S.So NBC is flat-out LYING (deceiving) the public by posting the little "live" word on the screen.

- Bob Costas showed his contempt of the arts (and modern dance in particular) when MOMIX and Pilobolus were performing as a prelude to the awarding of the medals of Women's Moguls Skiing competition. Costas assumed, when the cameras honed in on the Medals Ceremony Theater, that the medalists would appear right away. They did not; instead we were treated to about 10 minutes of modern dance & acrobatics. Then Costas' voice began to apologize to viewers for 'Sorry that this is what is on...if Siegfried & Roy comeon next, we give up!' WHAT A SLAM ON DANCE & THE ARTS!!! JERK!!!

+ On the positive side - the Russians were BREATHTAKINGLY beautiful. So were the Canadians...but,IMO, it was called corrctly (Russians 1st; Canadians 2nd) due to the superior line (long & balletic) of the Russians, their speed, & overall elegant beauty. For tomorrow night's finals, the Canadians promise to be less 'hee-haw cutesy' & will turn up the romance/elegance level to meet the Russians...it will be close, folks!

- Russians B/S's first-place standing is all the more remarkable because they had the worst draw among the top teams - and judges tend to mark conservatively at the beginning. The Russians were THAT GOOD - garnering 5.8s & 5.9s so early. Sure, the judges left a little room for the Canadians & Chinese to possibly top them, but it came of naught.

- NBC totally skipped over the #3 Russians, Petrova/Tikhonov, who were the World Champions from the year 2000, as well as my personal faves, Zagorska/Siudek of Poland, world medalists from 1999. Huh?????? What's the collective IQ of the NBC television production crew, I ask?

So it's on to the Pairs Long Program (the finals) tomorrow. Standings thus far:

1. Berezhnaia/Sikarulidze (Russia)

2. Sale/Pelletier (Canada)

3. Shen/Zhao (China)

4. Totmiamina/Marinin (Russia)

***the above 4 teams will be in the 'final warm-up group' of skaters - huge advantage, usually, as higher scores reserved for them***

5. Inna/Zimmerman

[ February 10, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Jeannie, I was livid when I heard Costas disparage the medals ceremony too. It was very rude and I think that we have to let NBC know, in no uncertain terms, our feelings. Let's fire off our letters and emails right away so that perhaps Costas might actually be reprimanded before the Olympics are over.

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The pairs short program competition was wonderful last night. I really loved the Chinese couple, Shen and Zhao. What great choreography they had! smile.gif It was so exhilarating when he threw her way up in the air and she landed perfectly from the amazing jump.

I also loved the Candian couple, Sale and Pelletier. That was so cute at the end when the fell on the ending pose after skating a flawless program. tongue.gif

The American pair, Ina and Zimmerman, did very well, I thought. It was good to see him fight so hard for that landing on the side-by-side triple toe loops.

The poor women who skated with the broken foot. She wouldn't have missed the chance to skate at the Olympics for the world. Amazing that she got through it so well!

I can't wait to see the pair's long program! Also, the Individuals. I love Timothy Gaebol. smile.gif Nice to see Todd Eldridge back as well.

[ February 10, 2002: Message edited by: ballerinaDEDG ]

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Jeannie, I love the Poles as well. They used to have the best, most inventive lifts in the game until S&P came along. But they weren't on last night. I forget where but they made 2 major errors - probably the jumps and throw which pretty much eliminated any hopes for a medal.

And I've been perusuing the skating boards - I'm aghast that the US channels didn't broadcast the Chinese. If they want fireworks then this is where they'll find them.

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I'm really nervous about the long. I just want B&S to skate clean! I have absolutely no faith anymore in their consistency! The Chinese I don't worry about at all. I don't think anyone beats them in terms of mental toughness.

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Hi!

Chiming in from Park City...it was so awesome to actually see the pairs SP live!! After hearing about the awful NBC coverage, I feel lucky to have seen all twenty (not 19) of the pairs compete, even if I was in the second to last row and couldn't see part of the rink.

The rink was disappointingly empty, especially in the beginning. I suspect that many of the empty seats were sponsor tickets and that people ate dinner before coming to the arena. We were not reinspected upon entering the arena, so unless there was a long line at security to get into the Olympic Square area, security was not a factor.

I though the audience was wonderful-cheering for all the teams, whether they skated well or not. Still way too many flashed going off-does a skater havce to get badly hurt before people figure it out??!

The people around me and I both thought that S&P would be in the lead had it not been for the splat at the end. Their tech marks were generally only .1 less than B&S, and we figured that the judges probably took .1 off for the unplanned final pose.

S&P's sbs jumps were in the part of the rink that I couldn't see, and the monitor doesn't give you the whole picture. That may have cost them another .1, and made the difference.

Overall, however, I think that S&P were/are the better pair. S&P have the "no hands" catch split-2-twist, which looked higher than B&S's last night. Also, S&P have better positions in their SBS spins, and Jame Sale's position in the landing of the throw jumps is better than Elena B's (less of a thunk, and more flow on the landing). S&P also have more technical difficulty in the lifts. Admittedly I am biased towards the Canadians, but I do think that when they skate clean, they are better than the Russians. And I think that S&P have the "program" edge in the LP, as B&S's current LP is a little to "one-note"-i.e. the music lacks variation, especially in speed.

Too bad that Scott & Dulebohn had two falls-they did beautiful SBS 3-toes in the warm-up. It looked like Tiffany landed the throw jump and then fell, so I think she must have hit a rut right after she landed. Pure and simple bad luck... Unfortunate, since the judges marked them well for presentation, an indication that a clean program technically would have put them much farther up in the standings(5th or 6th possibly).

I was sitting opposite the athletes section, and could see all the other American skater cheering for S&D and I&Z. Kristi Yamaguchi was present, as well as Kofi Annan and his wife.

SO far it's been a great trip! The first day in Park City was snowy and windy (50 mph + gusts). ONe moment you can see the road, the next you can't! We watched the opening ceremonies from a restaurant on Main St. in Park City. They've blocked the whole road off to cars, and there are tons of food tents, activities and other things to do!

Since then we've had gorgeous sunny (but cold) weather, perfect for all the outdoor events.

Cheers from Park City!

Kate

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A few notes concerning yesterday evening’s pairs short program on CBC.

Unless something horrible happens on Monday, either Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze or Salé and Pelletier will have the gold medal around their necks.

They seem to be the class of the competition. While Shen and Zhao are a thrilling team, what is considered artistry in pairs figure skating is missing in their routine. The Chinese are still just filling time and space between the jumps, spins and throws. They will probably get a LOT better. They remind me a bit of the great Japanese singles skater Midori Ito when she first burst upon the scene in Calgary. Not so much in attitude but in athleticism and almost unlimited potential.

Paul Martini, one of the CBC commentators, said that the U. S. media was putting too much pressure on Ina and Zimmerman, the leading U. S. pair, by writing and broadcasting that the Americans were favored to be on the medal podium.

One of the most heartfelt, unrehearsed but still controlled screams I have ever heard came from Barbara Underhill when the Canadian pair collapsed to the ice at the end. The CBC were their usual balanced selves in commenting on the action but they have a strong rooting interest in Salé and Pelletier.

That one lift toward the end of the Canadians' routine was the highlight of the evening for me—especially when it was shown in slow motion. They covered a lot of ice and at the very end, it looked as if she simply dove toward the ice, to be caught be her partner at the last minute. Great theater.

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I think the Canadians were in 2nd, not because of the tiny fall at the end but because the sbs jumps weren't landed in unison. I don't think they could have deducted for that fall as it isn't part of an element. B&S also position their elements differently - their jumps and throw are placed square to and right in front of the judges whereas everyone else places them on the other side of the rink at an angle so if there are any problems they can't be identified so easily. The presentation marks are more or less even.

[ February 10, 2002: Message edited by: sylvia ]

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I believe that when Sale and Pelletier fell at the end of their routine the commentators mentioned that there would not be any deductions for that. I wouldn't think that the would do that since it was not part of an element, as sylvia said.

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Great commentary, guys! Kate - you lucky gal, right there in the thick of things. Will you attend tonight's finals?

One POSITIVE note on NBC's coverage, that I forgot to mention yesterday: the very FAIR and unbiased TV commentary of Sandra Bezik & Scott Hamilton...especially Bezik, especially with regard to the Russians-vs-Canadians. Bezik corrected Hamilton, when he tried to belittle B&S's death spiral; Bezik said "No - it is perfect." Later, during the Canadians' program, either Bezik or Hamilton noted the slower speed, compared to the Russians. AND, after the Canadians' 'final flop pose' onto the ice, Bezik immediately told viewers that this would NOT result in a deduction of points (in other words, not to be used as an 'excuse' in case S/P came out of the SP in 2nd place). Very, VERY unbiased reporting by a former Canadian pairs champ herself. Hat's off to Sandra Bezik!!!

NBC did show 2 out of 3 Chinese pairs (out of a total of 8 pairs shown) - Shen/Zhao AND Zhang/Zhang (the #3 Chinese pair) were shown at about 11:15 pm, near the end of the telecast. WOW - they, too, have breathtaking throws! NBC omitted the #2 Chinese, Pang/Tong...and 11-12 others. Still fumin' about Petrova/Tikhonov and my beloved Poles (mistakes & all) not having been shown!!!

I wrote an e-mail to NBC to complain about Costas' rudeness regarding the arts/danceportion of the medals ceremony. There's an e-mail link in the NBC Olympics website, which Alexandra posted on another thread in this forum.Too, I telephoned my local NBC affiliate & spoke with a director-level staffer to voice my complaint...anyone else who was offended may want to do the same. *Last night (Sunday), in the midst of the downhill skiing, NBC broke away to show a few seconds of modern dance on the main thoroughfare in Park City...wonder if they are getting the message already?

[ February 11, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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Saturday's short program was wonderful. It was great to see B&S skate so beautifully. Salle/Pelletier were the highlight of the evening: technically strong and their tango program had great humor and panache. I really rooting for them to take the gold. The Chinese team who are currently in third place have come a long way artistically and, aside, from their out of sync side-by-side spins, their technique was excellent. I gasped at the height of their throw triple jump - WOW! All in all, it should be quite a horse race tonight.

In terms of NBC's coverage, I wish that they would let the tv audience know what music the athletes are skating to. ABC always includes the music's title, even it if is awful.

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I also sent my email complaining about Costas's comments about the dancers. I suppose Costas doesn't know that the founder of MOMIX, and one of the co-founders of Pilobolus, won an Emmy for his choreography in the closing ceremonies of the Lake Placid Olympics. That's the kind of comment Costas SHOULD have been making.

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Here's the 'skate order' for the last three groups in tonight's Pairs LPs (finals). WONDERFUL final three teams...one right after the other! No guarantee that NBC will show any of these except for the two American pairs + top three!

Source:

http://www.icecalc.com/events/owg2002/results/

(save the above link, if you're interested in obtaining all such lists, throughout the competition)

Warm-Up Group 3

12 - (place going into finals)- KAUTZ Mariana / JESCHKE Norman (Germany)

11 - SCOTT Tiffany / DULEBOHN Philip(USA)

10 - PANG Qing / TONG Jian (China)

9 - ZHANG Dan / ZHANG Hao (China)

Warm-Up Group 4

5 - INA Kyoko / ZIMMERMAN John (USA)

6 - PETROVA Maria / TIKHONOV Alexei (Russia)

7 - BERANKOVA Katerina / DLABOLA Otto (Cze)

8 - ZAGORSKA Dorota / SIUDEK Mariusz (Pol)

Warm-Up Group 5

4 - TOTMIANINA Tatiana / MARININ Maxim (Russia)

1 - BEREZHNAYA Elena / SIKHARULIDZE Anton (Russia)

2 - SALE Jamie / PELLETIER David (Canada

)3 - SHEN Xue / ZHAO Hongbo (China)

[ February 11, 2002: Message edited by: Jeannie ]

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From a non-expert's perspective, I admired Sale/Pelletier's lifts but liked the Russians' speed, placement, and presentation better overall. One thing I find a little distracting when watching the pairs: the sometimes extreme height discrepancy between the tall men and the much smaller women. I understand that's probably how it has to be because of all those lifts and throws, but sometimes it looks a little odd to me -- reminding me of Arlene Croce's description of Gelsey Kirkland partnered by Patrick Bissell : "she bobs like a paper doll at the end of his arm." One thing I do like about Sale and Pelletier is that their heights seem to be more in proportion.

I was watching the pairs competiton with other nonexperts, and the reaction to Sale and Pelletier's unromantic conclusion was interesting, and an illustration of how arcane the rules of skating judging can appear to observers. When their technical scores were announced, cries of "WHAT! They FELL!" and "The fix is in," were heard. I endeavored to explain, but nobody was buying.

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I don't like seeing the disparity in size between the men and women in pairs and agree that Sale/Pelletier are well-matched. They remind me a little of Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner, a US pair from some years back. They were well-matched in size and as a result, it was very aesthetically pleasing. Sometimes, with the couples who aren't matched in size, one gets the feeling that the man is tossing a girl, rather than woman, around. It's almost an entirely different aesthetic.

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Wow, I'm impressed that someone remembers Tai and Randy! The sign of a true skating fan smile.gif

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Re "The sign of a true skating fan "....and old age rolleyes.gif

On a serious note, I really thought that the Canadians deserved the gold medal. Stylistically they're very different from the Russians. I'd love someone with the professional eye to explain to me why Sale/Pelletier DIDN'T win it. I thought their performance was every bit as technically difficult and that they skated flawlessly. The only difference I could see is that perhaps the gold was lost in the upper body. The Russians have had port de bras training and the Canadians haven't?

It so reminded me of the Babilonia/Gardner vs. Rodnina/Zeitsev (sorry, I don't know how to spell his name)years. Irina Rodnina didn't have the balletic style of the present Russian pair but she had dazzling speed and deep edges. Babilonia and Gardner were every bit the same style skater as Sale/Pelletier and matched physically as well too. To my dying day, I'll always wonder if they could've beaten Rodnina/Zeitsev (I don't remember which Olympics) when the Americans had to pull out due to Randy Gardner's torn hamstring or groin muscle.

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ETA ROSSIYA!!!!!! Congratulations, Elena & Anton - GOLD medalists!!! My goodness, I am still giddy with excitement at the wondrous 'Thais' program & the correct result, IMO. No, Scott Hamilton, Sale/Pelletier did not skate a clean program; rewind the videotape & see Jaime Sale two-footing the final throw. All that said, Sale/Pelletier were also lovely & had the crowd on their side...but - but...as a ballet lover, I cannot help but give the edge to the sheer physical beauty of the Russians' lines. And, to top it off, Elena & Anton won despite the perceived handicap of having skated before the Canadians. And the Chinese, Shen/Zhao, went-for-broke with a quad throw that almost worked. Whew! What a great night of skating.

Congratulations to all three medalist teams. It all came down to stylistic preferences in that second mark. And David Pelletier deserves a special medal for his very gracious sportsmanship on the podium, as he gave a high-five to Anton Sikharulidze...despite less-than-gracious hooting by the rowdy crowd. David Pelletier is a true champion, too!

So NBC's touting of the "Toppling of the Russian Domination in Pairs" simply did not pan out this year. Tomorrow,look for more amazing Russians as the men's event kicks off, with Alexei Urmanov & Yevgeni Pluschenko leading the pack. Priama, priama!

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I'm still in shock about what happened last night in the pairs'competition. B&S had a beautiful program, but Anton's inability to complete the first side-by-side jump was a major error and Yelena had to fight for a couple of her landings.

S&P, on the other hand, skated flawlessly and their presentation was much more relaxed. And their program had the same degree of difficulty as the Russians.

When the ordinals came up putting S&P in second place, I was stunned. Will Olympic judges in pairs' competition *ever* allow a non-Russian team on the top of the podium? After what happened last night, I'm more doubtful than ever. Just before the medals ceremony I found myself in complete agreement with Sandra Bezic's statement that, 'I'm embarrased for our sport.'

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