On the upswing
Pairs skating shows improvement since NaganoPosted: Monday February 11, 2002 2:36 PM
Updated: Monday February 11, 2002 4:32 PM
Mark A. Lund, publisher of International Figure Skating, is covering the Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. To read more about the sport of figure skating, please check out http://www.ifsmagazine.com.
Question: What do you feel was the overall quality of the pair skating on Saturday evening?
Lund: For the top five teams, it was actually quite good. Once you get under the top five, the quality was quite inferior. Certainly the top five the quality was excellent.
Q: It appears this is the best pair skating competition since the 1988 Winter Olympics, with Gordeeva & Grinkov. Quite a number of clean programs and good skates. What are your overall thoughts?
Lund: Judging from what we saw in the short program, pair skating is on the upswing. You can certainly see the quality has improved dramatically since Nagano in 1998.
Lund: The highlight we're going to see is the battle for first place between the Russians, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, and the Canadians, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. Those two teams are vying for the gold medal. I think the other three teams -- Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao of China, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin of Russia and Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman of the United States -- can finish anywhere between third, fourth and fifth.
Q: So the battle for the gold medal comes down to Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze (first after the short program) and Sale and Pelletier (currently second)?
Lund: Absolutely the gold medal battle lies with the Russians and Canadians. There's really no other team that I can see that is going to take one of those two teams out.
Q: Do you think the Canadians are feeling stressed by the spill they took at the end of their short program?
Lund: Had they not fallen, they may have gotten first place because they are the reigning world champions.
Q: People have said that Sale and Pelletier have taken their problems on the ice into their personal lives and then back onto the ice. How do they need to block out personal distractions and seize this moment?
Lund: The bottom line is they are an off-ice couple, and they're going to have to address that issue especially with the media, because media are curious, people are curious. Spectators want to know what's going on. They clearly have some relationship issues they bring into their figure skating. These matters need to be addressed. Personal issues need to be left at home. And skating issues need to be left on the ice.
Q: We've heard a lot about the drama of Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze's relationship. Are they looking stable there? Does everything seem calm in Salt Lake City?
Lund: The Russians in general, all their entire world -- their country, their economy -- is always in a state of turmoil. Their lives are always like that. Standard course for the Russians. As for this pair, we know Anton likes to go out and have fun. We know Elena had this sunburn. This is just them. But when the pressure gets on to them, they know how to seize the moment, get themselves together and just do it.
Q: What should we look for this evening in terms of technical innovations?
Lund: I don't think we're going to see anything too unusual tonight. It will be pretty much what we've been seeing throughout the entire season. They're going to take some risks, but they're not going to take too many risks to fall out of medal contention.
We know what they're capable of. No one wants to lose.
Q: What can we expect from the Americans, Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman?
Lund: They can hope for a fourth place. I really don't see a third, but anything is possible with a great performance.
They're skating with much more unison. They're in much more harmony with each other. They've trained very hard for this. They're both focused and in sync. Anything is possible.