Winter Olympics 2002 Winter Olympics 2002


Double the quality

Posted: Tuesday February 12, 2002 4:28 PM
Updated: Wednesday February 13, 2002 11:10 AM

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

Question: What happened in the pairs final last night?

Mark Lund: The top two teams both skated very well. But it appeared to everyone except five of the nine judges that the Canadians, Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, were superior.

Q: What was the mood in the building?

Lund: The Canadians had the audience mesmerized. This isn't the easiest building to perform in, because the audience seating is so far up from the ice, but Sale and Pelletier were totally in tune with the spectators.

Q: What about the gold medalists, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia?

Lund: They were very good. No one can dispute that. But good as in silver medalists.

Q: What was the deciding factor in giving the gold to the Russians?

Lund: It may have been politically motivated. One of the judges who placed Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze first was the judge from France, Marie Reine Le Gougne. There is a French ice dance team, Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, that's contending for the gold medal in ice dance. Russia does not have gold medal contender in ice dance. Their top team is skating for the bronze. Perhaps there is some political maneuvering.

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Q: Does that happen a lot in figure skating?

Lund: It certainly happens sometimes.

Q: What do some of the skaters say about this result?

Lund: Well, no one wants to go on the record as criticizing the judges. But all of the skaters we've spoken to have said Sale and Pelletier skated spectacularly.

Q: Now what?

Lund: I can tell you there has been a huge outcry from fans around the world. Our office has received no less than 20 e-mails and a dozen phone calls expressing total disgust at the final results in the pairs competition.

Q: Controversy or no controversy, the competition goes on. The men's competition begins tonight. It seems like everyone is setting it up to be Evgeni Plushenko and Alexei Yagudin of Russia vying for the gold and Todd Eldredge and Timothy Goebel vying for the bronze. What are your thoughts?

Lund: Any one of the Americans or any one of the Russians can certainly take one, two or three. Anyone can grab it.

Q: Do you think the Americans are being negatively impacted by this talk?

Lund: I think they're just going to work a lot harder to prove their point. Our Americans have beaten these Russians before. They could do it again Tuesday night and in the long program Thursday.

Q: How have the skaters looked in practice?

Lund: All of the skaters have looked quite good. They all are obviously ready for this competition. They're all performing all their technical elements. Their artistic content is good. No one appears to be injured. They're all skating well.

Q: Of the three Americans -- Timothy Goebel, Todd Eldredge and Michael Weiss -- who do you think will be the highest finisher?

Lund: I'm going to have to go with Todd Eldredge. He has the experience. He is the reigning world bronze medalist. He is the U.S. national champion going in. His confidence level could carry him. Not discounting the others. Goebel has, after all, beaten Yagudin at altitude.

Q: Does Eldredge really seem to be adopting the attitude he promised -- taking it all in stride and enjoying himself?

Lund: From what I've seen, from talking to his parents and from talking to him briefly, certainly his frame of mind is excellent. He seems very relaxed and focused.

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