Leonova , Khvalko win pairs competition
Updated: Saturday December 09, 2000 10:56 PM
WASHINGTON (AP) -- It was a night for successful revivals -- "Bolero," "The Wild Wild West" and Yuka Sato.
An update of Torvill and Dean's dance to "Bolero" -- complete with jumps, overhead lifts and throws -- won the pairs title for Elena Leonova and Andrei Khvalko on Saturday night at the World Professional Figure Skating Championship.
Philippe Candeloro won the men's competition -- his first major title as an amateur or professional -- with a busy, prop-filled skate to music from "The Wild Wild West" soundtrack.
And Sato tied the event's record for longest gap between titles. Five years after winning the 1995 championship, the Japanese skater took the women's competition with an understated interpretation of Debussy's "Afternoon of a Faun."
The biggest ovation of the night was for defending pairs champions Leonova and Khvalko, who earned four perfect 10s for artistic impression as they captivated the MCI Center audience with a "Bolero" interpretation similar to that of Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo.
The difference: T&D are ice dancers, while Leonova and Khvalko are very acrobatic pairs skaters. In their most daring lift, Leonova was upside-down and balanced on Khvalko only by her forearms on his shoulders, with her face pressed against his.
Leonova said she and Khvalko weren't copying or paying tribute to Torvill and Dean.
It's just that "Bolero" makes for great skating music.
"The legacy of Torvill and Dean is the legacy of Torvill and Dean, and there's going to be the Torvill and Dean 'Bolero' forever," Leonova said.
"Because it's such a great piece of music and because we're pairs skaters and not ice dancers, (we felt) it was risky but we will try to do it, and we're really happy with it."
The routine earned all 9.9s and 10s. They won by a rout ahead of Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev. Americans Jenni Meno and Todd Sand placed third.
Candeloro won by a more narrow margin over Rudy Galindo, who skated to an instrumental version of "Colors of the Wind."
Candeloro began the routine by bursting through the swinging doors of an imitation saloon called "Candel City." He twirled a six-shooter, changed from a black outfit to a white one and even lassoed a production assistant sitting among the judges. He only landed three triple jumps -- two in the same combination -- but his superior artistic marks allowed him to top Galindo.
"Tonight I'm very glad for myself," Candeloro said. "I tried to do something different. ... There was a little pressure."
Galindo attempted four triple jumps, but stepped out of his triple axel. He wore a multicolored costume that flowed with the music in a moving performance that he said reflected his life. He tested positive for HIV early this year.
"You know my story -- it's been a roller-coaster," Galindo said.
Of his decision to go public with his condition, Galindo said: "You don't have to crawl up in a ball and hide. Now I feel like I am a true role model."
Ilia Kulik finished third, defending champion Alexei Urmanov fourth.
With defending women's champion Tara Lipinski absent with a hip injury, Sato took the mantel of favorite and lived up to it with solid performances on both nights of the competition.
"In 1995, I was clueless in a lot of ways, as a skater, as a person," Sato said. "It was the second year of my pro career. This time I was a little more relaxed."
Nicole Bobek was second, Lucinda Ruh third.
In the dance, Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow of the United States retained their title. Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovseyannikov of Russia were second.