1998 World Campionships

Daily Notes and Comments

And Another One Bites the Dust
(skaters withdrawn since the start of Worlds)






Oksana Kazakova
Artur Dmitriev
RUS Pairs Food Poisoning
Kyoko Ina
Jason Dungjen
USA Pairs Injury
Shelby Lyons
Brian Wells
Sabrina LeFrancois
Nicolas Osseland
FRA Pairs Right knee Injury
Kaja Hanevold NOR Ladies Equipment Failure none
Armen Asoyan ARM Men ? none
Cornel Gheorghe ROM Men Federation Politics Gheorghe Chiper
Ilia Kulik RUS Men Back Injury Evgeni Plushenko
Hay Wai Derek Leung HKG Men Age Ineligible none
Igor Pashkevitch AZE Men Injury none
Sergei Rylov AZE Men Injury none
Natalia Ponomareva
Evgeniy Sviridov
UZB Pairs Age Ineligible none
Zita Gebora
Andras Visontia
HUN Dance Age Ineligible Kornelia Barany
Andre Rosnik

Skaters Who Withdrew Prior to Start of Worlds

Tara Lipinski USA Ladies Good Question Tonia Kwiatkowski
Nicole Bobek USA Ladies Injury none
Elvis Stojko CAN Men Groin Injury none
Mandy Woetzel
Ingo Steuer
GER Pairs Shoulder Injury

Saturday, 4 April 1998

The ISU responded to the lawsuit they were served with yesterday, offering the standard comment - there is no merit to the case and they will fight it vigorously.  Stadion is suing for $150 million in damages over a 5 year period.  We have obtained a copy of the suite, which was filed in New York, and will describe in details the allegations, which include claims of collusion between ISU President Cinquanta and IMG, in an article following our return from the World Championships.

The Ice Dance Technical Committee held an open meeting today in which proposals concerning the future of ice dancing which may be considered at the June ISU Congress were discussed.  In response to criticism of ice dancing competitions, the ISU has been developing a set of proposals which will significantly change the nature of those events.   We will provide more detailed information on these proposals in a future posting.


Michelle Kwan won the long program to claim her second World title.  Both Irina Slutskaya and Maria Butyrskaya moved up to win the silver and the bronze.  All six ladies in the final warmup made some errors, but each one fought for a place on the podium.  Tonia Kwiatkowski, who needed to place at least in the top 12 for the U.S. to qualify three ladies for next year came through like gangbusters, placing sixth in the long and sixth overall.


Friday, 3 April 1998

IMG and the ISU were served with a lawsuit for alleged fraud and interference in business relations by Stadion.  Damages in excess of $300 million are claimed.   Prior to 1995 Stadion provided marketing and promotional services to the ISU.   Since 1995 those services have been shifted to IMG.  According to a Stadion press release, "Our businesses were completely wiped out by the way IMG and the ISU conspired to steal our ISU contract out from under us.  International skating competitions have become so commercialized that it is less about sport and more about how much money people can make ... so it is no wonder certain people in IMG and the ISU were more interested in making more money than in honoring contracts ... when IMG and certain ISU officials saw we were vulnerable, they used every dirty trick in the book to squeeze us to where we lost our contracts which conservatively were worth $20 to $30 million/year in net profits.  It is incredible that they did this to us, after we had a long and mutually profitable relationship with the ISU."


Michelle Kwan won the short program with eight first place ordinals, and in the process earning the first 6.0 of the competition.  The planets continue to be favorably aligned for Anna Rechnio of Poland who placed second.  All three Russian ladies had trouble with the combination, with Slutskaya and Butyrskay placing fourth and fifth.   Laetitia Hubert placed third landing one of the two triple toe loop - triple toe loop combinations of the day ( Lenka Kulovana landed the other).  Tanja Szewczenko, is a sentimental favorite for a comeback medal had a lackluster skate and placed 10th, running into the wall on the double toe loop of her triple Lutz combination.


Dance turned out pretty much as expected, but it was still fun to watch.  The audience, with a large Canadian presence, was not happy with the results and gave the panel of judges a good booing during the marks, and again the referee and assistant referee during the awards ceremony.  When the latter two officials were congratulating the medalists the audience was nearly totally silent, and at least had the good taste not to boo the skaters themselves.

Our own ignorant opinion, based solely on an artisitic and entertainment view of the performaces, would have been to put Anissina & Peizerat first, Krylova & Ovsiannikov second, and Bourne & Kraatz third; and to have placed Punsalan & Swallow in fifth ahead of Fusar Poli & Margaglio.


Thursday, 2 April 1998



Bourne & Kraatz appear to be buried in third place behind Anissina & Peizerat.   Punsalan & Swallow dropped behind Fusar-Poli & Margaglio into 6th place while Joseph & Butler remained in 25th and were eliminated from the competition.


Todd Eldredge came back to win the long program, and ended up with the silver medal tonight, in a free skating event that was  a nail biter till the very end.   Alexei Yagudin was second in the long to win the gold medal, while Evgeni Plushenko took the bronze in his first appearance at a World Championships.  Michael Weiss faded in the free skate to end up seventh in the long and sixth overall.  With a 2nd and 6th place finish from the U.S. men, the U.S. qualifies three men for next year.

The Chinese man Zhengxin Guo landed the only quad of the night, in an attempt at a quad toe loop - triple toe loop combination.  Only the first jump was ratified by the ISU, with the combination not counting for the record book.


Wednesday, 1 April 1998


The Russian men went one-two in the short program, with the U.S. skaters just behind placing three-four.  Todd Eldredge, currently in 4th, pressed too hard on this triple Axel and stepped out in a costly error that greatly increases the difficulty of his capturing the gold here.  Alexei Yagudan skated a bit under the weather, apparently from the same problem as Pair skater Artur Dmitriev.  He said, "I felt a bit heavy on the ice becuase I was ill like Artur Dmitriev.  I ate some bad food.  I was not afraid to skate, but my jumps were a bit heavy.  Tomorrow I will fight again."

The higher ranked Canadian man here, Emanuel Sandhu skated poorly and was eliminated from the competition with a 29th place finish in the short program.  Immediately after his performance he remarked "I was not nervous, but it just happened.  I am very disappointed because now may qualification is in doubt."  Added his coach, "A few things with his body are bothering him, but he wants to keep them to himself."  The second Canadian man skated a clean upbeat program for an 8th place result in the short program.  He will have to move up to 6th place for Canada to qualify two men for next year.


Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze won their first World title in a free skating event in which all the gold medal contending teams skated conservative programs.  Meno & Sand placed second in the long to win the silver medal.  This is the fourth World medal won by Todd Sand in his eligible pair career making him one of the most successful pair men in U.S. history, surpassed only by Peter Kennedy who won five medals for the U.S. in the early 1950's.  The bronze medal was won by Schwarz and Mueller, their first in World competition.  The second U.S. team of Lyons and Wells placed 10th, and with a combined placement of 12 from the U.S. teams, the U.S. earned three spots in pairs for next year.

Meno & Sand are retiring from eligible competition.  It was also announced that this will be the last pair team directed by their coach John Nicks, although he will continue coaching in southern California.  Kazakova & Dmitriev are also "retiring" from eligible international competition, but plan to retain their ISU eligibility and skate only in ISU sanctioned shows.  Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze will continue in eligible skating for at least the next year.

More on sushigate.  Artur Dmitriev is still in bed recovering from food poisoning.   It was also learned that Alexei Yagudin and Oksana Kazakova also were somewhat ill and it is now suspected that all three were affected by food on the plane ride to Minneapolis as other athletes at the same restaurant as the Russian skaters reported no ill effects.


Tuesday, 31 March 1998


Kazakov and Dmitriev withdrew from the pairs event this afternoon due to Dmitriev succumbing to a case of food poisoning.  This evening it was reported that this was caused by dinner Monday night at a local sushi bar.  Since this occurred after the draw, according to ISU rules Russia will be assigned 16 points for determining Worlds entries next year.

In the competition, Meno & Sand ended up the deserved, but unexpected, leaders after the short program.  Given the turn of events today, it seems nearly inevitable that Meno & Sand will come away from here with some kind of medal, probably at least the silver, and with a strong performance and a little luck the gold is not unthinkable.

Ice Dancing

The Ice Dancing Compulsory dances went off this afternoon, with the added drama of the "death" threats that had been received by French ice dancer Gwendal Peizerat while training in Lyon prior to Wolrds.  Because of these threats Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat are being guarded by security police at the Minneapolis Target Center.  According to Didier Gailhaguet, French national coach, anonymous callers who made comments to the effect that if Anissina and Peizerat came to Minneapolis they would be "nailed", or words to that effect.  Gailhaguet was quoted in the Hamilton Spectator by journalist Steve Milton as saying,  "We never know what can happen in this country. So we have some protection from the police here."

It has been assumed that the calls to Peizerat's cell phone were from Canadians upset that the French skaters won the bronze medal at Nagano, ahead of Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, but there is no hard evidence of that, and is based primarily on the number of complaints made to the ISU from Canadian fans.  According to Gailhaguet, "... 80 per cent of the faxes and internet messages the ISU got were from Canadians, and 10 per cent from Americans. And the ISU got about 1500 of them."

The complaints received by the ISU about the Ice Dancing event in Nagano were in large part generated by comments made in Nagano by Natalia Dubova, who coaches Bourne and Kraatz, and Canadian commentator Tracy Wilson who both accused five European judges of bloc voting to deprive her team of a spot on the podium.

According to the Spectator, Gailhaguet criticized Dubova and her skaters for criticizing the judging at Olympics. The ISU is investigating their comments, and the skaters were warned to keep silent of the subject.  There are ISU rules that prohibit judges from making comments on the judging, and which preclude skaters and coaches from criticizing the ISU or its judges.

According to Gailhaguet, the French skating federation had received about 50 faxes, mostly from Canadians, about the results in Nagano, but that the threats were made by phone directly to Peizerat's cell phone which he eventually turned off.

In the dance event itself, favorites Angelika Krylova & Oleg Ovsiannikov won both dances, despite an obvious stumble by Ovsiannikov in the second dance.  Rivals Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz and Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat ended the compulsories tied, with Bourne & Kraatz ahead in the first dance and Anissina & Peizerat in the second.  Elizabeth Punsalan & Jerod Swallow ended up in fifth, while teammates Jessica Joseph & Charles Butler are in 25th place.  They must move up one spot to escape elimination after the Original Dance which takes place tomorrow.


Monday, 30 March 1998

During practice Sunday night, Kyoko Ina struck Jason Dungjen above the right eye with her elbow while practicing a triple twist.  Dungjen was taken to the Riverside Fairview Hospital where it was determined he suffered a small fracture of the right supraoptical bone (browbone).  After an examination this afternoon they withdrew from the competition, and will be replaced by Shelby Lyons and Brain Wells.

The two ladies qualifying rounds were held today with 20 ladies skating their long programs in Group A and 19 in Group B.  The top 15 in each group will go on to compete in the ladies event, with the short program taking place on Friday.  Group A was the more difficult of the two, but was still easily won by Michelle Kwan.  Tonia Kwiatkowski placed fourth.  Group B was won by Maria Butyrskaya who placed 4th in the recent Olympic Games.  Unexpectedly strong perfomrance were also given by Anna Rechnio of Poland, and Elena Liashenko of Ukraine. Overall for the day we would place the skaters as follows: Kwan, Butyrskaya, Rechnio, Slutskaya, Sokolova, and Liashenko.


Sunday, 29 March 1998

They have been dropping like flies coming into Worlds following the Winter Olympics in February.  In the ladies event, first no Lu Chen or Surya Bonaly - both turning pro.   Then Lipinski withdrew because she was sick/had two teeth extracted/was sick/was too busy to train/was fatigued/was turning pro/all of the above.  Next it was Nicole Bobek, who changed coaches and moved to Virginia following the Olympics, and then withdrew due to injury.  In the men,  Philippe Candeloro turned pro after Nagano, and a few weeks later Elvis Stojko pulled out to nurse his groin injury.  Finally, among the top skaters, Ilia Kulik, pulled out the day before the men's qualifying round due to troubles with his back.  Pairs has faired the best so far, with all of the top teams from Nagano still scheduled to compete as the competition begins; and dance is also doing well with only Grishuk & Platov out due to her wrist injury.

The two men's qualifying rounds were held today with 18 men skating their long programs in Group A and 18 in Group B.  The top 15 in each group will go on to compete in the men's event, with the short program taking place on Wednesday.  In Group A the U.S. placed one-two while in Group B it was one-two for Russia.  Together we would have placed the skaters in the following order: Eldredge, Plushenko, Yagudin, Weiss.

For reasons that have yet to be explained, the Romanian skater Cornel Gheorghe who was practicing here on Thursday, was pulled from the competition by his Federation, and was replaced by their number two skater, Gheorghe Chiper.  They pulled his credential, took away his team jacket, and that was that.  Today in qualifying Group A, Chiper placed 16th, and was eliminated from the competition - whoops!

Several men attempted quad toe loop today, but only Takeshi Honda was successful.   The others were ruled two-footed or were otherwise obviously underrotated.

The buzz has it that last week Gwendal Peizerat received a telephoned death threat in Lyon.  Based only on speculation, it is assumed it came from a fanatical Bourne and Kraatz enthusiast.  No confirmation or details are available yet.

Tomorrow, it's the qualifying rounds for the ladies.

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