|1||Elena Berezhnaya / Anton Sikharulidze||RUS||2||1|
|2||Jenni Meno / Todd Sand||USA||1||2|
|3||Peggy Schwarz / Mirko Mueller||GER||3||3|
|4||Xue Shen / Hongbo Zhao||CHN||6||4|
|5||Dorota Zagorska / Mariusz Siudek||POL||4||6|
|6||Marina Eltsova / Andrei Bushkov||RUS||7||5|
|7||Kristy Sargeant / Kris Wirtz||CAN||5||7|
|8||Sarah Abitbol / Stephane Bernadis||FRA||8||8|
|9||Marie Claude Savard-Gagnon / Michel Brunet||CAN||12||9|
|10||Shelby Lyons / Bryan Wells||USA||10||10|
|11||Marina Khalturina / Andrei Kroukov||KZK||9||11|
|12||Evgenia Filonenko / Igor Marchenko||UKR||11||12|
|13||Marsha Poluliaschenko / Andrew Seabrook||GBR||15||13|
|14||Katerina Berankova / Otto Dlabola||CZE||13||14|
|15||Danielle McGrath / Stephen Carr||AUS||14||15|
|16||Elaine Asanaki / Alcuin Schulten||GRE||16||16|
|17||Inga Rodionova / Aleksandr Anichenko||AZE||18||17|
|18||Olga Bestandigova / Josef Bestandig||SVK||17||18|
|19||Jelena Sirokhvatova / Juri Salmanov||LAT||20||19|
|20||Jekaterina Nekrassova / Valdis Mintals||EST||19||20|
|Withdrawn||Oksana Kazakova / Artur Dmitriev||RUS|
In a long program marked by considerable movement in the placements, and a great deal of conservative skating, the Russian team of Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze won the long program and the World title in their second Worlds together.
The first two warmup groups were pretty mediocre, but things started to get interesting by the third group in whish Lyons & Wells led off.. They both had problems with side by side jumps but in the pair elements they were strong, landing both throw triple Salchow and throw triple loop. With a 10th place finish they accomplished their part of the "job" in placing high enough for the U.S. to earn three spots at Worlds for next year.
Lyons & Wells were followed by the Canadians Savard-Gagnon & Bradet. Except for poor catch on triple twist they skated a strong, confident program. They attacked with speed, and were able to move up 3 spots in the long for a 9th place finish.
The fourth warmup group consisted of four team looking to recover from errors in the short program and hoping to move up into medal range. Eltosova & Bushkov missed one solo jump each, but completed their pair elements in good form. Their "lord of the Dance" number was pleasant enough, but they never really got into the enthusiasm of the music. Still, they were able to move up two placed for a fifth place finish.
Of all the teams in the last two warmups, Shen & Zhao were the team the attacked their program the most aggressively. Like many of the other teams, each missed a solo jump. Overall, however, their presentation was the fastest, strongest, and most dynamic of the top five teams. They also moved up two spots to fourth place, just out of the medals.
Abitbol & Bernadis who were sixth at the Olympics, and had medal potential with three of the Olympic teams out of the way, went the conservative route. They did not attempt the throw triple Axel and made errors on double Axels and throw triple loop. They ended up mired in 8th place, a victim of "no guts, no glory."
Meno & Sand led off the final warmup group. They skated a conservative program designed to maximize their chances for a medal - a decision made by their coach, John Nicks. They left out their opening side by side triple toe loops, starting off instead with triple twist and then adding a lasso lift. After that, they completed their program without further modification. Their only error was a fall on throw triple Salchow. Their strategy was rewarded by earning the silver medal, the best placement by a U.S. pair team at Worlds since 1979 when Babilonia & Gardner won the World Championships. Given the way that Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze skated two teams later, had Meno & Sand landed the triple toes, they might well have won the gold, but had they made an error on those jumps it might have cost them the silver. Thus the strategic element of competitive skating.
Schwarz & Mueller followed with their own cautious, romantic program whose only error was a fall by Schwarz on a solo double Axel. It was good enough to hold their position in third place, and to earn them their first medal in World competition.
When Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze entered the ice, the gold medal was theirs to win or loose. Meno & Sand's program was strong enough to win the gold but was also very beatable. Like many of the other teams, they skated conservatively and made a change to their program to minimize the risk of disaster. They started off with three errors in the first three tricks - Sikharulidze stepping out of triple toe loop, no catch on the triple twist, and Berezhnaya singling a double Axel. After that they got their feet under them and completed the remainder of the program with security and poise. At the end of the program they omitted the lift on which they fell at the Olympics as they exited the lift.
Zagorska & Siudek, who were 10th at the Olympics, and who were the surprise occupants of fourth place after the short program gave it a good shot in the long program, despite a fall by Zagorska during the warmup in which she crashed into the barrier bruising her knee and jaw. Errors on triple toe loops and throw triple Salchow, and overall weakness in their pair quality dropped them two spots two sixth place. Still it was a game effort and showed potential for the future.
Surprise, surprise, surprise. In their last eligible competition, which they almost chose not to attend, Meno & Sand upset the competition by placing first in the short program with a clean refined program. They skated to Chopin's "Fantasie Impromptu", which was their short program in 1997, abandoning "Pomp and Circumstance" which they had used this season up through the Olympic Games.
They landed their side-by-side triple toe loops securely, and completed all the other required elements without difficulty. Skating in the second of six groups they were the highest ranked team to skate up to that point. It thus remained to wait for the favorites to skate to see how well their marks would hold up. As the night progressed all the favorites faltered in one way or another leaving Meno and Sand in first place and securely positioning them for medal here.
Berzhnaya and Sikharulidze skated a stunning program but he put a hand down on their triple toe loops and she fell, placing them squarely in second place. They remain the favorites for the gold here, but based on the short program results it is clear the judges will not be judging based on Olympic reputation, and in the free skate anything is possible.
Another surprise result in the short program was the third place result from Schwarz & Mueller. They skated a clean program which included side-by-side triple toe loops, and which was seamlessly presented with great emotion. Their side-by-side combination spin was a difficult camel - back camel - sit spin combination which was performed with perfect unison from start to end and was warmly acknowledged by the audience.
Strong performances were also given by the Polish team of Zagorska & Siudek and the Canadian team of Sargeant & Wirtz.
On the down side, neither the team of Shen & Zhao and Abitbol & Bernadis skated to expectations, but they have plenty of opportunity to move up tomorrow. In side-by-side toe loops Shen stepped out of the jump. On the same element, Abitbol fell and Bernadis two-footed the jump.
Skating on one day's notice, Lyons & Wells gave a respectable 10th place performance. They skated clean, but in side-by-side triple Salchows Wells doubled the jump.
Any predictions for the final results of this event based on the results from the Olympics are out the window. The free skate tomorrow may hold even more surprises, without the unbelievable prospect that the U.S. has a serious chance of winning its first gold medal in pairs since 1979.
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