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Canadians ask for investigation of pairs' judging

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Tuesday, February 12, 2002
Canadians outraged by judges' decision

Associated Press

TORONTO -- Canadians shed tears and expressed outrage at a judging decision that gave the pairs gold medal to Russian skaters and left Jamie Sale and David Pelletier with silver at the Olympics.

"Robbed! Flawless Skate Not Enough to Win Gold" read the headline of Tuesday's Ottawa Sun.

"Canucks golden fleeced" blared the Toronto Star.

TV newscasts led with the judging controversy from Monday night's competition at the Salt Lake City Winter Games that gave the win to Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia.

"Such a shame. Such a sham," wrote Toronto Star columnist Rosie Di Manno.

In Pelletier's home town of Sayabec, Quebec, the mayor wants to organize a protest and have flags along the Lower St. Lawrence River fly their flags at half staff.

At Martin Brodeur Arena in Montreal, where Sale and Pelletier trained until their move to Edmonton, Alberta last summer, Sandy Poire, a 14-year-old skater, said she was initially devastated by the judging.

"I was so mad, I cried," Poire said.

Caroline Pellitier, a young figure skater in Montreal, said she has second thoughts about her sport.

"Why should I skate now? In a big competition I'm not going to be judged on my performance," Pellitier told Canada's national broadcaster.

Daniel Bellitier, a figure skating instructor, didn't know what to tell his students.

"What am I going to tell them? 'No, no, that's OK?' No, it's not OK. There's something wrong there," he said.

The Russian, Chinese, French, Polish and Ukrainian judges gave the nod to Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze. The American, Canadian, German and Japanese judges had the Canadians first.

When the marks flashed and the boos rained down Monday night, Pelletier buried his face in his hands and Sale's eyes filled with tears.

Canada's chef de mission Sally Rehorick, a member of Skate Canada and a longtime skating judge, told Canada's public broadcaster she greeted the judges' decision with "total disbelief."

"I could not believe it," she said. "I was totally in shock.

"After Jamie and David skated, of course I was thrilled and I thought it's not even a difficult call to make. It's an easy decision to make.

"When it flashed up that it was second, it was a kick to the stomach. There's no doubt about it, it was the wrong decision," she said.

Rehorick said Canada's Olympic delegation is calling for an investigation. The International Skating Union, which oversees the sport, says it will conduct an "internal assessment."