| || NICE, France -- Overcoming the shock of a razor attack,
France's Stephane Bernadis and Sarah Abitbol won the bronze
Wednesday at the World Figure Skating Championships, where Michelle
Kwan struggled on her jumps and finished second in qualifying.
Bernadis, given a pain reliever before he skated, showed no
obvious difficulty from the eight-inch cut down his left forearm
inflicted a day earlier by an unknown assailant.
The French couple's medal brought to a grateful close a
star-crossed pairs competition that started with the defending
champions' forced doping withdrawal.
The problem-plagued championships finally focused purely on
sport, with Kwan holding back on a triple-triple combination. She
wound up behind her main rival, Irina Slutskaya, in their
"I was a little upset with myself," Kwan said. "I did it so
well in practice, and came here and popped out."
Both she and Slutskaya performed six triple jumps, and neither
fell. But after Kwan's rather flat program to "Red Violin," and
scaled down triple-double and double salchow, Slutskaya didn't even
bother to put in either of her triple jump combinations.
No one could afford to hold back too much - not with top
contenders Kwan and Slutskaya skating back-to-back in the
talent-packed first group. Though she admitted being driven by the
rivalry, Kwan tried to play it down.
"As I've always said, when you're out there it's just you and a
big ice surface," Kwan said. "It does help knowing I've got to be
my best. You can only think of yourself."
| ||Stephane Bernadis performs during a practice session with a bandaged arm after a man wielding a razor attacked him in his hotel room Tuesday.|
Americans Sarah Hughes and Angela Nikodinov finished third and
fifth, respectively, in the Kwan-Slutskaya group.
Defending champion Maria Butyrskaya easily led the second
qualifying group with six triples, but she put her hand down on a
The uneventful women's qualifying round was a welcome, if brief,
respite from the off-ice intrigue and distractions that have
overshadowed the pairs event.
Backed by a raucous French crowd, the pair had just one mistake:
Abitbol two-footed a triple throw landing when Bernadis' grip was
slightly off. He emphasized it was his hand - not arm - that missed
The pairs title went to Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, who
skated nearly perfectly to Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" - except his
double toe-loop when she tripled. China's Shen Xue and Zhao Hongvo
finished second, losing their lead after the short with four costly
errors in the free.
Yet to simply rattle off the rankings is to miss the
psychological impact of the bizarre and unsettling events of the
"It was more pressure than usual," Tikhonov said. "When you
skate, you usually are just in your own world. It was very
different this time, because I worried about our team friends and
what happened with Stephane."
Skaters did their best to cocoon themselves early in the
competition against the sudden withdrawal Sunday of two pairs,
including defending champions Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton
Sikharulidze. In both cases, skaters said the stimulants were
contained in medicines.
Competitors comforted themselves with increased security after
Bernadis reported that a male assailant wielding a razor had
slashed his forearm at the skaters' hotel Tuesday.
But then, Ukrainian skater Dmitri Palamarchuk fell and banged
his head on the ice when his right blade appeared to catch the ice
during a lift. His partner, Julia Obertas, was uninjured.
Palamarchuk managed to get up and off the ice on his own, but
then lost consciousness at the skaters' entrance for about five
minutes. An X-ray and scan at a hospital showed no damage, but he
was kept overnight for observation.
The fall unsettled Canadians Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz, who
were next on the ice. They broke off their program after the second
element, a double twist that they singled, but continued
unenthusiastically when the referee told them it was that or
withdraw. They finished 10th.
Even China's Zhao said the Ukrainian's fall affected his
skating. "I was a bit frightened when I did the lift. So I did it
very, very carefully."
Both American pairs finished in the top 10. Kyoko Ina and John
Zimmerman, who train in New Jersey with Berezhnaya and
Sikharulidze, had problems with their jumps and came in seventh,
while Tiffany Scott and Phillip Dulebohn, who train in Delaware,
| ||Michelle Kwan is having a difficult time at this year's World Championships in Nice, France.|| |
Petrova and Tikhonov win pairs world championship
Ukrainian pairs skater injured in fall
Slutskaya beats Kwan in qualifying
Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov win pairs world championship
Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman short program at Worlds
Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo replay