Figure Skating
Skater Bios
 Friday, March 31
Latin rhythms around the World Championship
Associated Press

 NICE, France -- The original dance at the World Figure Skating Championships Thursday was not one dance but three, as the competitors used combinations of the Latin rhythms such as the cha cha, samba, meringue or rumba.

The new rules increased the routines' length from two to three minutes, making the section more of an endurance test.

The original counts for 30 percent of the total marks, and was instrumental in dropping the favored French team of Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat to second place.

Peizerat made one small misstep. Last year, the momentary lapse of concentration would have been less important. Stringent rules have been adopted this season with clearly defined deductions for errors.

The new specifications make the judges' job more objective and less subjective.

Peizerat's problem occurred when his body got ahead of his feet in the middle of the required straight line sequence, which he and his partner chose to do toward the end of their routine during their meringue. He had to move awkwardly to keep from falling.

The French couple executed the same routine at the recent European championships and won easily.

Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio of Italy beat Anissina and Peizerat.

Lucky 13:
For American teen-agers Jaime Silverstein and Justin Pekarek, 13 is a lucky number.

With one round left, they were 13th among the 32 ice dance couples from 24 countries - good for a couple in their first world championship. "We're delighted," Pekarek said.

The 16-year-old Silverstein was the youngest in the ice dance event. She is from Pittsburgh but lives in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., where the couple train. At 18, Pekarek, from Auburn Hills, Mich.,, was the third youngest of the men.

They were 14th in the compulsories Tuesday and moved up one place, overtaking a more experienced Russian pair in Thursday's original dance.

Silverstein and Pekarek's routine included a flashy cha cha and a sensuous rumba.

They have been competing together for five years, and won the U.S. Novice championship in 1996. Since 1998, they have won the 1999 U.S. and world junior championships, and in January they finished second in the senior ice dance at the U.S. championships to win a place on the national team.

Now they are looking forward to the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002.

"We already have competed in the arena that will be used in the games and we attended a training camp in Salt Lake City, so it's very much in our minds," Silverstein said.

Back on his feet:
Ukrainian pairs skater Dmitri Palamarchuk still isn't sure what went wrong when he crashed during the final free program, banging his head on the ice. He managed to get off the ice himself, but then lost consciousness for about five minutes at the skater's entrance.

"I don't remember. I did the lift, and fell," said Palamarchuk, who was walking toward the skaters' hotel after being released from the hospital Thursday. An X-ray and scan were negative, but Palamarchuk said he had a slight throbbing in the head.

Palamarchuk and partner Julia Obertas, the 1998 and 1999 junior world champions, were performing a lift when his skate appeared to catch the ice and he fell backward.

No Tara, No Oksana in Salt Lake City:
International Skating Union president Ottavio Cinquanta has ruled out the possibility of Tara Lipinski and Oksana Baiul competing at the 2002 Olympics.

He said that former Olympians who turned pro are ineligible for ISU competition.

"Never, ever," Cinquanta said. "On the basis of the present rule, there is no possibility. They are 100 percent excluded.

"There is no return."

Cinquanta said skaters who leave the ISU to compete under other forms of rules and regulations are unable to regain their eligibility now.

"If you have an egg and you boil it, and you want to have it back fresh, it's impossible," Cinquanta said.

Pro skaters banned from Olympics, ISU chief says

 Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizeret perform at Worlds (Courtesy: ABC Sports)
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