World Figure Skating Championships

March 26, 2012 by staff 

World Figure Skating Championships, There is something about this city – or maybe it’s the country – that brings out the slightly bizarre in figure skating. You’re tempted to say it’s because soothing warm weather and the cold competitiveness of a world figure skating championship are an incongruous mix, but the Worlds have been held in Los Angeles, for instance, without the normal rhythm skipping a beat.

But when the Worlds were last held here on the Cote d’Azur in 2000, it was just one thing after another, and sometimes a bunch of stuff at the same time.

The ice follies actually began six months before the opening ceremonies, when the International Skating Union stripped Brisbane, Australia, the original host, of the Worlds, ostensibly because the television rights had not been nailed down. Since there’s normally three years, or more, to prepare for a Worlds, this was akin to changing Super Bowl sites a month before the big game.

The Aussies screamed bloody murder and wanted to throw ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta on the barbie, but could do nothing but stand and watch as France stepped in as host.

On the eve of the championships, reigning world pairs champions Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were suspended, because at the European championships a few weeks earlier she had tested positive for pseudoephedrine, a banned substance that probably wasn’t even allowed in Little League. It was traced back to a nasal medication, prescribed by a doctor near the pair’s training site in New Jersey.

That threw the pairs event wide open, but rising Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier could not take advantage for a medal because of a fall in the freeskate.

Then the French skating federation revealed that it assigned bodyguards to all its skaters. Pairs skater Stephane Bernadis was allegedly attacked by an unknown assailant to whom, for some vague reason, he’d opened his hotel room door. It was a superficial cut on his left forearm, but it required four stitches and elicited all kinds of sympathy for him and his partner Sarah Abitol. They won the bronze medal, France’s first pairs medal in 68 years.

During the pairs freeskate, Dmitri Palamarchuk of Ukraine caught an edge during an overhead lift and smashed his head. He was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher, unconscious, right in front of the next scheduled pair, Kristy and Kris Wirtz. The Canadians had to start their program early, despite being severely rattled by what they’d just witnessed.

And in ice dancing, future world champions Albena Denkova and Maxim Stavinski were forced to withdraw before the freedance when Denkova had two ankle tendons severed by the blade of American Peter Tchernyshev during practice.

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