Sale, Pelletier deliver Canada's KO punch
||Winnipeg Free Press|
||December 12, 2004|
CHEERED on by boisterous, flag-waving fans, Team Canada clinched
its second consecutive World Team Challenge win ahead of Russia, the
United States and Europe late Friday night at the MTS Centre. In a
four-hour marathon of professional figure skating competition,
four-time world champ Kurt Browning, six-time national champion
Jennifer Robinson and golden Olympic pair Jamie Sale and David
Pelletier scored a decisive victory, amassing 443.1 points in total
ahead of Team Russia, who tallied 438.9.
"David and Jamie are such a solid base, they're so confident and so
strong, and Jennifer's turned into a wonderful professional
skater. She's casual backstage and then goes out and puts it out
there," Browning said. "I was just riding the wave that they started."
Browning, Sale and Pelletier also emerged victorious at the
inaugural WTC last year in Vancouver thanks to a stellar showing by
teammate Josee Chouinard, who is due to give birth to twins in
p>This time around, Robinson ranked first among the women, overtaking
1994 Olympic champion Oksana Baiul of Ukraine.
"Everything went really smoothly," said Robinson, who retired from
the Olympic-eligible stream last spring and made her professional
debut here Friday. "I really like the team concept with points and
having your teammates out there (to cheer you on) is very cool."
The World Team Challenge, Canada's only pro competition, boasts a
unique format with one man, woman and pair competing as a team. Points
earned by each team member for their technical and artistic
performances are added to determine the winning team. The event was
judged by a panel of five former world medallists. Baiul, in the
second season of her self-styled comeback from a rocky period in her
post-Olympics life, said, "It feels great to be back, to be able to do
the triple Lutz. The last season I did that was really the year of the
"I am a very competitive person, especially within myself. I don't
really care for placings, I care for what I achieved here."
Sale and Pelletier, who lifted the crowd from their seats with two
dynamic performances set to Radar Love and Over the Rainbow, edged
Russia's Olympic co-gold medallists, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton
Sikharulidze, for top honours in the pairs event.
Browning, however, was unable to hold top spot on the men's
leaderboard despite his flawless Time in a Bottle technical program
and a strong second skate. In round one, Browning tied 2002 Olympic
champion Alexei Yagudin, 24, who delighted the crowd with an inspired
replay of his signature program, Winter, which earned him gold in Salt
When Yagudin pulled two triple-triple jump combinations out of his
bag of tricks in the final skate, the judges gave the nod to the
"I was ecstatic about the first one (program)," said Browning. "It
was a program that you're not allowed to make any mistakes. The music
is pristine, the movements are pristine, clear and open, so to try a
triple-triple and do a triple loop, I was like 'What am I doing?' "
The WTC is one of only two professional events world-wide, a fact
lamented by many of the skaters and event judging referee Kerry
Leitch, a veteran pairs coach.
"I'd like to see a professional circuit with prize money, something
like professional golf's Champions Tour," said Leitch, noting at least
five, annual pro competitions, including the prestigious World Pro
Championships, had been the norm in the 1990s.
Yagudin, who dominated both pro events this season, said, "As soon
as there are more, I will be doing them because I love to compete, I
love that feeling on the ice."