Canadians vent fury over snub to skating pair

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The Independent Online

If ice skating gold medals were awarded for emoting, the Canadian pair of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier would be in possession of one today. But they were left with silver, and the outraged sympathy of the Salt Lake Ice Centre crowd, after judges awarded the Olympic title to Russia's silver medallists of four years ago, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze by a 5-4 margin.

The Canadian team are now calling on the International Skating Union to investigate the affair. "Most decisions in skating are fair," said Sally Rehorick, the Canadian chef de mission, yesterday. "The fact that this one is not the right decision could have a bad effect on the rest of the disciplines."

Asked if she thought there was a possibility of federations considering sanctions against the IFU in order to bring about greater consistency in judging decisions, she added: "I think there is solidarity for that right now. People are definitely bonding together."

The Canadians angst has been heightened by the fact that the French judge was one of those who gave the decision to the Russian pair.

The world champions had already survived one minor trauma in the warm-up for their final when Sale was sent reeling to the ice, heavily winded, after colliding with Sikharulidze. At the end of their performance, she pumped her fists and her partner kneeled to kiss the ice. Both felt they had done enough.

But although the Russian pair were awarded lower technical marks than the Canadians, following a slip by Sikharulidze on one of his landings, they took the gold by virtue of a better showing in the artistic category, gaining seven 5.9's in comparison to their rivals' four.

The announcement was greeted with stunned dismay by the Canadians, and the venue erupted with booing and jeering from a crowd convinced that Sale and Pelletier's interpretation of their favoured "Love Story" programme should have been rewarded with gold.

Britain's women curlers, who beat Norway 10-6 in their opening match, were unable to maintain their momentum in the second of their round-robin matches against Sweden, losing 7-4.

In their opening match, Rhona Martin's team capitalised on the uncertainty of the rival skip Dordi Nordby on the Ogden ice. "We tried to keep making her take the type of shots that she was struggling with," Martin said. Nordby's comments betrayed a competitor who had been well and truly psyched-out: "I didn't understand the ice," she said afterwards. "I started to understand it and then I lost my mind. I don't want to think about it."

Glynn Pedersen's Olympics ended in disappointment as he failed to reach today's final of the K120 ski jump. The Canadian-based 20-year-old, whose parents are British, produced an opening practice jump of 98.0m at Utah Olympic Park, placing him within the top 50 qualifying places. But a final effort of 91m saw him drop out of contention.

Pedersen, who has a K120 best of 113.5m, was frustrated. "My training was going so well and I'm annoyed that I've performed below my potential," he said. "Conditions were fine for jumping today but my second jump was so poor. I could feel it wasn't right – I think I was too high with the chest and it was well below my personal best.

"Naturally I'm disappointed to have competed like this. The Olympic experience has taught me a lot and clearly I have lots to think about."

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