Ice skating: Cousins upset by judging

STEVEN COUSINS produced his best performance of the year in the short programme, but he was disappointed to be given only seventh place at the World Figure Skating Championships in Minneapolis.

"By looking at my marks I think skating first was a disadvantage," the British champion from Chester said on Wednesday night. "I felt a little tired during the early morning practice. But during the competition I skated the best I've skated all year, better than the European Championships in January or even the Winter Olympics. Perhaps the judges were looking the other way."

Cousins' marks ranged from 5.0-5.3 for the required elements and 5.4- 5.5 for presentation. The field was headed by Alexei Yagudin and Evegni Plushenko, the outstanding Russians, and the American pair, Michael Weiss and Todd Eldredge.

Britain's teenaged pairs champions, Marsha Poluliaschenko and Andrew Seabrook, skated creditably to move up two places and finish 13th out of 20 in an event that was won by Russia's Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze.