Skating: Russians challenge Eldredge's supremacy

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The Independent Online
Russia's Alexei Urmanov and Ilya Kulik showed their determination to outclass the powerful North Americans as the world figure skating championships began in Switzerland yesterday with men's qualifying.

Urmanov, the Olympic and European champion, and Kulik landed huge quadruple jumps that the defending champion, Todd Eldredge, and Elvis Stojko, the champion in 1994 and 1995, could not equal.

The American Eldredge fell on a triple axel, although he achieved one in combination with a triple toe loop. He did not attempt a quad, largely because he sprained his right ankle in training 10 days ago.

Stojko, who completed the first-ever quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop jump combination in the Champions Series final in his native Canada early this month, tried the quad alone yesterday and fell on the landing.

The American beat the Canadian with the former European champion, Viacheslav Zagorodniuk of Ukraine, third in the opening group. Urmanov won the second group from Kulik with the Frenchman, Eric Millot, third.

The men's short programme, worth one-third of the marks, is on Wednesday with the free skating final on Thursday.

North Americans have won the last four titles, Kurt Browning of Canada taking the crown in 1993. Ukraine's Viktor Petrenko won in 1992, skating for the Commonwealth of Independent States.

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