Leading Article: Meltdown for the ice maidens

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IN THE END, it was the second-best result. Here, we prefer our sport to imitate life, not a script following the fixations of ABC, CNN, and all the other sets of American initials that tell us what the biggest news story in the world is and how it should turn out. What we were really hoping for was that the bright, brave, Nancy with the twinkling blades would suddenly go crashing to the ice slap bang in the middle of a triple lutz, clutching the famous knee that was so famously attacked by the infamous metal rod; and that Tonya, the girl with the appalling taste in eyeliner, clothes, husbands and bodyguards, the girl from trailer-park America, would come through triumphantly to take gold amid a barrage of boos. Collapse of Disney movie, reaffirmation of that view of reality so splendidly expressed by the God of Joseph Heller: 'Who said it was meant to be fair?'.

And, for a while, Tonya went well, turning up late, dissolving into tears, trouble with the boot, off the ice, back on, milking that blue curtain in a manner pioneered by Eric Morecambe. But it was not to be. Brave Nancy skated resoundingly through, the knee looking strong enough to resist pickaxes and sledgehammers. A graceful black girl from France briefly raised the tempting prospect of a complete script upset, but Nancy was still in there, all plucky chic. And then Oksana appeared, a minute 16- year-old in make-up and a pink synthetic outfit which made Tonya look positively Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Seventh, from a land where Tonya's trailers would be luxury. And she won. Oh joy] Injustice had been done, even if there were a few minor blemishes: Oksana being an orphan, for example, and Nancy still standing to make pounds 10m from endless endorsements and appearances. Oh, and by the way, in our view, Torvill and Dean were extremely lucky to come away with the bronze.