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FIGURE SKATING Pairs to watch



Published: Sat, February 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Canada -- Reigning world champs haven't lost a major competition since Lalique in fall 2000. ... Changed coaches since last season ... Her jumping has been weakest link. ... Personable pair, crowd favorites, and their emotion on ice is touching. ... Have only been skating together since summer of 1998.

Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharuldize, Russia -- Thought to be pair to beat after winning world title in 1998 and 1999, but haven't quite lived up to expectations. ... Withdrew from European championships to give her nagging Achilles' tendon time to heal. ... Best hope to continue Russian lock on Olympic pairs gold that began in 1964. ... Won silver medal at Nagano. ... Train in Hackensack, N.J.

Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo, China -- Dropped to third at 2001 worlds after winning silver medal previous two years. ... Bronze medalists at Grand Prix final. ... Incredible athletes -- they've completed a quad throw salchow in practice -- but still need work on artistry. ... Fifth at Nagano. ... First Chinese pair to medal at worlds.

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, Russia -- Won first European title. ... Second to Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze at Russian championships, though many thought they should have won. ... Have made steady climb at worlds, finishing seventh in 1999, sixth in 2000 and fifth last season. ... Switched coaches after 2001 Europeans, now training with 1984 Olympic pairs champion Oleg Vasiliev.

Source: Associated Press




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