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Olympic Games - Figure Skating
Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio
Photo © Alex Wilf
Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio

Italians Fusar-Poli/Margaglio won the compulsory dance on Saturday. Judging by their first reaction in the «kiss-and-cry», they expected anything but this, just like many people who tried to predict the events.

Belbin/Agosto or Grushina/Goncharov who won the CD at the Europeans were most likely to lead. It could've also been Navka/Kostomarov even though there were many doubts that Russians would be allowed to lead the chase for the third top awards after Russia won pairs and men. Denkova and Staviski who were hidden from the wide audiences before the Torino, had a shot for it too. But the Italians...

Still, why not? Only because it was their first competition in three years, not counting the Italian Nationals? They didn't come back «just to skate». They had a goal - to take the gold that they didn't get in SLC after Maurizio fell, and they only got the bronze.

Fusar-Poli/Margaglio were almost the favorites before those Games. They won the Worlds a year early, mostly due to their work with Tatiana Tarasova. The great Russian coach gave them what they needed the most - the choreography that masterfully put all their weaknesses, mainly Margaglio's «whatever» skating skills, to the background, and their strengths were highlighter hundred times as much and offered to the judges and the fans in their best shape and form.

However, their union broke soon after the victory. Canadians Bourne and Kraatz asked to join Tarasova's group, the coach agreed, and her students got so jealous as they didn't want to get the «cut» attention.

Barbara and Maurizio were leaving the sport feeling down. Then, it seemed that was for good. Who knew that their unsatisfied self-esteem will grow and materialize in the hurricane that will create such an intriguing competition in Torino.

Fuzar-Poli/Margaglio's performance created a huge hype in Italy. The previously half-full Palavela palace was completely filled during their dance. Millions of people watched them on TV. According to the statistics, the average of 5,443 millions watched the Italians compulsory on TV That was 19.38% of all RAI viewers at the moment. The maxim number of viewers reached 6 millions. That was the highest number for the moment. To compare, these numbers are on the level of racing ratings, when Valentino Rossi competes at the Worlds.

The skaters said in the mixed zone, «We are very glad that we not only just came back, we proved to everyone we are here not just for the pretty picture like many hinted. We are here to win gold. Why are faces were like that when the marks were announced? We can't get used to the current system yet. We missed several years of competition. We felt like we were at our first ball. We couldn't understand what was happening and we were worried».

Navka and Kostomarov were just a .58 behind the Italians and they were amazingly calm about being second.

Navka said, «I would've probably been hysterical if we didn't have an experience at the Europeans where we were third in CD. We are still ready to fight. I don’t think something bad happened».

Really, why worry? Those whose hopes were crashed have much more reasons for that, like Chait and Sakhnovski. The team did great on the first dance pattern, but Galit fell on the second. The top eight teams are spread within 3.55 points. Still, it should be very uncomfortable for Drobiazko/Vanagas who were third in Europeans and are eighth now. It’s just as uncomfortable for everyone outside the top three. They are all very ambitious.

The country was inspired by the Italians being the leaders. Italian press presented the intermediate win in the dance discipline that never had the serious meaning just like the question of the gold was just the thing of time.

The fight haven’t really started yet. It’ll probably be tough, maybe the toughest in the history of ice dance.

© Елена Вайцеховская, 2003
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