Sunday, December 16, 2001
Grand finale for Bourne, Kraatz
By ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun
KITCHENER -- If what happened Friday night seemed utterly earth-shaking, what was this?
What to call a night on which Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, bopping to the beat of Michael Jackson, took down a pair of world ice dance champions.
Oh, and landed their first perfect 6.0 score ever at an international competition.
All of that, and so much more, evolved from a remarkable evening of ice dance at the ISU's Grand Prix final that had the near-capacity crowd at Kitchener Memorial Auditorium riveted right to the finish.
LOOKS GOOD FOR GAMES
Hard to believe ice dance, with its reputation for being the ultimate in predictability at times, might be described that way. But Bourne and Kraatz, who scored what has to rate as their biggest international victory ever, just might have made this event must-see at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
"Who knows what will happen now (at the Olympics)," said an elated Bourne, 25, of Chatham. "We're extremely ecstatic ... we'd love this to happen one more time, baby."
What happened last night was this. Bourne and Kraatz, with a free program skated to a medley of Michael Jackson hits, won the $50,000 US top prize. Behind them in second were France's Gwendal Peizerat and Marina Anissina, the 2000 world champions. Reigning world champs Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio wound up a stunning fourth, behind Lithuanians Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas.
Kraatz called the result a monumental step for the sport, with the Olympics less than two months away.
"There's four teams now that are really close," said Kraatz, 30, of Vancouver. "It's really important what happened tonight ... it's really opened up the field."
Even Peizerat couldn't help but applaud the decision.
"The final result was fair," he said. "It's a great step for the Salt Lake City Olympics ... It's very good (for the sport)."
The top two teams each had three first-place ordinals, but Italian judge Walter Zuccaro decided the outcome by placing the Italians first, Canadians second and French third. Okay, so this isn't exactly perfect yet.
Bourne and Kraatz had the crowd in their hands from the moment the first notes of Jackson's Billie Jean started their program. U.S. judge Charles Zyr gave the couple a perfect 6.0 for presentation.
"My breath was just taken away by that," admitted Bourne. "All we were envisioning was skating clean, not so much where we could end up."
VICTORY IN DOUBT
There was about an hour of doubt about their finish. Due to a computer glitch in the scoreboard, the French were originally listed as the overall winners. But eventually, Bourne and Kraatz were announced as "official" winners.
Though last night's result certainly gives the Canadians reason to dream of Olympic gold, Kraatz took the cautious route.
"It was a great success, but it's important to understand this was only another international event," he said. "It's not the Olympics."
2002 Games Figure Skating Coverage