Sunday, October 28, 2001
Kraatz and Bourne have golden dreams
By TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun
COLORADO SPRINGS - They're not Olympic gold medals. Not even if you squint.
But they were the first gold medals available on the road to the Winter Olympics. And Canada won two.
Never before in the 20-year history of Skate America, the traditional skating season initial international, has Canada ever won two gold medals.
Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz can't be considered solid gold hopes for Salt Lake City - not like defending world pairs champions Jamie Sale and David Pelletier. But by winning the Skate America dance gold here yesterday and not having the judges in any way, shape or form reject their new programs here this week, you now have to consider them Olympic hopes of some sort.
"The whole week really went very well,'' said Bourne. "Today wasn't our best day. We skated our compulsory dance and our original dance great but I can't say we skated great today. We didn't skate 100 per cent. We did make an error. We know we can skate the free dance much better,'' she said of the string of 5.5s from the judges on the technical line.
'`The altitude here is no fun for anybody,'' she added. ``We did Four Continents last year in Salt Lake City and it's not as high as this. This is the highest any of us will ever compete at in our careers. But the judges could see the technical difficulty. And if we skate it 100 per cent, we think they'll love it. It's a great program and we think the judges could see that.''
CAN'T FIGURE THE JUDGES
You never know how to read these judges. Dance isn't the same deal as pairs or men's and women's singles.
There's every evidence the fix was in four years ago in Nagano as Bourne & Kraatz were placed fourth.
Four times these judges have teased these two by putting them on the podium and giving them bronze medals at Worlds. But last year at Worlds in Kraatz home town of Vancouver, they did them dirt again by moving them back to fourth.
Bourne & Kraatz like to push the envelope, as they did with their 'Riverdance' routine in Nagano. And they did it again here yesterday skating to Michael Jackson music in their free skate final.
It was out there. And the judges artistic line of 5.7, 5.7, 5.7, 5.8, 5.7, 5.8 and 5.8 didn't say 'love it, love it, love it' but didn't say `hate it, hate it, hate it' either.
"We can't wait to show it again next week at Skate Canada in Saskatoon and skate it well next time,'' said Bourne.
"But despite the way we skated, it was great because the judges really liked the program. That was good to see.''
Maybe Canada does have more than the one hope, more than Edmonton Royal Glenora skaters Sale & Pelletier, in figure skating going into the Olympics. Or maybe not. We'll wait and watch.
There are those out there who believe if all the stars and moons are properly alligned, Elvis Stojko still has podium potential. But there is just as good chance he might not be able to climb on it next week when he makes his Olympic year debut at Skate Canada in Saskatoon.
CANADIAN SINGLES UNIMPRESSIVE
No Canadian singles skater made anybody even raise an eyebrow and say 'hmmmmm' here. Certainly not Jennifer Robinson of Windsor who was given marks of 4.8 and 4.9 in the free skate final here last night and finished seventh in a field of 11 behind Michelle Kwan and Sarah Hughes in the women's event.
Saskatchewan's Nicole Watt gets her chance to against Kwan and an even stronger field in Saskatoon (including Russia's Irina Slutskaya), it'll be interesting to see how her finish compares to Robinson's with an eye to Canada only being able to send one woman to Salt Lake City.
Edmonton's Ben Ferreira finished eighth and Ottawa's Fedor Andreev eleventh in the mens event won by Timothy Goebel of U.S. here last night. Ferreira will join Stojko and Vancouver's Emanuel Sandhu in a juiced-up Skate Canada men's field which includes Russia's Alexei Yagudin.
Bourne & Kraatz don't have any of last year's podium people to compete against in Saskatoon, either. But that, they say, doesn't matter at this stage of the season.
"We're getting our programs out there,'' she said of these Skate America and Skate Canada test drives.
"This is just the start. The Olympics will be the peak.''
2002 Games Figure Skating Coverage