Will Canucks get shafted?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 6:28 AM ET

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Second by a single secret vote in an insane system designed to conceal corruption and protect cheating judges.

You could go that way.

A grand setup for a great showdown for gold as the Canadians, with the war in Iraq for a background, skate for world peace today against a Russian couple \"on enemy ground,\'\' battling back with Little Richard and Elvis.

Or there\'s that angle.

Welcome to Washington 2003 - and one of the oddest odysseys you\'re ever likely to see in sport.

If it is sport.

However you want to view it, Canada\'s Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz sit second to Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh of Russia after the original dance at the World Figure Skating Championships.

And today, in their final appearance as Olympic-eligible skaters, the Canadians will have their last chance to finally win a gold and a world championship - going against the defending world champions who will also be skating in their last ISU event.

But first the judging.

FANS ARE PROTESTING

What happened here yesterday is exactly why figure skating fans, many carrying placards and many more wearing buttons decrying secret judging, will protest here today. Yesterday in front of the White House the antiwar demonstrations had dwindled to dozens. But today a figure skating protest only seven blocks away in front of the MCI Center will swell to hundreds.

The Russians beat the Canadians five judges to four here yesterday in the original dance segment. But it could just as easily have worked out that the Canadians beat the Russians 5-4. Or, it could have been 6-3. Either way. Who knows?

And who knows who voted for whom? Judges aren\'t identified by country and which judges give which scores isn\'t identified either.

Some Russian mobster or vote-trading French federation member could have got to two-thirds of the judges - the fix could be in like it\'s never been before.

Under the silly system being used this year by Ottavio Cinquanta\'s ISU, there are 14 anonymous judges, with the scores of nine of them randomly selected to be the ones which decide a competition.

Anyway, there\'s all that.

But maybe they got it right. Maybe, because the Canadians actually visibly screwed something up, something that seldom happens in dance, they\'re where they should be and the Worlds are unfolding as they should.

Kraatz was visibly upset and, other than one quote, stood with a scowl on his face behind Bourne in the mixed zone and let her do all the talking.

\"We made a small error at the end during our straight-line footwork but nothing too major,\'\' she said \"Maybe a slight deduction. But we\'re still happy with the performance. I think we gave a strong artistic performance as well and we can\'t wait to show our free dance.\'\'

It\'s Canada-Russia tonight and the Canadians are going with a program promoting peace and the Russians with good old rock \'n\' roll.

\"The Russians chose Little Richard and Elvis. The Russians chose rock \'n\' roll,\'\' said Kraatz. \"We like ours.\'\'

FITTING PROGRAM

Bourne said the Canadians\' program fits the world situation.

\"Ours is a very emotional program. The best way to describe it is finding the right way to peace. That\'s the idea of the pro-gram. I\'ve heard people say there are tears in practices when we skate this program. That makes us feel great - that it has an effect on people. We can\'t wait to show it because it really is a great free dance.\'\'

Dance hype.

The Russians have their own spin going.

\"The audience knows the Canadian couple better than us and received them better,\'\' said Lobacheva.

\"We are on \'enemy ground.\'

\"Among the 14 judges on the panel there was no Russian judge and that made us nervous. We were happy that the audience didn\'t whistle when our marks came up and we were in first.

\"Tomorrow is the last day of our career. We will do our rock \'n\' roll and try to do our best. It will be hard without the crowd support, but we\'re ready for that. Actually we\'re glad that it\'s over and one day nearer to the end. We\'re physically and emotionally tired.\'\'

The Canadians claim to be emotionally charged and ready to go for gold.

\"That would be like the cherry on top,\'\' said Bourne. \"Whether or not it happens, we\'re skating great this year. We know that. The audience knows that. I think the judges can see that - just from our marks at the last event and at our nationals. We just feel great and if a gold comes with this, then that\'ll be amazing.\'\'

Tune in tonight for another episode of As the Worlds Turns ...


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