Canadians bronzed

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:59 AM ET

Good thing the roof at the Civic Centre is fastened securely.

Otherwise, Benoit Venne might have leaped right through it.

Or the raucous capacity crowd of 7,550 might have blown the darned thing off last night.

While Les Supremes didn\'t take home Canada\'s first-ever gold medal at a world synchronized skating championships, the bronze they wound up with was hardly reason for tears or disappointment. Even after winning Friday\'s short program.

\"We couldn\'t have asked them for any more,\" said a drained Venne, who spent the last 30 seconds of their delightful free program bounding almost as high as the boards, fists thrust triumphantly over his head, before lifting assistant coach Lyne Forget into the air with a gleeful hug.

\"We were fifth (at worlds) last year. Anything better than that would have been good.\"

For two nights in an old building that teemed with energy, Les Supremes lived up to their name. The 20-skater team skated nearly flawlessly again last night, with passion and precision through every lift, intersection and intricate move. They earned marks ranging from 5.3-5.8 for technical merit, and 5.6-5.9 for presentation.

\"The more they do this number, the better it becomes,\" said Forget. \"But we couldn\'t have imagined this performance. They did it so beautifully.\"

SWEDES FLAWLESS

So, too, did the gold and silver medallists. Sweden\'s Team Surprise, which was somewhat generously placed second after a short program that included two falls, left no room for debate last night. Their brilliant performance earned two perfect 6.0 scores for presentation. It was enough to dethrone Finland\'s Marigold Ice Unity, the defending world champions, who had to settle for silver after a strong skate of their own.

Canada\'s second team, Fusion, of Richmond Hill, wound up eighth.

Now, Venne and Forget will begin plotting how to take Les Supremes to the top of the world podium. Venne knows the time will soon be right. And he\'s a patient man.

\"It took me 19 years before this team won a national championship,\" he said. \"We will get to that place (world champion) in time.\"

What will it take to get there? Venne uses a football analogy to describe the approach.

\"You take what you have that\'s good, and you maintain it,\" he said. \"Then you look at what you need, and go get it.\"

The two-day event attracted more than 14,000 spectators to the Civic Centre, making it the best-attended synchro worlds in its short four-year history.

\"We\'re ecstatic at the support that this community showed us,\" said Peter Montopoli, CEO of The Skating Events Trust, Skate Canada\'s event management arm.

The ISU has already awarded two future events to Canada -- next year\'s Four Continents Championship in Hamilton, and the 2005 junior worlds in Kitchener.

Ottawa\'s next major skating event will be the 2004 Skate Canada Junior Nationals, likely at the Nepean Sportsplex or Jim Durrell Centre, in early February.


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