Tragedy, to a dance for gold?

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

CALGARY -- In 1984, in Sarajevo, Paul Martini and Barbara Underhill experienced an Olympic pairs skating disaster.

Three weeks later, at Worlds in Ottawa, they won gold.

Could it happen again here? Could Canada's Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon do the same in dance?

Could the duo that watched their Olympics go up in smoke when Dubreuil suffered a spectacular fall at Torino 2006, rewrite the Martini-Underhill story?

With seven of the 12 Olympic medallists not here - including all four gold medal winners - combined with the usual home country expectations of performance-enhancing judging, there was hope Canadians would improve dramatically on their Olympic results.

But who expected Dubreuil and Lauzon to sit second only to Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria after the compulsory dance here yesterday?

A SURPRISE?

The only Olympic dance medallists on the property, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin of the U.S., the Olympic silver medalists from Torino, sit third.

Then again, they were fourth after the compulsories in Torino and two duos dropped out, so should it be a surprise?

"We were happy with the way we skated most of all," said Dubreuil. "There's a very small margin between us so it's interesting. And it felt amazing. We feel so blessed and lucky to be here."

She said injury - a bone bruise on her hip which prevented them from practising until last week - wasn't a problem.

"It's good. When the music starts and I skate, it's good."

The two figured they bought a big break when the compulsory draw came up waltz instead of polka. It was also waltz at the Olympics.

"I was praying for the waltz," she said. "We might not have been able to practise a polka in time. Also the polka has a lot of external rotation with the hip."

Martini said he had to admit the thought of the same story-line crossed his mind before he put on the headsets in the CBC booth where he works as a colour man.

"Absolutely. The Olympics are a strange beast. They can be cruel. They were cruel to us and they were cruel to them.

REALLY, REALLY BAD FALL

"For us, we had a really, really bad fall. On the side-by-side spin, Barbara took herself out and then took me out, too. It was like bowling for dollars."

In Torino, Dubreuil fell out of a lift.

"The next event is the original dance. That's where it happened," said Martini. "It's their key competition. Now they go into what undid them in Torino."


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