Smooth landing

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:17 AM ET

The silence at the Saddledome was almost deafening. Marie-France Dubreuil said she could hear the crowd stop breathing as she entered her rotational lift during yesterday's original dance at the world figure skating championships.

"I took the position and it made me laugh because there was not a sound," she said, chuckling.

"I even heard (a few gasps). I smiled and thought, 'Forget about it. I'm not missing this.' "

The most TiVoed moment of the Olympics, Dubreuil suffered a spectacular crash to the ice during the same lift last month and sustained a deep bone bruise on her right hip.

The Montreal couple -- which trains in Lyon, France -- had to withdraw and did not get to perform the free dance in Turin.

But she and Patrice Lauzon got through their salsa/rumba combination unscathed yesterday, earning 4.86 points for the lift -- better than the rotational lifts of leaders Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria and the French couple, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder, in third.

Dubreuil and Lauzon did make adjustments to their signature Butterfly lift, named for Madame Butterfly in which it first appeared. It was also the first one-handed lift executed in ice dance.

"The entry is a bit different," Dubreuil said. "Since I have my legs crossed, it's not only on one leg. I can squeeze (Lauzon's) hand but, if the hands let go, I still have the legs to hold on.

"(At the Olympics) I only had the one leg and he couldn't do anything to help or I couldn't help myself if something goes wrong."

And of course, this time, the exit was a bit different, too.

"Yes," she said, laughing.

"The other one was too much deductions."

Dubreuil and Lauzon skate last in today's free dance, which starts at 3:40 p.m.

Denkova and Staviski, the 22nd of the 24 couples to skate, won't feel comfortable in their position until after the competition is over.

"We must remember that it is not over yet," Staviski said. "The competition is still going."

But Delobel and Schoenfelder, the 20th couple to skate, were a little surprised their original dance was ranked one better than the Canadians.

"We know they're really good performers and I think they skated very well," said Schoenfelder, who was fourth at Olympics. "I would consider that we have a chance at the podium."

Canadians Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe held onto eighth, logging a personal-best 52.52.


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