Dubreuil, Lauzon dance to silver

ROB BRODIE -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

CALGARY -- If it was indeed the last dance, oh, what a way to say goodbye.

Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon won't go home from the world figure skating championships with the ice dance gold medals, but they left those privileged to be in the Pengrowth Saddledome last night with a memory to last a lifetime.

Just four weeks after being forced to withdraw from the Turin Olympics, the enchanting Canadian couple lived their dream moment by winning the free dance and the silver medals -- their first appearance on the worlds podium in seven tries.

''It was a long journey and there were a lot of emotions tonight,'' said Lauzon, 30. ''There was a lot of pressure (on us), but we did it great and we were very strong.''

Rarely has a medal been more deserved, or more welcomed by an audience that embraced them from the first moment they stepped on the ice at these worlds and helped will them to the biggest accomplishment of their careers.

Every one of them, no doubt, knew full well about the Turin heartbreak. About Dubreuil's fall on a rotational lift seconds from the end of their original dance, that crushed their Olympic dreams and left her with a deep bone bruise on her right hip -- and serious doubts about her ability to even compete this week.

''I can't tell you (how much it means),'' said Dubreuil, 31. ''Four weeks ago, I was in a wheelchair and far from thinking I could be that strong here.

''When I came here, even at the beginning of the week, I was doing all I could to show I wasn't limping, even a little bit.''

Earlier in the week, Dubreuil admitted to being about 85% healthy. She didn't get there alone.

''Patrice has been really strong and really, really helped me,'' she said. ''I have so many people to share this medal with ... we didn't win it by ourselves. I was in a thousand little pieces four weeks ago and all these people helped me out.''

And so it was that they were able to complete a remarkable rise from seventh at the Moscow worlds a year ago to the silver medals just 12 months later ... not exactly an easy leap in figure skating's most fickle discipline.

PERFECT VEHICLE

But their Somewhere In Time free dance, the routine that celebrates the deep love the Montrealers have for each other, was the right vehicle at the right time. Insiders knew Dubreuil and Lauzon came to these worlds with the best finishing act, and it didn't let them down last night.

When it was done, Lauzon tenderly kissed the hand of Dubreuil, who appeared close to tears. Then came the wait for the verdict.

Their score, 100.57 points, was enough to win the night, but not the gold. Bulgaria's Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski posted a total competition score of 199.14 to edge the Canadians by a scant 0.45 points -- a result the Canucks' coach, Muriel Zazoui, mildly disputed.

The bronze went to Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (196.74), who were the silver medalists at the Turin Olympics and 2005 Moscow worlds.

There was more good news to go along with the silver -- Canada's first medal at these worlds. Their result, combined with the 10th-place finish recorded by Vancouver's Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe, will allow Canada to boost its ice dance complement for the 2007 Tokyo worlds to three teams.

''Goal accomplished,'' said Lowe, who battled through a case of food poisoning.

For Dubreuil and Lauzon, the last moment was the sweetest of them all. Their signature dance, an adoring crowd willing them to a cherished spot on the podium ... if Dubreuil and Lauzon say their farewells -- and that decision won't be made just yet -- it couldn't end much better.

''The energy of the crowd, a lot of love and support, and our skating and our passion and our love ... I think everything came together all at once,'' said Dubreuil. ''We really enjoyed these four minutes.''

rob.brodie@ott.sunpub.com


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