Despite a twizzle - yes, a twizzle - ice dancers are still in medal hunt

TERRY JONES

, Last Updated: 8:50 AM ET

GOTEBORG, Sweden -- It was a twizzle.

Coulda been worse. Coulda been a sequin.

But no. It was a twizzle.

Understand that it's difficult for the self-respecting hockey writers here covering the World Figure Skating Championships to use the word twizzle in the first paragraph. But there was just no avoiding making mention of the twizzle here yesterday.

Tessa Virtue only had three of them. Scott Moir had four.

As a result, the Canadian pair dropped from second to third after the original dance.

FOLLOWED UP GORY TO GLORY

The night before we had a blood and guts story which was the surprise bronze medal from Jessica Dube and Bryce Davison - the courageous Canadian pair who were involved in the gory accident in which her face was sliced for 83 stitches 13 months earlier. They become the first Canadian pair on the podium since Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who won gold at the Olympics in 2002.

As a result, there was no avoiding the twizzle story yesterday.

Virtue and Moir are in a position to provide Canada with the first two-medal Worlds since Elvis Stojko won gold, and Victor Kraatz and Shae-Lynn Bourne won bronze in 1997 in Lausanne.

So you had to write about the twizzle. Some call it a travelling spin.

Whatever you call it, the Canadians were one short on her side of the side-by-side moves and dropped down a position going into tonight's free skate final.

"I did one less rotation than Scott did," said the 18-year-old of the little bitty twizzle that let them down on a night when the costuming was so bizarre it looked like Halloween out there, with skaters wearing kilts, cowboy outfits, grass skirts and all sorts of creations that still make it difficult to take dance seriously.

But the fact the London, Ont., duo dropped a position because of a missing twizzle was a testimonial to the changes in the sport.

"Thank God for the new judging system," said Moir.

He was asked if he was being serious.

"Absolutely. Now it's a sport. You have to do it. We didn't do one and we took a deduction," added the 22-year-old of the figure skating event where the fix has traditionally been in as skaters used to move up notch by notch with retirements.

It was dance fixing - the French judge trading a federation vote in pairs to assure a France gold in dance, which resulted in the Salt Lake 2002 scandal which cost Canada's Sale and Pelletier a gold medal. That is until the crime was solved and golds were hung around their necks at the end of the Olympics.

"A twizzle is now a big technical mistake," said William Thompson, the new CEO of Skate Canada.

"You can't make a mistake like that at this level. It costs you 1.5 points plus."

A fall, like the one Canadian-turned-American Tanith Belbin suffered in the compulsory dance two nights earlier, is only a deduction of one. These twizzles are, obviously, not to be taken lightly.

"We're just starting to understand what the new marks mean," said Moir.

"Our mark was a little lower than what we've been getting and what we expected. But we made a mistake and we were penalized for it. That's good.

"It's nothing we can't make up tomorrow," he added.

FRENCH TEAM LEADS

First in both programs leading into tonight's final were Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France with 107.96 points. The Russians Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski moved up to second with 103.97 with the Canadians are third at 103.52.

Kingston, Ont., product Belbin, and American team partner Benjamin Agosto -bronze medal winners last year - remained fifth after making news with a rare fall in the event 48 hours earlier.

At least it was a fall. While there is generally no falling in dance, a fall seems so much more, well, sporty.

The good news is that Virtue will likely never forget a twizzle again.


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