February 21, 2006
Dubreuil, Lauzon withdraw
Bruising from a bad fall prevents the ice dance contenders from finishing
KATHY RUMLESKI -- London Free Press

Patrice Lauzon skated alone yesterday and only in practice.

He and partner Marie-France Dubreuil, both of Longueuil, Que., withdrew from the ice dancing competition, waiting until the event began yesterday to make the announcement, hoping that by delaying they could find a way to skate.

Dubreuil fell during a lift and hit her hip on the ice in the original-dance routine on Sunday night. X-rays taken of her hip, pelvis and back showed no fractures, but her hip was badly bruised.

"I sent him to practice alone this morning," Dubreuil said, leaning on crutches. "I wanted him to skate because if I was going to try to skate, I wanted him to be strong and solid so I could lean on him a little bit more."

In a strong performance, Russians Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov won the gold medal, with a combined score of 200.64 after the free dance.

"There was a lot of pressure, but we did very well," Navka said. "I don't know what to say, just 'Thank God.' It's not the pressure to be the favourite, but the pressure of the Olympics."

Tanith Belbin, who grew up in Kingston and recently received her U.S. citizenship, won the silver medal with partner Benjamin Agosto. Their combined score was 196.06.

Ukrainians Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov won bronze with 195.85 points.

The free dance competition did not change the top three positions from the original dance.

Dubreuil and Lauzon were sitting sixth after the original.

"My little fingers couldn't hang on," Dubreuil said of her slip. She was hanging on to Lauzon's arm -- and he, her leg -- during a rotational lift that was almost completed when she fell.

"At first, I blamed myself. We were very close to our Olympic dream. Now I know your career hangs by a thread."

Dubreuil, wearing jeans, a black shirt and red Canada vest, instead of the costume she should have been wearing, spent the day receiving myriad treatments, including acupuncture, ice and hot baths, trying anything.

Dubreuil said she was feeling 70 per cent better than the night before and wants to skate at the world championships next month in Calgary.

She planned to have further tests today to help determine when it might be safe to start training.

"For sure we'll do everything we can to skate in Calgary," Lauzon said.

Four other couples had falls during their original dances, including Italians Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, who came out of retirement to compete in these Games. They were in first place after the compulsory dance. They ended the competition in sixth.

Dubreuil said she heard about the other falls while in hospital.

"At the time, I thought my hip was broken, so I didn't really care about what was going on on the ice."

Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe of Windsor finished 11th.

Judges marked strictly, not awarding any couple -- not even the golden Russians -- personal-best scores.

Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov of the U.S., coached by Shae-Lynn Bourne, a Chatham native and a world champion, finished 14th.