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Urmanov Keeps Russia On Line for Sweep

January 24, 1997

PARIS (AP) _ Things are working out just fine for the Russians in their bid to sweep the titles at the European Figure Skating Champion.

It took an extraordinary set of circumstances, but when the skating had finished Thursday night, Alexei Urmanov was the second Russian winner in two events.

Urmanov jumped from sixth to first in the final of the men’s program. Most astonishingly, he moved from second to first without doing any skating.

Earlier Thursday, Olympic and three-time world champions Oksana Gritschuk and Yevgeny Platov received a record-equaling number of perfect 6.0s in the original tango to build on their lead in the ice dance. Only a major mishap in today’s final free dance portion would keep them from winning the title.

The women also begin their competition today. Last year, Irina Slutskaya became the first former Soviet or Russian woman to capture an individual title.

In one of the most topsy-turvy men’s competition, Urmanov came out ahead, surprising even him.

``Yesterday, I thought that these championships were over for me,″ Urmanov said. ``Now I am sitting here with the gold medal.

``It’s unbelievable.″

Urmanov had seven triples in his classical program, which earned him marks of 5.7 to 5.9 and first place from all the judges. He was the only skater to do a triple axel-triple toe loop combination in addition to another clean triple axel.

Second was Frenchman Philippe Candeloro, with defending champion Viacheslav Zagorodniuk of Ukraine capturing the bronze medal. Ilya Kulik, who led entering the evening, finished fourth overall.

However, the standings were so mixed up that the order was Zagorodniuk, Urmanov, Kulik and Candeloro before the last skater, Andrei Vlascenko of Germany, skated.

Vlascenko finished sixth, but juggled the placings so much that Urmanov went into first place and Candeloro jumped from fourth to second.

``Even the computer would have a hard time understanding this one,″ Candeloro said.

Kulik finished fifth in the long program and fourth overall. Favored to win the title, he didn’t get a medal after completing just four triples.

Zagorodniuk looked to be the champion just after he skated, completing five triples after finishing in second place in the short program. But he was knocked from first to third when the final marks were in.

Candeloro had the French public behind him with his portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte on ice. He didn’t make any mistakes with six triples, but he singled out of a second triple axel, and that cost him.

Candeloro had to restart his program after his music stopped 15 seconds into his routine.

``I had to reconcentrate. I felt a lack of power in my legs. The momentum was gone,″ Candeloro said.

In the ice dance, Gritschuk and Platov had straight 5.9s for the composition mark, then had six perfect 6.0s and three more 5.9s for the presentation.

``We put all of our whole soul into this dance,″ Gritschuk said. ``It was great to see those marks.″

The number of sixes equaled the record of 6.0′s in a European championship original dance. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean had the same number for presentation for their Paso Doble in 1984.

Gritschuk and Platov had a romantic tango that started with him slowly moving his hand up her leg. Then they swept around the ice with gestures and intricate patterns.

After the music ended, they kept in character when they slowly came together, he still playing the role of the macho lover.

Gritschuk and Platov recently changed coaches, moving to Massachusetts and away from Natalia Liniciuk, who guided them to the Olympic title in 1994.

Second were their former training partners, Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov.

Sophie Moniotte and Pascal Lavanchy moved into third, passing compatriots Marina Anissina and Gwendel Peizerat.

Liniciuk still coaches Krylova-Ovsiannikov in Delaware.

On Wednesday, Russians won the first title of the competition when Marina Yeltsova and Andrei Bushkov took the pairs event. They previously won in 1993 and are the current world champions.

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