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Gritschuk, Platov lead ice dance

March 18, 1997

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) _ Olympic champions Oksana Gritschuk and Yevgeny Platov, pursuing a fourth straight title, took the lead today in ice dancing at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Later in the day was the pairs short program in which defending world champions Marina Yeltsova and Andrei Bushkov are expected to be pushed by teammate Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev, reinstated on the Russian team after missing the European championships.

After the two compulsory ice dances, Gritschuk and Platov were solidly in first. Angelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov of Russia were second with Canada’s Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz third.

French couples Sophie Moniotte and Pascal Lavanchy and Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat followed.

Americans Elisabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow were sixth.

The compulsory dances offered two extremes. The first was the Golden Waltz, devised by 1992 Olympic gold medalists Marina Klimova and Sergi Ponomarenko.

For the waltz, Gritschuk and Platov scored between between 5.7 and 5.9. In the compulsories the marks are for technique, timing and expression.

Then the rhythm speeded up to the Rhumba.

Gritschuk and Platov skated last and scored again in the 5.7 to 5.9 range. They were the only dancers to score 5.9 in the afternoon on a scale up to 6.0.

The biggest surprise came when the Canadian judge gave Bourne and Kraatz first in the rhumba. Every other judge gave Gritschuk and Platov firsts on their card in both dances.

Krylova and Ovsiannikov edged into second ahead of the Canadians with four of seven judges putting them in second. The couples tied on the first dance.

The initial portion of the ice dance competition counts 20 per cent of the total score.

Next comes the original dance to the tango beat. That will be Thursday afternoon with the final free dance Friday night.

The men have their short program on Wednesday. American Todd Eldredge begins defense of his world title against Canadian Elvis Stojko, who took the world title the two previous years.

Alexei Urmanov, the Olympic champion from 1994 and European champion this year, and Russian teammate Ilya Kulik are also in contention. Both did quadruple jumps in Sunday’s qualifying.

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