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An eyewitness report from the center of the figure skating controversy.

Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Monday night was exciting. Not only did I see one of the roughest collisions I've seen in any sport (incredibly, in pairs figure skating), I witnessed what is being described as one of the greatest controveries in Olympic history.

I was numbed when top skaters Jamie Sale and Anton Sikharulidze collided during warmups, shaking up each of them. Then, just like everyone but the judges, I was absolutely shocked at the final results, in which the gold medal went to Sikhrulidze and Elena Berezhnaya, who were clearly

outperformed. (What's worse, you can't imagine how tough it is to type Sikhurulidze and Berezhnaya constantly on deadline).

The final result was the biggest discrepancy I've seen in more than a quarter century covering

sports. I was preparing to write about the end of a 40-year Russian dynasty when my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe the scores for Sale and Peltier, whom veteran observers claim had one of the best-executed, most flawless pairs performances in some time.

We all knew it was not a matter of "if" we would have a figure skating controversy, but when. But this one kicked things up a notch. I knew I was watching the beginning of a tidal wave.

The next day, I took a break by going to the small Jell-O museum (it"s big in Utah) downtown. I learned that the microwaves in Jell-O and the human brain are exactly the same. The exception would be figure skating judges. Thousands here are saying figure skatiing judges have no brain waves.

It's off to biathlon today. It'll be good to witness a tame sport.

Best wishes,David



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