Russian ice dancers hold meeting to defuse controversy

February 21, 2010|Philip Hersh, John Cherwa | Staff And Wire Reports

Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin wasted no time in trying to muffle the blanket condemnation that has followed their original dance interpretation of Australian aboriginal costumes and music.

After finishing their compulsory dance Friday night, the Russians draped Canadian aboriginal blankets over their shoulders as they received first-place marks.

Tewanee Joseph, chief executive of the Four Host First Nations, gave the traditional blankets of the Coast Salish tribal group to the Russians at a meeting the skaters hoped could help defuse the controversy before Sunday's original dance.

Joseph said Saturday the Russians presented him with some of their Olympic team's pins and banners and a medallion specially created for these games.

"They were so friendly and so kind to us," Shabalin said of the Four Host First Nations leader. "We hope we will become friends, so that's why we wear it [the blanket] today."

The International Skating Union decided that this season's version of the 2-minute 30-second original dance should use folk themes.

That led Domnina and Shabalin, the reigning world champions, to create a program with what they believed to be Australian aboriginal music and to perform it wearing brown face, tribal paint and costumes with clumps of faux foliage.

-- Philip Hersh

Ski Jumping

Normal hill, large hill, what's the difference? Apparently not much. The medal platform for the large hill was identical to that of the earlier normal hill. Simon Ammann of Switzerland won the gold, followed by Adam Malysz of Poland and Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria.

Neither Americans, Peter Frenette (32nd) and Nick Alexander (40th), made it out of the qualification round.

-- Associated Press

Cross-Country Skiing

Marcus Hellner of Sweden was the winner in the men's 30-kilometer pursuit. He covered the course in 1 hour 15 minutes, 11.4 seconds. He won by two seconds over Tobias Angerer of Germany. Johan Olsson of Sweden took home the bronze.

Freestyle Skiing

The U.S., which hasn't made the finals in women's freestyle aerials since 1998, qualified three skiers. Emily Cook finished the first round in fifth place and Lacy Schnoor was in sixth. Ashley Caldwell was the last qualifier in 12th.

Alla Tsuper of Belarus led the competition followed by three Chinese skiers. Defending Olympic champion Evelyn Leu of Switzerland fell on her second jump and did not make the finals.


The U.S. men's team shook off a skip controversy and reinstated John Shuster in the lead position and won its second match in a row, 8-7 over Sweden. The team is 2-4 and probably out of medal contention.

The U.S. women rallied to beat Britain, 6-5, in a match that went one extra end. The U.S. has now won two in a row and stands with a 2-3 record.

-- John Cherwa

Georgian luger is laid to rest

Hundreds of people gathered in Bakuriani, Georgia, to pay final respects to a luger killed during a practice run at the Olympics.

Twenty-one-year old Nodar Kumaritashvili was buried Saturday in the cemetery of a tiny church in the snowy village.

Kumaritashvili died last week after slamming into a steel pole on the luge course hours before the opening of the Games.

-- Associated Press

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