Linichuk, Karponosov Sweep Dance Medals
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) _ Former Olympic champions Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov swept the medals in the ice dance event at the European Figure Skating Championships without even putting on skates.
The Newark, Del.-based coaches made it 4 1/2 of the top 5 when world and Olympic champions Oksana Gritschuk and Yevgeny Platov of Russia captured their first European ice dance title ahead of two other couples coached by Linichuk and Karponosov.
Second went to another Russian couple, Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov, who did a whimsical Russian folk dance with exaggerated gestures and intricate steps and turns.
Third went to Ukraine’s Irina Romanova and Igor Yaroschenko
All three Russian pairs train in Newark, Del., where they were invited to go after the Soviet Union and its state system for training collapsed.
``For the moment, conditions in Delaware are excellent. The results prove it,″ Platov said. ``So we are not going to change our plans to stay there.″
``We were invited by the university to go overseas and train there. We had a rather difficult situation in Russia. The Russian goverment was not in very good shape at the time,″ said Karponosov, who won the Olympic ice dance gold with Linichuk in 1980 at Lake Placid, N.Y.
``Things in Russia have changed to better now. But in Delaware, for example, we don’t have to travel for an hour from our home to the rink, and there are so many things to make our life easier than we had in Moscow, especially the conditions in the ice rink.″
Fourth went to France’s Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat. Anissina was born in Moscow.
Irina Lobatcheva and Ilya Averbukh _ Anissina’s former partner _ were fifth.
Linichuk also trains the fifth-place couple and formerly trained Anissina.
With an energetic routine to the screaming trumphets of Latin music, Gritschuk and Platov scored nearly all 5.8s and 5.9s, except for one 5.7.
Their program had the bounce and fast movements that characterized their rock ‘n’ roll number that won the Olympic title for them two years ago.
``We like this routine a lot,″ Gritschuk said. ``It’s a new style for us, new movements and elements, and we just enjoy it.″
Five-time champion Surya Bonaly of France captured a close women’s short program, with narrow margins separating the top four.
Bonaly edged 16-year-old Irina Slutskaya of Russia for first in a vote that had to go to the third tie-breaking procedure.
Both ended up with three firsts and two seconds on the majority of the judges’ cards, and Bonaly got the overall nod.
Germany’s Tanja Szewczenko and Russia’s Maria Butyrskaya followed, but the top spot could have gone to any of them as the first-place votes of the nine judges were spread among the four.
The top three had the best chance in today’s free skating, but Butyrskaya is not completely out of contention.
A sixth title would tie Bonaly with Sonja Henie and Katarina Witt for consecutive European wins, although Bonaly has never won an Olympic medal. Henie and Witt captured five golds between them.