According to results of two days of the competitions, Russian figure skaters Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze have by right taken first place in the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City (optional programme). Silver prize was awarded to Canadian sportsmen Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, who were blameless, though did not show anything superstriking to the public. Their two-year-old programme was met with ovation. Well, probably it is time to congratulate the Russian sportsmen? No, nothing of the kind. The world’s scornful attitude towards Russia seems to have spread to sport sphere too. The talk of the town is football, flagrant attitude of international championship’s organizers and referees towards Russian teams Spartak and Lokomotiv. There is much to remember not only about football. Now one tries to deprive our figure skaters of the deserved victory, to humiliate them, to vulgarize their achievement. The Canadian couple, that seems to have celebrated their victory beforehand, continued to play for public as the results of the performance became known: pathetic looks, tears… Canadian and American press accustomed to show effects supported them at once and turned the Canadian couple’s defeat into the real political scandal. An ABC correspondent came to the point of uttering the scandal could grow further, “if the United States interferes in the story.” Because in this case, US figure skaters would have a good chance to move from their fourth place to the third. As a result, International Skaters Union got under the thumb of public and media’s reaction. Yesterday, internal investigation was initiated by the judging. As if there is information that “French and Russian referees concluded a bargain,” that allowed to the Russian figure skaters to obtain the gold. In the meanwhile, the day before yesterday, Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were invited to RTR TV channel: they appeared in direct broadcast and were congratulated. The modest figure skaters kept self-respect and preferred not to speak about the backstage squabbles. They cannot be robbed now of their victory: according to existing regulations, the results of the competitions cannot be revised. While answering the question of the programme’s leader to whom they would award the Olympic gold, Sikarulidze simply answered: “To Russia.” That is all. We have won. The fight is over. Congratulations, dear winners!
Sergei Yugov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Vera Solovieva
NTV photograph: Russian figure skaters Yelena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/02/13/36990.html