From March 18 to 24 Nagano, Japan, will host Figure Skating World Championship. Some of the best skaters in the world will represent Russia. European and World Champions of 2000 Maria Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, and this year's European Champions Tatiana Totmyanina and Marxim Marinin will compete among pairs. Four times European champion and Olympics medallist Irina Slitskaya, three times European Champion and 1999 World Champion Maria Butyrskaya and many times a medallist of European Championships Victoria Volchkova will skate in ladies nomination. Needless to say Russia expects no less than a victory from her men Evgeny Pluschenko, twice European Champion and 2001 World Champion, and Alexei Yagudin, three times European Champion, three times World Champion and 2002 Olympic Champion, and Alexander Abt, this year's European Championship's medallist. Russian dancers Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Overbuch, Olympic Vice-Champions and many times European Championships medalists, and Tatiana Navka and Poman Kostomarov will hopefully bring Russian viewers many pleasant moments too.
This year's Olympic Champions Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze will not participate in the World Championship in Nagano.
The remarks from the Pope came as "a very strong step towards degradation," "given the rather massive nature of homosexuality" among the Catholic clergy.