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Friday, 8 February, 2002, 14:12 GMT
Skaters asked to tone down act
Marika and Vitaliy Humphreys
Marika and Vitaliy work together too closely for some
A Welsh couple who are Britain's ice skating entry in the Salt Lake City Games have been criticised for performing sets that are considered too sexy.

Husband-and-wife team Marika Humphreys and Vitaliy Baranov from Deeside in north Wales are the British champions in their sport.

Marika and Vitaliy Humphreys
Marika and Vitaliy are hot on the ice

But their close-up work on the ice has left Olympic officials hot under the collar and Games judges have been told to give marks on footwork, rather than on skimpy outfits and lifts that leave little to the imagination.

The clampdown on their more creative moves comes as the 17-day Games open to a television audience of billions.

The Humphreys are part of the medal hopefuls in Team GB who have been at a training camp in Alberta, Canada, in the run-up to the tournament.

They arrived fresh from the last month's European Figure Skating Championship in which they competed with no adverse comments from the judges on their routine.

Torvill and Dean
Marika has the same coach as Torvill and Dean

But this has cut no ice with Winter Games officials who fear their performances are just a little too hot for the Olympics.

Marika Humphreys does not understand the sudden demands for displays of modesty in a country whose biggest exports include pop stars with overtly sexual routines.

She said: "You have people like Britney Spears dancing and doing things all the time that are quite extrovert.

"Ballet uses split moves, high kicks and so on and nobody thinks of that as undignified particularly, so why should skating be that way?"

Ironically, Marika has been coached for a number of years by Betty Calloway, who helped Torvill and Dean - considered the epitome of sporting good taste - to Olympic Gold in 1984 with their stylish and graceful performance of Ravel's Bolero.

Figure skating coach Betty Calloway
Betty Calloway coached Torvill and Dean - and now Marika

One Britain-based international figure-skating championship judge, Helen Selby, has denied claims that the couple's competitiveness would be "sterilised" by the morality moves.

She said; "There are so many moves they could make, that I don't see that it has been sterilised - I do think it has been improved in the right direction."

The couple have been left hoping that this frosty reception will cut no ice with spectators and they can melt the hearts of the judges.

Wales's other contribution to the Salt Lake Games in the singer Charlotte Church who is to perform at the event's closing ceremony.

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BBC Wales's Claire Summers
"The powers that be have kicked up a fuss and left ice dancing accused of being too saucy."


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See also:

07 Feb 02 | Features
07 Feb 02 | Features
06 Feb 02 | Skating
21 Jan 02 | Skating
16 Jan 02 | Entertainment
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