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Last Updated: Monday, 13 February 2006, 22:22 GMT
Russians triumph in skating drama
Zhang Dan falls during her routine
China's Zhang Dan won silver despite a crashing fall

Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin sealed Russia's 12th straight Winter Olympics pairs title as fresh controversy hit figure skating.

China's Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao claimed silver despite stopping for nearly four minutes for an injury break.

Zhang Dan recovered after crashing to the ice during an extravagant throw and colliding with the rinkside boards.

The drama came four years after 'Skategate' in 2002 which caused the scoring system to be revamped.

Zhang Dan fell as the pair attempted a rare quadruple Salchow, and injured her knee.

She struggled to her feet, and after consulting officials, continued their routine to wild applause.

Two-time world champions Totmianina and Marinin took gold with a combined total score of 204.48.

We didn't say any words of giving up - we said we could go on
Zhang Hao
Compatriots Shen Xue and Hongbo Zhao won their second straight bronze medal.

They were the first Olympic figure skating medals to be awarded under a complicated new scoring system, introduced after a judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Games.

Britain's 1980 figure skating gold medallist Robin Cousins said there appeared to be confusion over whether a break of longer than two minutes was allowed.

"The Chinese pair only missed one element, and that's why they had a point deducted, but what needs to be looked at is the loophole regarding stoppage time during the performance," he told BBC Sport.

But the International Skating Union (ISU) said it was satisfied with the outcome.

Its rule 351 states: "If (immediate continuation from the point of interruption) is not possible, a period of up to two minutes before the continuation is allowed.

"The two minutes time period commences immediately after the referee's decision is announced to the competitor."

And ISU spokesman Devra Pitt-Getaz said: "A period of no longer than two minutes was used."

Zhang and Zhang had been expected to challenge for the gold but their routine went horribly wrong just moments into their performance.

Going out last, Zhang Dan was left sprawled on the ice after she fell on their opening jump.

After returning to finish the programme, their display earned them a combined total of 189.73 and a standing ovation from the crowd at the Palavela rink.

"We didn't say any words of giving up. We said we could go on," said Zhang Hao.

His partner Zhang Dan received her marks with a huge bandage on her thigh and an ice pack on her knee.

"I think it's a very valuable experience for competition," she said.

Maxim Marinin and TatianaTotmianina
It was perfect skating to end a perfect career
Tatiana Totmianina
"It's so important for myself because I made a mistake on the first element, but I think I can do all the other elements, so why not keep going?"

The Russian winners had recovered from injury and illness to triumph in their last competition together.

Heading into the free skate with a lead of 3.92 points from Saturday's short programme, Totmianina and Marinin put in a flawless display to the music of Romeo and Juliet.

"It was perfect skating to end a perfect career. I can't explain the emotions I feel right now," said a tearful Totmianina.

Marinin added: "It was a great performance. We could feel it."

The Russians appeared less than impressed by the Chinese silver medallists.

Totmianina said of the Zhangs' fall: "I felt nothing special. They were kind of aggressive in the warm-ups and they didn't let us warm up properly. They were already fighting."

Shen and Zhao took bronze with a score of 186.91.




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SEE ALSO
Skating bosses back Chinese pair
14 Feb 06 |  Winter Sports


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