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(no title)

Source: AP News
Date: March 4, 1990

Defending world champion Kurt Browning of Canada figures to be in the middle of the most competitive event at the 1990 World Figure Skating Championships beginning Monday.

Browning was dazzling last March in Paris, when he won the gold medal, and he will have to be just as good this time if he is to survive challenges from Viktor Petrenko of the Soviet Union, Petr Barna of Czechoslovakia, Grzegorz Filipowski of Poland and possibly Christopher Bowman of Los Angeles.

"The other guys are so good, they pull the best skating out of me," Browning says. "I have the kind of program I still believe will take away a gold medal, it if goes the way I want it to."

Of the four events - men's and women's singles, pairs and dance - the men's singles will be the most wide open.

Defending champion Midori Ito of Japan is in a class by herself in women's singles. Soviets Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov, in pairs, and Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, in dance, are heavily favored to repeat.

For color and controversy, the French-Canadian dance entry of Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay, representing France, will be in the spotlight.

These championships will have a greater focus than ever on jumping, especially with the diminutive Ito bopping across the ice. And a half-dozen men are capable of landing a quadruple toe loop, which only Browning has pulled off in major competition.

These are the last world championships with compulsory figures. The tracings of figure eights, worth 20 percent of the total score, usually are strengths of European champion Petrenko and three-time American champion Jill Trenary.

Absent in the men's event for the first time since the early 1980s will be Alexander Fadeev, the 1985 world champion. Newcomer Viacheslav Zagorodniuk, the 1989 world junior champion, has bumped Fadeev off the Soviet team.

Browning and Bowman both have had less-than-memorable seasons. After struggling and not winning any major international meets, Browning barely beat Elvis Stojko to repeat as Canadian champion last month. Browning benefitted from generous marks for a weak long program.

Bowman withdrew from the U.S. nationals due to back spasms, opening the way for 18-year-old Todd Eldredge to add the American title to his 1988 world junior crown. Paul Wylie, who was in the 1988 Olympics and worlds, also will represent the United States.

The Canadian fans will focus attention on Browning, Stojko, new women's champion Lisa Sargeant, making her world debut.

In pairs, Gordeeva and Grinkov, the Olympic and defending world champs, face their stiffest challenge from Canadians Cindy Landry and Lyndon Johnston, the '89 world silver medallists.

But the dance might get more attention because of the elegance of Klimova and Ponomarenko and the daring of the Duchesnays.

While Klimova and Ponomarenko take the traditional, classical route and perform to a medley from My Fair Lady, the Duchesnays - natives of Aylmer, Quebec, who can compete for France because of their family's roots - promise to be as innovative as ever.

In their free-dance finale, they will portray a struggle for freedom, starting slowly and reaching a fever pitch skating to the music of South American Indian reed pipes, flutes and guitars.