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  • Figure skating scandal at Sochi?

  • SOCHI, Russia — It sure didn't take the 2014 Winter Olympics long to turn into the circus of the bizarre.
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  • SOCHI, Russia — It sure didn't take the 2014 Winter Olympics long to turn into the circus of the bizarre.
    How do you say "ice dancing" in Russian?
    An old-fashioned skating scandal erupted Saturday at the Iceberg Sports Palace during the team competition involving none other than charges of judges exchanging votes.
    The allegations floated by an unidentified Russian coach in the French sports publication L'Equipe said the Americans and Russians have conspired against Canada to help each win gold medals — Russia in the team competition, the United States in ice dancing.
    It's really a minor scuffle when compared to the alleged exchange in 2002 involving Canadian and Russian pairs that ignited a scandal at the Salt Lake City Games that forced the International Figure Skating Union to remake its judging system.
    In Salt Lake City, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia won over Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada despite an obvious mistake in the long program. The ensuing controversy, perpetuated by a long history of such skating practices, led the International Olympic Committee to award dual gold medals.
    This time, the alleged manipulation put the world's best ice dancing teams who train in the same Canton, Mich., rink at the center of something they say they knew nothing about until asked after their performances.
    In the end, American world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White were superior to easily win the ice dance short to help the United States finish third overall and advance to the team finale today. Russia led with 37 points after the completion of the four short programs in the new team event. Canada had 32 points, the United States 27, Japan 24 and Italy 23. France missed the final cut of five countries by one point.
    Canada wouldn't have caught Russia had Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir won. But the Russians didn't need any help after Virtue stumbled on a twizzle-a multi-rotational one-foot turn-to take judging out of the equation.
    Ice dancing's Big Fizzle could be blamed on a misguided twizzle, and not the notion that former Cold War rivals banded together for some shenanigans behind the scenes.
    Yet questions about the allegation led U.S. figure skating officials to release a statement: "Comments made in a L'Equipe story are categorically false. There is no 'help' between countries. We have no further response to rumors, anonymous sources or conjecture."
    Discussion of what might transpire at the Sochi Games during the ice dancing competition in the coming days didn't faze the Michigan-based teams.
    "We're here for our moment, what Tessa and I made on the ice," Moir said.
    White, a University of Michigan student, said after 17 years with Davis, little can distract them.
    "We live by our own expectations and don't let external things big or small play into the expectations," he said.
    The ice dancing competition was important to boost the American's chances of advancing to the long program finale. But it also served to preview the individual event between longtime rivals who train under Russian Marina Zoueva.
    Davis and White have traded victories at the major competitions in the past four years with the Canadians.
    Virtue and Moir won the 2010 Olympic gold medal as well as the '10 and 2012 world championships.
    But Davis and White won the '11 and '13 world title, becoming the first American pair to do it. They also bested their rivals in the Grand Prix Finale in December.
    Their styles are similar and sometimes it is difficult to say who is superior in any given performance.
    Both teams do a Foxtrot, quickstep, Foxtrot for the short dance. The Americans skated Saturday night to "My Fair Lady," the Canadians "Dream a Little Dream," "Muskrat Ramble" and "Heaven."
    But Virtue and Moir couldn't overcome the twizzle that has bothered them all season. Virtue went into the move too slow to perform it correctly.
    "It wasn't a mental lapse," she said. "I thought our approach was pretty bang on."
    Just not "bang on" enough to overcome Meryl and Davis, who scored three points more than their training partners with a dazzling display of spins and twists.
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