SALT LAKE CITY, Reuters
Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, whose 2000 season was virtually wiped out by Bourne’s knee surgery, demonstrated a return to top form with a dominating ice dance victory at the Four Continents Championships on Friday.
Performing in the Delta Center, venue for the 2002 Winter Olympics, Bourne and Kraatz easily won Friday’s free dance to add to their commanding lead from earlier rounds.
Bourne, whose arthroscopic surgery to repair torn ligaments in her left knee kept the pair from defending their national title or competing in the world championships last year, gave the Olympic skating surface rave reviews.
“The ice here is wonderful. It’s fast ice. It’s a really good venue,” she said.
The Canadian national champions a record eight times in the past nine years gave a confident performance to the stirring music “March with Me” sung by Montserrat Caballe, garnering top scores from eight of the nine judges. Only the American judge, Eleanor Curtis, preferred American champions Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, who were second throughout the contest.
Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon of Canada came in third, while compatriots Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe advanced a place to fourth, overtaking Americans Jessica Joseph and Brandon Forsyth.
“This event was important for us because it’s the Olympic venue,” said Kraatz. “It’s all part of the building process.
“We came here with high expectations and we got a feel for the whole situation and environment.”
Added Bourne: “We want to feel comfortable with the venue and the people that are around it — how things are run, how tight the security is.” They dismissed criticism of the ice pad being in a pit far below the first row of spectators.
“We’ll adapt to whatever the situation is,” Kraatz said. “We can deal with the fact that the audience is sitting higher. We’ve had it in the past.