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Stojko Wins Fourth Canadian Title
Associated Press
Saturday, January 10, 1998; 10:36 p.m. EST

 "Holy mackerel!'' said Elvis Stojko when he saw his six perfect marks at the Canadian skating championships Jan. 10. (Reuters Photo)
HAMILTON, Ontario — Elvis Stojko won his fourth Canadian figure skating title Saturday night with a near-perfect free program.

The three-time world champion got six perfect 6.0 marks, four for technique and two for impression. All the other marks were 5.9s.

"Holy mackerel!'' he said when he saw the marks.

Stojko landed six triple jumps and a quadruple toe loop in combination with a double toe loop.

He said he approached the final thinking only of enjoying skating.

"It's funny,'' he said. "When you're not in the mood to impress anybody ... it's weird how things start to go well for you.

"You just do it for the love of the sport, the Olympic ideal. It was a special night.''

Emmanuel Sandhu, 17, won the silver medal with a sensational display, landing eight triple jumps.

Jeffrey Langdon, 22, last year's runnerup, was third.

The question now is whether Canada will send two or three to next month's Olympics. It is allowed three but only Stojko and Langdon have met Canadian Olympic qualifying criteria. Sandhu, who won the Canadian junior title last year, hasn't skated long enough at the senior level to qualify.

Canadian Figure Skating Association director general David Dore said he would file an appeal in an effort to get Sandhu added to the Canadian team.

Also on Saturday, Kristy Sargeant and Kris Wirtz won the pairs title after years of near misses. They were fifth in 1993, second in 1994, fifth in 1995, second in 1996 and second in 1997.

"I knew there was only one spot I would enjoy this time,'' Wirtz said. "Second? I've been there too many times — three times in the last four years.''

Sargeant, 23, and Wirtz, 28, are engaged but have yet to set a wedding date. They've often skated better in world meets than in the Canadian nationals. They were sixth in the 1997 worlds in Switzerland.

"In our careers, this has always been the biggest hurdle for us,'' Sargeant said. "The Canadian championship -- everything about it was a problem for us.

"Now that we've actually won it, we can relax. Going into Olympics and worlds as Canadian champions will help us. The judges will say: `Now that's the Canadian champions.' It won't be, `Well, that's just the second-best team in Canada.' This will help us.''

"You're not getting any bonus marks when they know you're not the big guns in your own country,'' Wirtz added.

Finishing second and grabbing the other Olympic berth were 1997 champions Marie-Claude Savard-Gagnon and Luc Bradet.

Surprise winners of the bronze medals were Valerie Saurette and Jean-Sebastien Fecteau of Montreal, who were ninth a year ago.

Sargeant and Wirtz, skating their 4½-minute freestyle program to a Prokofiev piano concerto, began with perfect side-by-side triple toe loop jumps. When Sargeant cleanly landed her triple Salchow after Wirtz threw her into the air, the title was in the bag.

Sargeant fell on a double Axel throw. But Savard-Gagnon and Bradet and Menzies and Bombardier, who skated before them, had made more mistakes than Sargeant and Wirtz.

© Copyright 1998 The Associated Press

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