CALGARY, FEB. 22 -- No matter how many rhythmic tangos have gone before, when ice dancing is done with the sort of disciplined theatrics the Soviet pair of Natalia Bestimianova and Andrei Bukin apply to the event, it is eminently enjoyable. It was tonight, as the Soviets won the original set pattern at the Winter Olympics.
Bestimianova and Bukin are not expected to awaken the world in the same way Great Britain's Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean did at Sarajevo. But the reigning world champions and the 1984 Olympic silver medalists do have a similar nickname, "B and B," and are expected to collect the gold with ease and flair. They took another step in that direction when they won tonight's portion at the Saddledome.
Skating to a tango predetermined by the nine judges, Bestimianova and Bukin put on a dynamic, tempestous show that began with his hauling her across the ice, and ended with her leg draped over his arm. They received solid 5.9s for both composition and presentation, with one perfect 6.0 for the latter.
"We had a good feeling," she said.
Coupled with their first place after the compulsories that counted for 30 percent, the consistent Soviets seem assured of victory following Tuesday night's free skating. The four-minute program counts for 50 percent.
World silver medalists Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko were in second place with an exquisitely designed dance in black and white. They received 5.8s with one 5.7 for composition, and five 5.9s, three 5.8s and a 5.7 for style.
Canadian world bronze medalists Tracy Wilson and Robert McCall were in third place and trying to prevent a Soviet sweep, with the U.S.S.R. pair of Natalia Annenko and Guenrikh Sretenski in fourth place. Wilson and McCall did that with a splendid balletic interpretation of the tango that earned marks of seven 5.8s and two 5.7s for composition, and six 5.8s, one 5.7 and two 5.9s in for presentation.
The original set pattern consists of a preselected dance, but the skaters can choose their own music and moves. It is called a set pattern because they must repeat the same routine around the ice. It differs from pairs skating primarily in that no jumps or throws are allowed.
Suzanne Semanick and Scott Gregory were thought to be longshots for a medal. But they suffered a calamitous and unheard of fall in the compulsories that set them back to sixth place. They remained there despite a sexy tango that included a pair of knee slides and ended with a kiss. They received scores ranging from 5.3 to 5.6 for technical merit and mostly 5.5s and 5.6s for presentation.
Gregory said, "We went out determined to do the absolute best that we could and we think we did."