CALGARY, FEB. 24 -- The stir caused by Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay of France continued in the ice dancing community today. The seemingly fabulous brother and sister pair choreographed by Christopher Dean finished in eighth place, and in the process raised serious questions about the judging.
The medalists in Tuesday night's event were conventional ballroom dancers who appeared invulnerable to upset: the Soviet world champions Natalia Bestemianova and Andre Bukin won the gold, the silver went to Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, and the bronze to Canadians Tracy Wilson and Rob McCall.
But the biggest ovation went to the French, who are following in the footsteps of Jane Torvill and Dean, the gold medalists from Great Britain four years ago. Their "Savage Rite" choreographed by Dean featured revealing deerskin and gold lame' costumes, the skaters rarely moving out of a crouch and Paul Duchesnay doing many of the spins and moves usually performed by the woman. That was called inappropriate by some, and their scores ranged from 5.0 to 5.8, raising the possibility there is a schism within the judging community over what constitutes good ice dancing.
At the European championships last month in Prague, the pair received the bronze medal and a riotous ovation.
Some accused the pair of breaking the staid rules of ballroom dancing. According to Ron Luddington, coach of the U.S. team of Suzanne Semanick and Scott Gregory, the French holds were too unconventional, their lifts too high (none above the shoulder), and their style a violation of a vague rule controlling "excess." Luddington said, "Sure we'd like to do that, but we'd get our heads chopped off."
But then, Torvill and Dean stretched the rules, and received 12 perfect scores in Sarajevo.