Dorothy Hamill, 1976 Olympic and world champion, has her priorities straight. When it comes to being inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame during a time of war, she said, "In the big picture, it doesn't really mean much with the way things are in the world."
Hamill was among several skaters induced into the Hall of Fame in a presentation following yesterday's ice dancing competition. Maribel Vinson Owen, the 1932 Olympic bronze medalist and nine-time U.S. women's champion, was inducted along with 1972 Olympic bronze medalist Janet Lynn and Russian Olympic ice dancing champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko.
Hamill, who lives in Baltimore and skates every day at Benfield Ice Arena in Millersville, Md., said priorities have changed since she won the Olympic and world titles 27 years ago. Instead of watching the women compete Wednesday, Hamill attended one of her daughter's school activities.
"It's not very important," said Hamill, 46. "This is definitely not high on the priority list when you have young men and women at war so we can do silly things like ice skate."
Reigning Olympic gold medalist Alexei Yagudin said he is considering a comeback. The last competition the Russian entered was Skate America in October but he was forced to withdraw with a hip injury. Ever since, he has been able to tour with Stars on Ice but has not competed in any Olympic-eligible events.
If he does return, he said he would like to see changes made with the current judging system. He planned on meeting with International Skating Union President Ottavio Cinquanta to express his displeasure with the current judging system.
Yagudin also said his hip isn't healing as quickly as he would like and has only had three practices since Skate America.
Marie-France Dubreuil hasn't been able to shake an injury she suffered in November at a Grand Prix event in Germany, when she collided back-to-back with a Bulgarian couple the morning of the free dance.
"The bones in my back really shifted," she said. "Nobody knew how to treat that. The injury kept going on."
Despite receiving acupuncture every day to relieve swelling in her left leg, Dubreuil and Canadian partner Patrice Lauzon were in 10th place after yesterday's original dance competition. Their goal is simply to get through the week.
"Finishing our year with a great performance is all we can wish for," Lauzon said.
Chinese skaters Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo celebrated their second consecutive world championship late Wednesday with a few drinks at their hotel -- and lots of ice. Shen, who suffered an ankle injury in practice this week, skated flawlessly in Wednesday's long program but had a swollen ankle after the performance.
Zhao said yesterday that he was so moved by her effort he was willing to give his gold medal to her. Autograph seekers mobbed the couple yesterday at MCI Center. Zhao said they won't skate again until Shen's ankle is healed and he, too, needs a little rest.
Since moving to Detroit two weeks ago to work with Coach Richard Callaghan, Japanese skater Shizuka Arakawa hasn't had time to switch the blade on her right skate. She has been competing with one gold blade and one silver.
The Japanese team leader joked she's here to add a little bronze. Arakawa finished fourth in her group in Wednesday's qualifying free skate, two places ahead of Olympic gold medalist Sarah Hughes.
"She shows she is in the running with some of the other girls," Callaghan said. "If she does what she can do, she's got a great chance to be up top." . . .
A free skate to benefit families of the terrorist attacks will be held April 5 at noon at Fort Dupont Park in Southeast Washington. The minimum donation is $25 and some proceeds will also go to Fort Dupont, one of 20 rinks in the Northeast participating in the fundraiser.