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Langlois moved by Totmianina fall

Canadian Press

10/27/2004 2:52:43 PM

HALIFAX (CP) - Anabelle Langlois broke into tears when she saw the TV replay of the terrible fall of a Russian figure skater on the weekend.

But the 23-year-old Canadian insists her confidence hasn't been shaken by the tumble, which horrified fans and is an unsettling reminder of the dangers of pairs skating.

``Seeing the lift go up, I knew it was an accident waiting to happen,'' Langlois said Wednesday as she and partner Patrice Archetto prepared for the MasterCard Skate Canada International, which begins Thursday at the Halifax Metro Centre.

``I've fallen on my head too and I know how scary it is to try to skate again right away. It was a horrific thing so I kind of relived my moment and felt really bad for her.''

Tatiana Totmianina struck her head on the ice during the fall Saturday night at Skate America in Pittsburgh. Totmianina and partner Maxim Marinin are the reigning world pairs champions.

The couple were attempting a difficult, one-handed Axel lasso lift - a move new to their program - when the accident occurred.

An unconscious Totmianina lay motionless for several minutes as medical attendants worked on her. The Russian skater suffered a concussion and will miss the remainder of the Grand Prix season.

Oleg Nilov, vice-president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, blamed the accident on a new scoring system he claims is forcing skaters to increase the difficulty and danger of their programs.

``In my opinion, (the rules) spoil the figure skating, and secondly, they lead to an unjustified risk pursuing many elements, even acrobatic stunts,'' Nilov said.

Adopted this year, the new system dispenses with the old 6.0 maximums for technical merit and artistry. Under the new format, skaters accumulate points for the moves they accomplish rather than having points deducted for mistakes.

But the new system places higher point values on more difficult moves, prompting some to wonder if skaters are being pressured into taking greater risks.

Langois and Archetto, second in Canada last year and fifth in the world in 2003, like the new system but said it needs some tweaking.

``I think it's too bad that they blamed the new judging system for the fall,'' said Langlois, a native of Grand-Mere, Que., who trains and lives in Edmonton.

``They were not obligated to do the lift, but this one had more points so they chose to do it.''

Langlois said falls are an unfortunate reality of pairs skating, but usually occur in practice and away from prying TV lenses and horrified spectators.

``It's very rare that the public gets to see these accidents because by the time you get to competition, you're so trained on these elements that falls like that rarely happen,'' she said.

``But they do happen in training. It's a hazard of our sport.''

Archetto, 31, of Montreal also likes the new scoring system but acknowledged is has forced the couple to increase the difficulty of their program.

It all comes down to knowing your limits.

``There's no point in trying something if you can't pull it off,'' he said. ``We changed the things we did this year because we know we can do them.

``You have to evaluate your training to see what you can and cannot do.''

The men's and pairs' short programs are set for Thursday at Skate Canada.

The event is the second of six international Grand Prix events this season but lacks much of the star power of previous events.

A rash of injuries has forced several big names to skip Halifax, including five-time world women's champion Michelle Kwan of the United States and Russia's Evgeny Plushenko, a three-time men's champion.