Pasha Grishuk and Evgeny Platov
Pasha Grishuk and Evgeny Platov of Russia claimed their second straight Olympic ice dancing gold medal Monday as they skated to a dramatic requiem at the Nagano Winter Games in central Japan.
Grishuk and Platov, who led through two compulsory dances and the original dance, stepped and ''twizzled'' -- as quick, clean turns on the blades are called -- to pull off a technically strong routine set to the haunting beats of ''Memorial Requiem'' by Michael Nyman.
The duo received two perfect 6.0s and seven 5.9s for artistic impression and scored three 5.9s, five 5.8s and a 5.7 for technical merit with unanimous votes for first place from all nine judges.
Grishuk and Platov, the four-time reigning world champions, became the first ice dancers ever to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals while collecting their 22nd consecutive victory.
The couple has been unbeaten for four years -- ever since they triumphed at the Lillehammer Olympics with an entertaining free dance to a rock'n'roll number and Grishuk still sported her natural brown hair and used her given name Oksana.
Grishuk, who now has her hair bleached to platinum blond, changed her name last year to avoid confusion with Ukraine teenager Oksana Baiul, who also won an Olympic gold medal four years ago in the women's singles.
Grishuk and Platov, dressed in purple outfits, pulled off their usual action-filled routine featuring continuous moves, including lifts and quick-twisting turns, with precision and barely any moment of just plain skating.
Grishuk broke out in tears after the performance in the last Olympics for the ice dance leaders, who have indicated they will turn professional following this season.
Fellow Russians Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov, the two-time world silver medalists, who have repeatedly tried to overtake Grishuk and Platov, again finished behind their compatriots and settled for a silver medal.
Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat of France took the bronze medal after playing Romeo and Juliet in a showcase of a technically demanding routine in which Anissina, a former Russian, lifts Peizerat twice.
Two-time world bronze medalists Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz of Canada finished in fourth place, followed by Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh, another pair of Russian dancers.
Japan's Aya Kawai and Hiroshi Tanaka, the first to go on the ice, performed their dance to a melancholic piece without any mishaps to finish in 23rd place out of 24 entries.
Monday's competition was interrupted for more than 20 minutes after about two-thirds of the lights hanging from the ceiling suddenly went out while the seventh pair, Tatjana Navka and Nikolai Morozov of Belarus, were performing.
The problem was a result of human error, said Katsuichiro Hisanaga, a technical delegate of the International Skating Union.
A staff member apparently turned the switch off by mistake and the mercury lighting system required time to cool down before it could be re-lit.
The Olympic figure skating competition continues with the women's short program Wednesday. (Kyodo News)
Final results of the figure skating after the ice dance free dance program Monday in the 18th Olympic Winter Games at White Ring, Nagano:
1. Pasha Grishuk and Evgeny Platov, Russia 2.0 points
2. Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov, Russia 4.0
3. Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat, France 7.0
4. Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, Canada 7.2
5. Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh, Russia 9.8
6. Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio, Italy 12.0
7. Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow, U.S. 14.0
8. Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas, Lithuania 16.2
9. Irina Romanova and Igor Yaroshenko, Ukraine 18.4
10. Kati Winkler and Rene Lohse, Germany 19.8
22. Elizaveta Stekolnikova and Dmitrii Kazarlyga, Kazakstan 44.2
23. Aya Kawai and Hiroshi Tanaka, Japan 45.6
(February 16, 1998)
Japan's Aya Kawai and Hiroshi Tanaka