Thursday, March 18

2000 World Championships Flashback: Day Three

Today, I'm going to highlight the pairs free skate and the home-country skaters, Sarah Abitbol and Stephane Bernadis. Leading up to the World Championships, the team had been producing the best results of their lives-- a gold and two silver medals on the Grand Prix series, and another silver medal at the Grand Prix Final. They also moved up to the bronze medal position at the European Championships after two-time World Champions Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia were stripped of their title for a positive doping test (Elena took cold medicine with a banned substance). The Russians were banned for three months and not allowed to compete at the World Championships, leaving the door open for Abitbol and Bernadis to move up the standings.

The French team was in fourth place heading into the free skate, right behind Canada's Jamie Sale and David Pelletier-- a team having nothing short of a dream season. Then Tonya vs. Nancy part two happened, and there were some doubts whether Abitbol and Bernadis would be able to skate, let alone challenge for a medal that they were so close to. [And yes I know that some people think the whole attack was staged by the French Federation in order to get sympathy votes for a medal... I'll say that nothing really surprises me in figure skating, but it was a pretty severe gash on his arm to have faked..]

Here's their free skate from the event. They ended up winning bronze easily after Sale and Pelletier had a meltdown performance.

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