Russian world champs win short program; American champions sixth

Russia's monopoly on Olympic pairs gold looks very secure with Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin.

The two-time world champions skated in perfect unison to win the short program Saturday night at the Turin Games. They were so good that the crowd was hushed for much of the performance, the near silence broken only by the sound of their blades majestically cutting through the ice.

And while three Chinese duos and another Russian couple skated well, Totmianina and Marinin were in a class apart, earning 68.64 points, with the highest totals for both technique and components.

The free skate is Monday night, when "Tot and Max" could become the 12th straight Russian or Soviet pair to win the Olympics.

American champions Rena Inoue and John Baldwin landed the first throw triple axel in international skating one month after hitting the first one in U.S. nationals. They were a surprisingly strong sixth with 61.27 points.

It was the first Olympic event under the code of points created in the wake of the 2002 pairs judging scandal. Three of the Salt Lake City gold medalists Jamie Sale and David Pelletier of Canada and Anton Sikharulidze of Russia are in Turin for the games.

They saw Totmianina and Marinin cover the ice as one to "Snowstorm" by Georgi Sviridov. Their side-by side triple toe loops were spotless, and they finished with a superb string of combination spins, reports AP.


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