Someone must have told the Russian pairs teams they were supposed to do a historical reenactment at the World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France.
Because all three recalled the 1991 collapse of the Soviet
And there could be no better evidence of how far down the once-dominant Russian pairs have fallen in those 21 years.
Fourth, eighth and 11th after the short program.
The judging panel also must have received the reenactment memo, because it handed out scores that recalled just how completely reputation still trumps what happens on the ice.
While the short program order of finish for the top three was defensible, the inflated marks were not.
Maybe the judges simply were brain dead after watching the relentless slop.
Meanwhile, the two U.S. pairs,
"I thought it was pretty good for my worlds debut and for us skating together for only a year and a half," said Marley, of Downers Grove.
Defending world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy of
Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China, the 2010 world champions, are second at 67.10. He stepped out of a jump.
Narumi Takahashi and Mervin Tran of Japan are third at 65.37. She two-footed the landing of a throw.
The top Russian finishers, Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, were fourth even though he stepped out of a jump, and they fell on the final pose. There was no deduction for the fall because it did not happen on an actual element, but it clearly left a messy final impression to everyone but the judges, who somehow gave them 65.02 points.
Russians Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, last year's silver medalists, still managed a decent 60 points (60.48) - an unofficial breaking point between decent and fair - even though they got a double deduction for a combined fall on a death spiral.
Russians Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov (59.59), bronze medalists in 2009 and 2010, were so bad they finished behind. . .both U.S. pairs. They also got a double deduction when he collapsed bringing her down from a lift. The good thing was such a fall is potentially very dangerous but all it cost them was two points.
A Russian news agency, RIA Novosti, reported both Smirnov and Trankov blamed the ice for their falls. But Germany's Szolkowy said at the press conference after the short program that the ice is "just perfect."
"It just cracks under your feet like glass," Smirnov told the news agency.
Or like the Russian pairs hegemony.
In the 36 seasons from 1965 through 2000, Russian skaters won 31 pairs world titles.
They also won at least one medal every year from 1962 through 2006.
They haven't won another title since 2005.
And they could go home without a medal for the third time in the last six years.
The U.S. will extend its pairs medal drought. The last was a bronze by Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman in a watered-down field at the 2002 post-Olympic worlds. The last in a non-Olympic-year worlds was the 1996 bronze by Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, who coach Marley and Brubaker.