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FIGURE SKATING / WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS : Meno and Sand Take Togetherness a Little Bit Too Far

TIMES STAFF WRITER

As figure skating’s world turned Wednesday, the talk was of pairs. Off the ice, the waitress and the truck driver, Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval, reunited. On the ice, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, proved equally inseparable.

In figure skating’s equivalent of two young lovers becoming attached at the braces, the hook on Meno’s skate became caught in the pants leg of Sand’s costume, forcing them to interrupt their freestyle program during the World Championships at Chiba, Japan, for almost 10 seconds while they broke the clench.

And that was the best thing that happened to the U.S. champions from Costa Mesa.

Performing less than masterfully up to that point, Meno said they improved after the entanglement, enabling them to retain the sixth-place position that they found themselves in after the previous day’s technical program.

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Still, it was a disappointment for Meno and Sand, who finished fifth in last month’s Winter Olympics and figured to improve after the gold and silver medalists from Russia decided to bypass the World Championships.

Instead, two other Russian pairs skated to the forefront as Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov won and Marina Eltsova and Andrei Bushkov finished third. The defending champions from Canada, Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, were second despite her broken rib.

Because no U.S. pair finished among the first five--Kyoka Ina and Jason Dungjen were 12th, Karen Courtland and Todd Reynolds 17th--the United States will have only two berths in the event in next year’s World Championships.

Vying for one of them might be Urbanski and Marval, the two-time U.S. champions who can’t seem to find happiness skating with or without each other. Or they might decide to come back this time as professionals.

Less certain about her future is Natasha Kuchiki of Canoga Park, who teamed with Marval in this year’s national championships to finish fourth. Once a bronze medalist in the World Championships with Sand, she is searching for her third partner in four years.

Figure Skating Notes

In the men’s technical program, Olympic silver medalist Elvis Stojko of Canada was first. Aren Nielsen, a replacement for injured Brian Boitano, finished sixth, and U.S. champion Scott Davis was eighth.


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