Russian Couple Dance Into History

NAGANO, Japan -- The Russians almost always win Olympic ice dancing. Pasha Grishuk and Yevgeny Platov always win, wherever they skate.

Grishuk and Platov remained above the storm of complaints about judging and claims of conspiracies to shut out the Canadians. They won all three disciplines to become the first couple to repeat as Olympic ice dance champions.

Earning two perfect marks for presentation Monday in stretching their winning streak to 22 events, Grishuk and Platov edged compatriots Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov. Third place went to France's Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat.

That streak includes a contentious victory at Lillehammer over Britain's Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, the only non-Russian ice dancers to win at the Games, in 1984.

The 1-2 finish for Russia gave the nation all three figure skating golds at Nagano so far and five medals overall.

No duo had attempted to defend a gold medal in the following Olympics until the outrageous Grishuk and her dependable partner. Usually, ice dancers go right from the top of the medals podium to the pros.

Grishuk and Platov are headed there, as well, although the platinum blonde with the checkered past and a new name -- she was Oksana in '94 -- is hopeful of a movie career.

They will take with them one of the most impressive dossiers in figure skating history. And they'll leave behind the protests alleging privileged status and unduly high marks.

Their marks Monday night were deserved. Performing to "Memorial Requiem," they showed unmatchable speed and power. Grishuk, wearing a huge silver cross on the front of her blue dress -- along with purple skates and blue fingernails -- covered her face at the end and cried as the couple took their bows.

Krylova and Ovsyannikov, runners-up at the last two world championships, skated next to music from "Carmen." Their routine was strangely funky for such classical music and featured a humorous touch as she pulled a red scarf from his costume at the end, signifying her taking of his heart.

The pain of tragic young love punctuated Anissina and Peizerat's passionate portrayal of "Romeo and Juliet" to get France's second figure skating bronze of the games.

Canada's Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, third at the past two world championships, finished fourth. Their coach, Natalya Dubova, insisted throughout the event that the Russians and French conspired to keep the Canadians off the podium.