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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Feuding Russian Skaters Meet Again




WASHINGTON -- In their nastiest confrontation, the two Russian ice dancers once fought over a man at Spago restaurant in Los Angeles.


On Thursday, they had another highly emotional, yet more civil, meeting.


For the first time since they swapped partners - ending one marriage as well as two of the most popular dance teams of all time - Maya Usova and Pasha Grishchuk shared the same ice in a practice session for the World Pro Championships, which started Friday night at Washington's MCI Center.


Grishchuk, formerly known as Oksana Grishchuk and her new partner, Usova's ex-husband Alexander Zhulin, and Usova and Yevgeny Platov, with whom Grishchuk won two Olympic gold medals, virtually ignored each other while running their routines.


Then they retreated to hold one of the most awkward joint news conferences in skating memory, where a good dose of humor from Platov, the one skater who came out of the whole thing unscathed and unscarred, helped keep the atmosphere from turning frigid.


But there was also a poignant moment, an apology from Zhulin, whose long-running affair with Grishchuk under Usova's nose led to the scene at Spago in the early 1990s and the subsequent years of emotional turmoil that led to his divorce from Usova this year.


While the four Russians bring plenty of medals to the table, nothing beats the pedigree of the women's field at the event, which is open to all skaters - professional and Olympic-eligible - for the first time in its 26-year history.


Olympic silver medalist Michelle Kwan will debut a long program, which includes seven triple jumps, that she'll use later this season at the U.S. nationals and the World Championships.


Lu Chen and Nicole Bobek, the two other Olympic-eligible skaters in the field, are used to that kind of competition, but it almost seems unfair to veteran pros Oksana Baiul, Yuka Sato and Katarina Witt, who barely does a triple jump these days.


"I'm more excited to skate with Michelle than against Michelle," Witt said. "Because this is not a competition I win. I have to be honest about this."