ice skating 88.
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Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky skated well, but placed fifth in the Ice Dance competition that finished on Friday at the European Championships in Lyon, France. But the big news from the Israeli delegation was the performance of youngsters Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky, who climbed to 15th in the final standings and are likely headed to the Olympic Games next month in Turin, Italy.
"The Zaretskys are going to the Olympics," Israel Ice Skating Federation Boris Chait confirmed to The Jerusalem Post. "That is the agreement that was reached with [OCI chairman] Zvi Warshviak and the Olympic Committee of Israel, together with [elite sports unit director] Gili Lustig and [International Olympic Committee member] Alex Giladi."
Alex Giladi told the Post that since he isn't a member of the Olympic Committee of Israel, he couldn't make such an agreement, but that he will certainly recommend to the committee that the Zaretskys be allowed to compete in Turin.
Warshviak said that "once we receive the recommendation for them to go, then we will decide. I certainly hope that is what the recommendation will be."
Lustig told the Post "that the committee will only meet on February 6 to make a final decision, but the Zaretskys have accomplished what we asked of them to do, and that will be our recommendation."
The brother-sister duo from Metulla qualified for the Olympics based on the merits of the now retired pair, Natalia Gudina and Alexei Beletsky. Their performances earned Israel a spot for a second pair in Turin, which was earmarked for the Zaretskys as Israel's No. 2 ranked team. But the OCI feared that the skaters, in their first season on the senior circuit, were not yet ready to represent Israel alongside Chait and Sakhnovsky.
While the Boris Chait is pleased with the Zaretskys results, he was clearly disappointed with the level of judging, which saw his daughter, Galit, and Sakhnovsky place fifth despite what many felt was a medal-winning performance.
"The Russian and Israeli Ice Skating Federations [ISU] are presenting the International Skating Federation with a letter containing three proposals for the upcoming Olympic Games to help prevent a scandal like what happened in Salt Lake City," Boris Chait told the Post.
The proposals include "that the marks of the judges be open in the Olympics."
Under the new judging system, the judges' marks have been anonymous.
Other proposals are "to have someone from both the ISU and the IOC to watch over the random draw for the judges and that the assessment committee that adjudicates on the controller and specialists after each phase of the skating program be separate from the judges. As it stands now, the judges themselves do the assessments, rather than an independent body."
Chait and Sakhnovsky finished with 97.09 points in the Free Dance and 188.91 overall, far behind winners Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia (103.32, 202.32), who captured the gold for the third straight time.
Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of Ukraine (99.12, 196.73) edged Lithuanians Margarita Drobiazkos and Povilas Vanagas (100.89, 196.18) to take the silvers. The French pair, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder (99.81, 194.49) place fourth.
The Zaretskys amassed 138.47 points to place 15 of 22 teams.
"I'm just happy that it's over," a disappointed Galit Chait told the Post. "After the Compulsory Dance, when the French couple fell and they still finished ahead of us, I don't know what to say, I think there's a national bias. The only thing that we can do is skate well, and the rest is out of our hands.
"It's really frustrating, but there's nothing we can do about it. We're really looking forward to the Olympics, and we'll try to do our very best there."
Roman Serov continued his downward spiral in the men's competition. After barely managing to make the final cut of 24 of the thirty five athletes after the Short Program, he finished in the 21st spot. Serov muffed a Triple Axel and turned a Triple Toe Loop into a double, losing a slew of marks. His Free Skate wasn't any better, as he lost far too many marks for his Technical Element Score, relegating him to 22nd place overall, a severe drop from the 13th he took in last year's Euros.
Irina Slutskaya of Russia, the reigning World champion, captured her seventh European title, making history with a new record, pushing her ahead of Sonja Henie of Norway and Katerina Witt of Germany.
World champions, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, also of Russia, took the Pairs crown for the fifth straight time and Evgeny Plushenko won his fifth European championship.