It's official: Zaretskys are headed to Turin

Formal decision came after the duo finished 15th in the European Figure Skating Championships last month.

The Olympic Committee of Israel announced on Monday that ice dance duo Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky will represent Israel at the upcoming 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. The formal decision had been expected after the duo finished a respectable 15th at last month's European Figure Skating Championships. "We're very, very excited about representing Israel," Roman Zaretsky said by phone from the US, where he and his sister are training. "It's a very great honor to represent our country, and just to be a part of carrying in our flag and being a part of the delegation. "We're going to do the very best we can, and just enjoy our first Olympics, which will help us secure our place for the future. It'll be easier for us in the future." The Zaretskys, who grew up in Metulla, have spent the past couple of years commuting between Israel and the US. In all, five Israelis will compete at the Turin Games: Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky, Israel's premier ice dance couple in their third Winter Olympics appearance; and Mikhail Renzhin, the first skier to qualify for Israel. Also Monday, the International Skating Union sent an invitation to the OCI to send a short-track speed skater. Elena (Prybysh) Kaplan could have been chosen for the spot as she had met the Olympic criteria. However, after discussing the issue during its meeting, the OCI decided that Kaplan would not join her compatriots because she had not met their requirements. The 2006 Winter Olympics open in Turin on Friday.