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Bereznaya Fully Recovered

from International Figure Skating
January/February 1998

ST. PETERSBURG--The Russian pair of 20-year-old Elena Bereznaya and 21-year-old Anton Sikharulidze may be young and have skated together for less than two years, but they appear to be poised to make an Olympic splash. Bereznaya's certain courage won't be a question. She was seriously injured in a 1996 training accident in which her former partner's toe pick hit her in the head. She battled back and teamed up with Sikharulidze. The duo took second in the Russian Championships in 1997 and went on to win a bronze medal at the European Championships. They are off to an impressive start to the season with a silver medal at the Nations Cup and a gold medal victory over reigning World Pairs Champions Mandy Wotzel & Ingo Steuer at Trophee Lalique.

"I don't have a problem," Bereznaya said of the accident. "I feel good and don't think about it."

"I think sometimes she doesn't even remember the accident," Sikharlidze added.

Their short program is to the music from "Swan Lake" while their long program is set to "Dark Ice." The long program is last year's program revamped. "We changed many, many elements, many, many steps," Sikharulidze said. "We left this program because [it] is very different from other pairs."

The two skaters are not worrying about placing in the Olympics. "We don't talk about "place,'" Sikharulidze said. "We must skate and the judges must give the marks. We must skate and earn [a place] first."

The pair has been working with a psychologist as as part of their training team. "We don't have a problem with skating," Sikharulidze said. "We have a problem with [our] head sometimes. Now we must cure this problem."

The two plan to stay eligible after the 1998 Olympics and compete in the 2002 Olympics games in Salt Lake City, Utah. "We want to continue skating, and we don't want to change anything," Sikharulidze said. "We have ideas already for our programs for next year."

"We will get more and more good," Bereznaya added.

The pair skated on the Elvis Tour of Champions in Canada this fall. "We skate for skating fans, and we like it when they have fun when they saw us," Sikharulidze said. "We enjoyed skating for fans on the tour." --C.L.