Despite hip injury, Boitano is close to perfect at championships


LANDOVER -- It hurt like the blazes, but there was nothing like a bunch of perfect scores to ease the pain.

Brian Boitano, skating on an injured hip he reinjured in his first number of the night, scored six perfect 10s and a 9.9 to win his third straight NutraSweet World Professional Figure Skating title at the Capital Centre.

"I was really hurting," said the 1988 Olympic gold-medal winner, who altered his program after tendinitis kept him off the ice for 10 days before the competition.

"But if I had had to cut out three triples, I wouldn't have gone out there. I don't want to show myself that way."

Instead, he simply substituted a program just as difficult -- six triple jumps -- but a little more familiar than the one he had planned. And the results were very familiar -- 99.9 points out of a possible 100.

"I can't help it," said Boitano, who felt the pain in his hip increase after a death drop in "The Carousel Waltz," his first number.

"I like doing triples. That's my joy in this."

Boitano needed all of them as his performance followed that of veteran Robin Cousins, who returned to this competition after performing poorly two years ago and was rewarded with five 10s for his version of "The Music of the Night," the number Boitano won with last year.

"It is so nice to have that reaction -- 'You're back.' "

Cousins' performance was elegant and moving, but it lacked the technical difficulty of Boitano's.

"I'm just like Torvill and Dean," said Boitano. "I don't want people to remember how good I was; I want them to see how much better I am."

His comparison to the British ice dancing champions was apt. Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, who have not competed head-to-head since the 1984 Olympics when they won a gold medal, easily won last night before 15,753 fans delighted with their return to competition.

"It is nice to have a title again," said Dean.

The revolutionary couple honored the 10th anniversary of John Lennon's death with a performance linking the songs "Revolution" and "Imagine."

Trading dancers' embraces for arm locks and loving gestures for slaps during "Revolution," they stopped, exhausted, and then found comfort in each other's arms in "Imagine."

Six 10s and a 9.9 were their reward, plus the $40,000 first prize.

And Denise Biellmann, who finished second to Debi Thomas here last year in what many thought was a miscarriage of judging, won the women's division, edging out Rosalynn Sumners.

Thomas, the Olympic bronze medalist whose skating focus appears to be weakening as she continues her studies at Stanford, was third.

An ill Elizabeth Manley, the Canadian who bested Thomas in Calgary, bravely finished fourth.

Biellmann's choreography for the artistic segment -- to a tango rhythm by cello -- was risky and she knew it. She barely garnered enough points from the judges to beat Sumner, despite her commanding lead after the technical portion.

"When you do something different, it is always easier to give not so good marks," said the Swiss champion.

"But I like to do a little bit different."

The only thing that could top Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini skating to "When a Man Loves a Woman" was Underhill and Martini skating to The Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody."

And it did top it. The Canadian pair earned six perfect 10s and the $40,000 first prize in the pairs division for the fifth time.

"We wanted to do the sequel to 'When a Man Loves a Woman,' but we couldn't find the music for it," Underhill said of the performance that brought down the house last year.

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