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Rocky, Calla fighting off colds, fears


ALBERTVILLE, France -- So Rocky turned to Calla and said, "This is it; we're in the Olympics."

But there were some inconveniences involved as they stepped onto the ice for last night's pairs figure skating original program.

First of all, both Rocky Marval, the 26-year-old trucker from New Jersey, and his pairs figure skating partner, the 31-year-old waitress from Wilmington, Del., Calla Urbanski, had tremendous chest colds.

They had waited more than a day to get medication, because most over-the-counter cold medicines contain ingredients that are on the list of stimulants banned by the International Olympic Committee. And the U.S. Olympic Committee's medical staff meanwhile had run out of the "legal stuff," as Marval called it.

And another thing. Urbanski, though able to appreciate she at last was in the Olympic Games, felt a huge weight of expectation, especially in last night's short program. Because she never has been comfortable with the double Axel she had to do early in the routine, her head was full of concerns, even as her energy level was low.

The two pairs from the new Unified Team of former Soviet republics -- Natalia Michkouteniok-Artour Dmitriev and Elena Betchke-Denis Petrov -- were knocking the judges dead with their dramatic, technical ballet, with their style and tempo.

The Canadian pair of Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, despite Brasseur's fall on a double jump, were quick and showy, with difficult throws. They had taken the first three spots going into tomorrow's long program final.

And then came the Czechoslovaks, Radka Kovarikova and Rene Novotny -- flowing -- and the Unified Team of Evguenia Chichkova and Vadim Naoumov -- artsy, and loved by the crowd -- and even fellow Americans Natasha Kuchiki and Todd Sand -- fast-paced despite a Sand slip. Urbanski and Marval were seventh going into tomorrow's long program.

"To me, the short program is just very tense," Urbanski said. "Because one jump is so important. And you're out there; you represent your country. You know you want to do it for yourself, but for everybody else, too."

She landed the Axel, perfectly, but meanwhile Marval brushed the sideboards, though he slid away quickly and carried on. "The rush of adrenalin was just so overwhelming," Marval said. "It's a good thing the walls were high; I would've gone right over. It was, 'I can't believe we're here. I didn't want it to end. I wanted to go do it again.' "

Urbanski? "I wanted to do it again because he hit the wall," she said. "I didn't even know if he had done the double, or pulled back and done a single."

As they stood at center ice, taking their bows at the end, she asked, "Did you do the single?"

And he said, "Hell, no."

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