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Ito avenges loss to Yamaguchi


LANDOVER -- Japanese figure skater Midori Ito avenged a loss in the 1992 Winter Olympics to American Kristi Yamaguchi by winning the ladies competition of the DuraSoft Colors World Professional Figure Skating Championships at the USAir Arena last night.

Ito, a silver medalist in Albertville, finished with 99.2 points compared to 98.7 for Yamaguchi, who beat out Ito for the gold nearly two years ago.

Ito had a slight lead, 49.7 to 49 over Yamaguchi, after the technical program, which is Ito's forte. But Ito was just as superb in the artistic program, combining her jumping ability and charisma into a 3:20 second performance done to "The Way We Were" and sung by Barbra Streisand.

Yamaguchi wore a glittering, pale green sequin outfit with feathers, and at times electrified the crowd with her majestic jumps.

Yamaguchi also performed well, earning 49.5 points in the artistry program, but it was an early slip in the technical program that cost her the top prize.

Yamaguchi slipped on an opening slide in her 3:24 second performance to "Being Alive," by Barbra Streisand.

Ito was nearly perfect, scoring two 10s as her speed and jumps were hauntingly beautiful to "Rose of Pain" as Ito skated in a black sequin outfit that was outlined in green.

"I am not satisfied by beating Kristi, but that I did well on my triple jumps and the triple axel," said Ito. "I had been skating ice shows in Japan and the preparation really helped. I hope to perform well again next week in Toronto before heading home."

Barbara Underhill and Paul Martini of Canada won the pairs championship with 99.5 points.

A Russian pair, Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov, were second with 98.2.

Their compatriots, Natalia Annenko and Genrisk Sretenski, won the dance championships with 99.2 points, and American Paul Wylie won the men's competition.

Wylie drew the highest mark of the championships with a 49.9 score in the artistic programs, and finished with 99.2 points.

Wylie, 29, a silver medalist in Albertville, scored four 10s from the judges. He skated to "The Untouchables."

Wylie even dressed like Eliot Ness, wearing a pin striped vest and pants. He admits the 4:20 program was a gamble.

"It's a very diverse program, right from the beginning when it starts out with the wheels squealing and the tommy gun sounds," said Wylie. "It's something I've done maybe three times before, and it was a statement program.

"It was an artistic number, and you have to be creative when you go against somebody like Robin Cousins [finished second with 98.3 points], who has been doing this for quite a while," said Wylie.

"I wanted to use it four years ago, but it's tough to do that as an amateur," he said. "As an amateur, you know you're going to have to do seven triple jumps, and it doesn't allow you time to concentrate on the music. As a pro, you can slow it down a little."

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