Judges spill Marval's hopes, give berth to pair with 3 falls


DETROIT -- It was a tough week for Rocky Marval, the skating truck driver.

He was orally blasted by his ex-partner, Calla Urbanski. He was trying to patch together a new partnership with Natasha Kuchiki. And he was angling for one last spot in the Winter Olympics.

But yesterday, just when it looked like Marval and Natasha Kuchiki were about to finish third in pairs at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, another pothole appeared.

The judges.

In what had to be a skating first, Karen Courtland and Todd Reynolds fell three times, including once simultaneously, and were awarded third place and the final Olympic berth ahead of Kuchiki and Marval.

"We skated our hearts out," Marval said. "What can I say?"

The judges could have mailed in these results.

As expected, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, fifth in the world last year, won their first national title.

Kyoko Ina and Jason Dungjen finished second.

Courtland and Reynolds got one of those lifetime achievement awards the sport's movers and shakers periodically hand out and finished third.

And Marval was out.

"From what I understand, we were counted out from the beginning," he said.

Sand also had a tough week before yesterday's triumph. He took elbow in the eye in practice with Meno. Then, he was forced to skate with a black eye that didn't quite match his blue outfit.

"Well, you know, Detroit, it's a rough city," Sand said. "You should have seen the other guy.

"But what do you expect?" he added. "We were skating in Joe Louis Arena?"

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