Totmianina, Marinin ready to end career together on a high note

Published: Saturday, Feb. 11 2006 12:00 a.m. MST

TORINO, Italy — Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin are looking forward to making their finale a winning one and starting a Russian figure skating sweep at the Olympics.

Winners of the last two world and last five European championships, the two are favored to win the pairs title. The first of the figure skating events begins with Saturday's short program. Russians also are favored in the other three events.

The pairs final is Monday.

In their first practice in Torino on Friday, the Russians were cautious in their training and made a few errors, with Totmianina faltering on triple salchow jumps. The two had arrived early Thursday from St. Petersburg.

"It was normal for this situation. There were a couple mistakes, but better to have them now," said Oleg Vasiliev, their coach. "It was not so bad."

Vasiliev won the 1984 gold medal in pairs with Elena Valova. Russians or Soviets have won the gold medal in every Olympics since 1964. That streak includes the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics when a duplicate gold medal was awarded to Canadians Jamie Sale and David Pelletier in the aftermath of a judging scandal. Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were the Russian gold medalists.

Since then a new scoring system replaced the old format, and Totmianina and Marinin have won titles under both systems.

Weary of the travel, the Russians have announced this will be their last competition. Various misfortunes also have taken their toll on Totmianina.

She had a horrifying fall from a lift in October 2004 at Skate America in Pittsburgh that left her unconscious. She spent two days in a hospital.

In December, she was again hospitalized with a stomach ailment. The pair still won the European title for the fifth time last month.

"She is doing better. She is not taking any more medications," Vasiliev said. "She is still on a diet, but not such a strict diet as it used to be."

She lost a noticeable amount of weight following the pairs' victory at the Grand Prix final in Tokyo in December and before the European championships in mid-January.

"She can eat more things. But she has to take care of things like spicy, fried food," Vasiliev said.

Totmianina said after her victory in Lyon, France, that she may be thinner, but, "I still have energy to skate." Neither she nor Marinin was available for interviews Friday.

In the Europeans, the two easily beat most of the other contenders for Olympic medals.