NAGANO, Japan -- Before we get to the results of the ice dancing competition at the 1998 Winter Olympics, we take this timeout for Pasha Grishuk's Olympic dating game.
Does Russia's great ice dancer have a boyfriend?
"Why? Do I look like I have a boyfriend?" she said yesterday. "No. Unfortunately, I don't have a boyfriend. On Feb. 17, I want every cute guy to come to the [Olympic] village to make him stand in line. Put the cutest on the right side and the not-so-cutest on the left. But only gold medalists, please."
And now, back to the ice dancing, where Grishuk and her partner Evgeny Platov won the original dance and remained in first place heading into today's free dance final, worth 50 percent of the overall score.
It was jive night at the Winter Olympics as the lords of the rings pumped up the volume and 24 scantily clad, hip-shaking couples were actually participating in a sport and going for the gold.
There were Bulgarians dancing to "Wooly Bully" by Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, and Israelis boogeying to "Hey Boy, Hey Girl," by Louis Prima and Keely Smith.
A Russian team, Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh, selected Little Richard's "Tutti-Frutti." She was even dressed a la tutti-frutti.
"We like this rock 'n' roll, this 'Tutti-Frutti,' " Averbukh said.
Five couples performed to "Great Balls of Fire" by Jerry Lee Lewis.
But in the end, it was Grishuk and Platov who brought down the house, performing to Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock."
She was dressed in a leather collar, a black leather bondage halter and a silver miniskirt. He wore black leather and silver.
"A lot of people ask me, 'Oh, is the collar for your [dog] Vanya?' " Grishuk said.
Nope. It's for an Olympic event. Grishuk and Platov have won 21 straight competitions and are out to become the first dance team to win consecutive Olympic golds.
"I want to win the gold," Grishuk said. "Then I want to win the Oscar. This is going to be my next goal, as soon as possible."
"I don't think another partner will handle this lady," he said.
Grishuk and Platov's Russian rivals, Anjelika Krylova and Oleg jTC Ovsyannikov, were second and even earned a perfect mark of 6.0 for artistic impression from the Russian judge.
The last time these teams met in a competition, at the European championships, there was blood on the ice, as the Olympic champions were slashed by their rivals.
Now, they get in their digs with words, not blades.
Asked what she thought of her rivals' perfect mark, Grishuk said, "Nothing."
How's that for brevity?
France's Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat were third.
Some people around the sport say that the dirty dancing has been accompanied by a lot of dirty dealing, as the judges have allegedly conspired to mail in the scores to ensure a Russian stranglehold on the top two spots.
Apparently locked out of the medal picture are Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz, who are fourth overall.
Americans Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow remain seventh. The married couple showed up in pink and black outfits and performed to "Rip It Up," by Ross Mitchell.
With her slit skirt, black belt laden with rhinestones, bare midriff and exposed shoulders, she looked a bit like a Las Vegas waitress. He looked like a blackjack dealer.
Swallow said his first reaction upon seeing his wife in the outfit was "Wow."
"It's all about show and tell," he said. "If anyone can show, Liz can. Of course, I'd like to keep her to myself.
"The outfit? It's youthful. It's loose. It's rock 'n' roll. It's rebellion. I think Liz's mother may have a different impression of it."
Pub Date: 2/16/98