NAGANO, Japan -- This was Pasha's last Olympic dance.
Dressed in purple, a silver and white cross cut across the front of her outfit, Pasha Grishuk glided on the ice for four minutes, following Evgeny Platov's every move, twisting and spinning and bringing a little heart and soul to a domed arena named White Ring.
And when this dance of desire and striving ended, the woman who named herself Pasha wept.
"It was very emotional," she said. "I said, 'Evgeny, I am very proud of you.' "
Yesterday, Grishuk and Platov of Russia made Winter Olympic history by becoming the first dance couple to win back-to-back gold medals.
Skating to "Victory," a song they said was a cry of their souls and the capstone of their careers, they dramatically put their stamp on the Olympics.
They circled the ice with speed, power and charisma. And they were in sync every step of the way.
"We really brought a lot to this sport," Grishuk said. "We did develop the sport. And we made it look like a sport."
When Grishuk and Platov perform, ice dancing actually may look like an athletic contest instead of a ballroom show. But the Winter Games' version of "A Chorus Line" still suffers from the same, old, petty intrigues and judging controversies.
This time, just about all the top couples had a complaint -- except the winners. As usual, the event was predictable, the top 13 spots remaining unchanged after the two compulsory dances. For all the trumped-up theatrics, the judges could have mailed in these scores years ago.
Silver medalists Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov griped about the judging, the scoring and their second-place finish.
"All I can say is, the public liked us better," Krylova said.
France's Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat won the bronze and seemed happy enough, not surprising because they skated a sloppy "Romeo and Juliet."
Fourth-place Canadians Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz were frozen out of the medals from the outset. Their "Riverdance" routine gave them third in the free dance, ahead of the French. But having been placed not-so-surprisingly fifth in the first compulsory dance, the Canadians were doomed to go home without a medal.
"It's funny," Bourne said. "You'd think that I'd be real upset, but I don't feel awful at all. You've got to look at it, laugh at it, and get past it."
Natalia Dubova, who coached the Canadians, and before that, Grishuk and Platov, intimated the event was rigged. She said that a group of former Eastern bloc judges and a French judge joined to hand out the top prizes artfully.
She also leveled a few verbal shots at Grishuk and Platov.
"All of us remember what [Jayne] Torvill and [Christopher] Dean did to improve our sport," Dubova said. "I always ask myself, bTC 'What have Grishuk and Platov done for the sport?' For me, they don't bring the sport up."
Grishuk attempted to sidestep all the controversies.
"About the judgment, honestly, I just don't know," she said. "We weren't thinking about it. We were too busy to think about our progress. We weren't involved at all with the other people or what the judges were doing."
They simply skated and won, giving Russia its third gold medal and fifth overall in skating.
"I think it's very natural," Grishuk said. "A lot of work. A lot of dedication."
Four years ago, Grishuk and Platov brought rock 'n' roll to the Olympics to beat Torvill and Dean. This time, the winners attempted to display their maturity, with quick, elegant steps, a professional polish and a bow toward more athleticism.
"We changed our style two years ago," said Grishuk, who also changed her name from Oksana to Pasha to avoid being confused with Oksana Baiul, the 1994 Olympic women's champion.
"We have been thinking about this style a lot," she said. "Sometimes, I wouldn't sleep at night. I just always had in my mind that we had to create something. We had to leave a great memory."
Before her final Olympic show, Grishuk promised to spring a surprise. Asked afterward what that surprise was, she said: "Surprise was the gold medal. Maybe it was not a surprise for everybody."
Pub Date: 2/17/98