In retrospect, it was not a very good idea: holding a figure skating competition in the summertime.
Not a moment too soon, the skating events at the troubled Goodwill Games came to an end Saturday. The performances were sloppy and the competitors worn out, a result of all the confusion of the past week."We're tired," said American Elaine Zayak, the former world champion who finished last among the eight skaters. "This has been a long week, because of the ice and the schedules."
And besides, said Zayak, "summertime is not really for skating. It's for summer sports."
On Saturday, the phrase "winning ugly" was taken to a new extreme.
One of the best leapers in the world, Surya Bonaly of France, missed four planned jumps but still won the gold medal. Why? Because nearly everyone else was just as lousy.
"I'm very happy it's over," said Bonaly, a four-time European champion and the only truly big name the organizers could attract.
Somehow oblivious to it all was 14-year-old American Michelle Kwan. Though lacking the artistic flair of a more mature skater, Kwan bounced back from a flawed technical program with a solid free-skate performance to vault from sixth to second over the error-prone field.
"Yesterday I just didn't go for it. I was holding back," said Kwan, who landed all seven triple jumps in her routine. "I was more confident going into the long program. I said to myself, `Go for everything. You have nothing to lose."'
Bronze went to Russia's Maria Butyrskaya, who moved up despite a fall while attempting a triple lutz.
The U.S. women's basketball team, one victory away from its first gold medal in a major international in four years, neutralized China's towering center in a 105-73 semifinal victory.
Lisa Leslie scored 24 points to lead the Americans, who face France in Sunday's final.