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Ones to watch at Worlds:


Evgeny Plushenko - a classical skater with the sport's most exciting jump combination: a remarkable quad-triple-double. Plushenko won both the European Championships and the Grand Prix Final, securing his place in the lead pack going into the 2002 Games.

Alexei Yagudin: a fiery Russian, who may have a score to settle with Plushenko at Worlds. The former training partners have an openly-chilly relationship, and a healthy rivalry for skating's top spot.

Todd Eldredge: a wild-card, Eldredge will unveil a new long program skated to music from the film "1492: Conquest of Paradise," and try to prove to the world that he has the mettle to medal after two years away from heavy competition. The last time Eldredge competed at Worlds in Canada — 1996 — he won.

Timothy Goebel: if the jumps leave him, as they have sporadically all season, Goebel is in trouble. The 20-year-old also has a history of stumbles at Worlds, finishing 11th in 2000, and 12th in 1999. The Americans will need more from him this year.

Elvis Stojko: the three-time world champion from Canada will be making his first appearance at a major competition this season, after suffering a bevy of injuries. Canadian fans anxiously await their hometown hero's return to the ice.


Irina Slutskaya: the reinvigorated Russian has dominated the sport this season, and the judges seem eager to reward her. She has not lost to Kwan all season.

Michelle Kwan: America's lead medal hopeful must step up and deliver the goods she has been promising all year. Kwan this year has proven herself beatable, not only on the technical mark, but — shockingly — on the artistic mark as well. Skating fans still wait for another, more difficult, jump combination.

Sarah Hughes: whether because of a flutzy-Lutz, her youth or reputation judging, Hughes has yet to see the top of the medals podium. But undoubtedly a legitimate medal contender, and rival for Kwan.

Maria Butyrskaya: if nerves don't do her in, Butyrskaya is a contender. A fourth-place finish at the Grand Prix final may provide the 1999 World Champion the motivation she needs to land those jumps.


Jamie Sale/David Pelletier: a dreamy pair, Sale and Pelletier connect with audiences like no pair since the legendary Russians, Gordeeva and Grinkov. If the Canadians can land their side-by-side jumps, judges have been willing to give them the top spots.

Elena Berezhnaya/Anton Sikharulidze: talented but inconsistent, audiences hold their breath when Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze take the ice. Stumbles cost them the Grand Prix final, where they lost to Sale and Pelletier.

Xue Shen/Hongbo Zhao: the Chinese team has all the difficulty, but has struggled earning the artistic mark. New choreography has helped them this year, where they claimed the bronze at the Grand Prix final.

The Americans: Kyoko Ina and John Zimmerman solidified their standing as America's top pair, but have yet to crack the top five at Worlds. Tiffany Scott and Philip Dulebohn have been steadily improving, and likely will chalk up a top ten finish.

Ice Dance:

Marina Anissina/Gwendal Peizerat: the passionate French team won all the Grand Prix events they attended this year, but did not compete against their main rivals, Italians Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio. The Italians also have proven themselves, winning three Grand Prix events and the Grand Prix Final.

Irina Lobacheva/Ilia Averbukh: reigning Russian national champions have yet to beat either the French or the Italians this season, but like the Lithuanian team of Margarita Drobiazko/Povilas Vanagas, have consistently placed among the top three in major competition.

The Americans: Naomi Lang and Peter Tschernyshev have improved markedly this season, skating faster and with more confidence. They have one of the season's most aesthetically-pleasing free dances. Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto are fresh off a win at the Junior World Championships and a break-through, second-place finish at Nationals.