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My niece Ottawa's golden girl Dana Zhalko-Tytarenko (Моя племянница)

27 апреля´07 8:20 Просмотров: 595 Комментариев: 0
By Rob Brodie

HALIFAX -- Dana Zhalko-Tytarenko wore a look of astonishment that so perfectly described her remarkable achievement.

This was a picture that spoke a thousands words, indeed. Even if the charming 15-year-old from Ottawa could only think of three.

The Minto Skating Club competitor pulled a major shocker in the junior women's event at the Canadian figure skating championships yesterday morning. With a free skate that produced a personal best score by a bunch, Zhalko-Tytarenko soared to the first gold medal by an Ottawa skater in the event in 15 years.

Angela Derochie, then of the Nepean Skating Club, was the last to do it in 1992 in Moncton, N.B. But nobody would have guessed that Zhalko-Tytarenko, who was 14th as a novice at the Skate Canada Junior Nationals a year ago, would be the one to match that feat.

Surely not the skater herself.

"As soon as I saw the '1' up there on the (scoreboard) ... I was going 'oh, my God' for about 10 minutes straight," said Zhalko-Tytarenko minutes after her triumph. "That's pretty much all I'm still thinking. When I came here, I wanted to make top five. That was my only goal. There's no way I was expecting to come first. After (she was third) in the short program, I just wanted to hold on to that spot ... I really wanted to make the podium. I wasn't even thinking about first place."

Zhalko-Tytarenko was the last to skate in the event, and laid down a virtually clean program that included three triple jumps. She posted a score of 71.26 points, a personal best by a whopping 10.12.

Her overall total of 109.40 edged McKenzie Pedersen of Okotoks, Alta. (106.79) for the gold.

Until yesterday, Zhalko-Tytarenko had played bridesmaid for much of the season. She finished second at the Eastern Ontario Sectionals by a scant 0.03 points, and missed a medal at the Skate Canada Eastern Challenge by 0.89.

"When I went to sectionals, I really wanted to get the gold medal and then I lost by three-one hundredths of a point and that made me even more determined," she said. "I knew I had to work really hard, because I wanted a medal. I wanted to get first place somewhere."

Zhalko-Tytarenko was born in Kiev, and moved to Canada when she was four years old. She lived in Winnipeg for four years before her father Andrew's job (an aerospace engineer) took her to Washington, D.C., then Ottawa.

She bears a striking resemblance to fellow Ukrainian Oksana Baiul, who won Olympic gold in Lillehammer in 1994. Zhalko-Tytarenko was only three years old then, but Baiul is her skating idol.

The new champion credits a return to the Washington suburb of Laurel, Md., and coach Genrikh Sretenski, a former Soviet ice dance star, with her meteoric rise this season. But she will accept her gold medal today as a proud Canadian (her family still has an apartment in Ottawa).

"I love Canada ... I still think of Canada as my home," she said. "It makes me feel so proud that I am able to represent Canada in this way.

"I can't even begin to describe it."

Minto's Annie Claire Bergeron-Oliver wound up 10th, while clubmate Alexandrine Chong was 14th.

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