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Figure skating: Pekarek, Silverstein finish 2nd

Detroit teammates first

Friday, February 11, 2000

By Lori Shontz, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

CLEVELAND -- As usual, Jamie Silverstein was chattering.

Sitting in front of a microphone in a fabulous mood -- making the world championships on the first try can have that effect -- she launched into a story about how she grew up in Pittsburgh and how now she trains in Detroit and how the people who drove from Pittsburgh to see her had last seen the U.S. Figure Skating Championships when they were held in Detroit, and ...

Her partner, Justin Pekarek, stared at her, then asked, deadpan, "Where are you going with this?" That prompted laughter from a room of journalists and from Silverstein.

"My stories sometimes get like this," Silverstein said, giggling. "I apologize."

She didn't need to. Because as opposite as she and Pekarek can be,when they are together on the ice, they are magic.

They proved it again last night at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, where they finished second in the free dance and second overall in their first try at the senior level. They will compete in March at the World Figure Skating Championships in Nice, France.

Wearing navy costumes highlighted by purple and skating to two Tori Amos songs and a selection from the "Great Expectations" soundtrack, Silverstein and Pekarek -- the 1999 junior world champions -- glided across the ice smoothly and swiftly, not quite earning a standing ovation but moving many in the crowd to stand and applaud.

They work so well together, the dancers agree, because they are just different enough.

"You would not want to see a team with two people like me," Silverstein, 16, said, giggling again.

"It wouldn't work," said Pekarek, 18, perfectly straight-faced. "Constant fighting."

"I'm very passionate about certain things," Silverstein explained, serious for a second. "Justin is totally, exactly as passionate about things, but it a different way. We feed off of that."

The gold went to Silverstein and Pekarek's teammates at the Detroit Skating Club, Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, who skated a program choreographed by Christopher Dean and received the first perfect 6.0 of their careers, for presentation.

Lang and Tchernyshev earned first-place marks from seven of the nine judges -- the other two went to Silverstein and Pekarek -- despite a slip by Tchernyshev toward the end of their program.

"We like having them at the rink because they're always happy," Lang said, smiling at Silverstein and Pekarek.

"I think we push each other at the rink. I think we benefit from both of us being there."

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