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Painful afternoon unfolds at figure skating championships

March 28, 2009 |  4:54 pm

Didier_500

Watching the early groups of skaters in the free skate, the ones who scored worst in the short program, can be both heartwarming and frightening. So far today it's been both.

The first skater, Ana Cecilia Cantu of Mexico, fell on her first jump and on another fall she hit the boards harder than any Kings hockey player. Cantu finished her routine, though, just like she did at Four Continents where you can see some of her routine here.

But more frightening was the fall taken by French skater Candice Didier, who, in the first minute of her routine missed a jump that left her sliding into the boards, first with her elbow, then head and finally with her torso. She screamed in pain, curled into a ball and held her ribs as medical personnel lifted her off the ice. As she sat in the kiss-and-cry area bent over in pain fans shouted "turn off the cameras" and her suffering was taken off the large overhead monitor.

After an allowed three-minute injury timeout, however, Didier gathered herself and finished her routine with only one other fall. She received a standing ovation and smiled through her tears while holding her side as she awaited her scores. Her routine actually put her in first place after three skaters. And here's Didier during her short program Friday.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: Candice Didier falls to the ice and toward the boards at Staples Center during her long program on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center. Credit: Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty Images

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