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Disaster strikes, but Swiegers saves the day

Evora, Ladwig thank Canadian friend for boot loan

Canadian Rudi Swiegers graciously lent his boot to Mark Ladwig so the Americans could finish their program without penalty.
Canadian Rudi Swiegers graciously lent his boot to Mark Ladwig so the Americans could finish their program without penalty. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford and Alexandra Stevenson, special to icenetwork.com
(02/17/2011) - Mark Ladwig's boot may have met its end, but good sportsmanship hasn't.

Ladwig's left skate heel broke while he and partner Amanda Evora were competing their short program, choreographed by coach Jim Peterson to "Sing, Sing, Sing." After Ladwig fell on a triple toe loop, the U.S. silver medalists stopped and Ladwig exited the ice. Under ISU rules, the team had three minutes to return and finish the program from the point of the interruption.

Canadian bronze medalist Rudi Swiegers -- who skated in the first warm-up group with partner Paige Lawrence -- leaped into action, running from the stands to offer his left boot to Ladwig. The two wear the same size nine.

"Mark has been a good friend of ours," Swiegers said. "We've trained down in Sarasota with him for a couple of years now. I just felt he would do it for me. The least I could do is offer.

"When the [arena camera] zoomed in on the broken heel, I figured I would grab my skates, run down and offer and see if he could do it. Mark would do it for me because he is a great guy."

Lawrence and Swiegers have spent time training with Evora and Ladwig in their home rink in Ellenton, Fla., working with former Canadian world pair silver medalist Lyndon Johnston.

A grateful Ladwig said Swiegers' boot was "a little roomier in the toes than mine. I couldn't do everything I planned in the program, but I did pretty well."

Evora and Ladwig placed sixth in the short. They were not assessed a penalty for the delay. Under ISU rules, this means the event referee determined the interruption was not Ladwig's fault.

"I was kind of disappointed in myself right in the beginning [of the program]; I popped my [triple toe] for the first time this season," Evora said. "Unfortunately, we had the skate boot problem, and we were lucky enough to have another skate and be able to finish our short in order to do a very good long tomorrow.

"It was an experience you can't really prepare for or want, but we got through it together. I'm very proud of Mark and am excited about skating again tomorrow."

Before the free skate draw, Ladwig thanked Swiegers with a hug. Tongue-in-cheek, Swiegers said, "This skate needs to rest, it's done twice as much work tonight." Other skaters gave the sporting Canadian a round of applause.

Ladwig is not quite out of the woods yet. There is no skate technician on site in Taipei, so Peterson is working with the local organizing committee (LOC) to get the epoxy needed to repair the skate for Friday's free skate.