February 16, 2006

Zhang could perform in gala after fall

By Jane Barrett

TURIN (Reuters) - Zhang Dan, the Chinese figure skater
whose spectacular fall has emerged as a defining moment of the
Turin Winter Olympics, could be healthy enough to take part in
the exhibition gala at the end of the Games.

"If possible, she will skate in the gala," Chinese team
doctor Ji Chunnan said of Zhang, who hurt her knee in the
tumble. "It will depend on the skater herself and the coach.

"We'll do another check next week and see how she's doing."

Zhang collapsed on the ice during the pairs free skate on
Monday as she and her partner Zhang Hao attempted to pull off
the first throw quadruple Salchow in international competition,
spinning four times through the air.

But Zhang landed badly, fell into the splits and slammed
against the side pads.

After skating around the ice doubled over in pain, the two
Zhangs picked up the routine where they had left off and still
managed to win silver as well as the admiration of the crowd.

Ji said Zhang had gone to hospital in Turin for a thorough
check up and had been diagnosed with a slight sprain to a
ligament in her left knee.

"She must not walk long distances for five days but she
should be fully recovered after a couple of weeks," Ji told

The top skaters of the Games are due to perform in an
exhibition gala on February 24, showing off many of the tricks
and turns they are not allowed to pull off in competition or
which they do not dare attempt while fighting for medals.

Zhang, who was walking without a limp at a news conference
on Thursday, would continue to use ice compressions to take
down the swelling in her knee and could start on acupuncture in
a couple of days, Ji said.