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Russian Ice Skaters' 'Aboriginal' Routine Offends Australians (VIDEO)

First Posted: 03/23/10 06:12 AM ET Updated: 05/25/11 04:15 PM ET

A routine by Russia's world champion ice skaters Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin has been accused of being offensive to indigenous Australians.

The duo wore loin cloths and leaves to help extend their lead at the European figure skating championships on Thursday. They are expected to use the routine at this years Winter Olympics, where they are favorites to win.

The routine is based upon dances by indigenous Australians.

'Aboriginal people for very good reason are sensitive about their cultural objects and icons being co-opted by non-Aboriginal people - whether they are from Australia or Russia," said Bev Manton, chair of the NSW Land Council.

Australian skaters were also offended, arguing that two Aussie skaters, Danielle O'Brien and Greg Merriman, first performed an Aboriginal-inspired dance at a Korean competition in 2008. According to reports, their routine was only conducted after heavy consultations and research with indigenous Australian communities.

The duo were shocked to hear of the offense they had caused. Shabalin said, "We researched a lot of information on the Internet. It's just from many thousands of years ago and it wasn't our goal (to be authentic)."

Domnina has also revealed that they decided to use the music after her dog reacted to the melody.

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Filed by Adam Taylor  |