Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, America's most accomplished ice dancing pair skated a clean program in the compulsory dance program Friday...
EVERETT, Wash. — Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, America’s most accomplished ice dancing pair skated a clean program in the compulsory dance program Friday and were second in the Skate America standings.
The five-time national champions and Olympic silver medalists finished with 37.63 points, trailing defending world champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder’s 38.49. The original dance is Saturday night and the free dance is Sunday.
Britain’s brother-sister pair of Sinead and John Kerr were third with 34.37.
The pairs and men’s short program were set for Friday night.
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Compulsory dance, where each couple skates to the same music and the same pattern for two rotations around the rink, is considered the easiest segment of the ice dancing competition as the competitors are judged for their mastery of fundamental elements.
But for Belbin and Agosto, it was anything but stress-free. They were heavy favorites for gold at the world championships last March, but failed to medal when Belbin fell during the compulsory, a rare gaffe. Since then, they changed coaches and moved from their longtime training center in Detroit to outside Philadelphia. Skate America, the sport’s season opener, is their first competition since the worlds.
“Very nervous, absolutely,” Belbin said. “But thankfully our new coaches have been really working on our knee bend and strength in our legs.”
On Friday, they skated smoothly and confidently to the Viennese Waltz in the season’s first Grand Prix, a series of six international competitions.
“It was the first time we’ve done a compulsory dance at any event where we weren’t shaking the entire time,” Belbin said. “We’re always nervous that something’s going to go wrong in the compulsory. When you expect a fall, it happens. So this time I’m glad to get it out of the way without any falls.”
The crowd seemed to share their relief, giving them the biggest round of applause of any of the nine competing couples.
“It was actually really enjoyable out there today,” Agosto said. “I felt like we did a good job with the base that we’re working on and we’re moving in the right direction. Next time we do this dance it’ll be even stronger, even bigger.”