Ice Dancing, Free Dance
Today’s competition opened with the Free Dance. In what was a close competition, Oksana Domnina/Maxim Shabalin of Russia came out on top to win their first gold medal in the Grand Prix Final. Tanith Belbin/Benjamin Agosto settled for the silver, and Isabelle Delobel/Olivier Schoenfelder earned the bronze, their first medal in this event. The top three couples were separated by only 2.17 points.
Domnina/Shabalin, who stood in third place following the Original Dance, gave an emotional and technically strong performance to “Waltz Masquerade” by Aram Khatchaturian, telling the story of a girl that is forced to marry a rich man that she doesn’t love. The Russian Champions completed well synchronized twizzles, intricate footwork, a straight line lift in a low position, a curve lift and a reverse rotational lift. All their eight elements were graded a level four by the Technical Panel, and the European silver medalists posted a new personal best score of 103.26 points (53.50 element score/49.76 program component score). They racked up a total of 165.57 points to overtake Belbin/Agosto and Delobel/Schoenfelder. “I am very happy that we were able to really do our best technically and emotionally. So we felt really pleased and happy, because if you feel that you did your best it gives you an inner satisfaction. The result is still important, but it is also very important to feel that happiness inside. Yesterday we weren’t as pleased with what we did because we felt ourselves that it wasn’t the best we can do”, Domnina said. “Today wasn’t the most important victory of our career – hopefully that one is still to come – but it was the first competition where all the top couples met and we wanted to position ourselves well”, she continued. The couple also revealed that Shabalin is suffering from an inflammation in his left knee that started to bother him at their last practice at home before coming to Italy. “We weren’t even sure if we can compete”, Domnina said.
Belbin/Agosto’s classical medley of pieces by Frédéric Chopin featured smooth step sequences, and effortless looking yet difficult lifts including a curve-rotational lift with changes of position and a serpentine lift. Seven out of the eight elements were awarded a level four and only the serpentine lift was a level three. The Americans scored 100.50 points (51.50/49.00) and slipped from first to second place at 164.14 points. Belbin/Agosto won a second silver medal in the Final after 2005 in the same ice rink where they took the Olympic silver in 2006. They had not competed in the Final the past two seasons.
Delobel/Schoenfelder had chosen music from “The Piano” soundtrack, telling the love story of a deaf woman and a hearing man. The European Champions executed strong footwork, earning a level four for the side by side midline steps and a level three for the circular steps and showed beautiful lifts like a rotational lift and a serpentine lift with changes of position. The French picked up 100.11 points (51.40/48.71), which was a new seasons best for them. They overall accumulated 163.40 points.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS