Five-time U.S. ice dancing champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto announced today they will not compete at the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Cleveland, Ohio, Jan. 18-25, because of injury.
The Olympic silver medalists withdrew from last month's ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Goyang City, Republic of Korea, after Agosto suffered a back injury. Agosto said he is recuperating from the injury, but his pace of recovery has not allowed him to train at a competitive level.
"I am getting excellent treatment from my doctors," Agosto said, "but my back simply needs more time to mend. There's just no way to rush the healing process on this one.
"It's a huge disappointment for us," Agosto continued. "We had been looking forward to defending our title once again at the U.S. Championships. However, the good news is that I am making progress, and I hope to begin training again in a few weeks."
Agosto and Belbin are confident that they will be ready to compete at the 2009 World Figure Skating Championships, March 22-29, in Los Angeles.
"Ben is making steady progress," Belbin said, "While he recuperates, I am continuing to train hard on my own, so I am certain that we'll be in top shape before March. We have requested that U.S. Figure Skating consider us for the U.S. world team."
Belbin and Agosto are three-time world medalists, winning silver in 2005 and bronze in 2006 and 2007. They won the silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. The team trains in Aston, Pa., under the direction of former Olympic champions Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov.