Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto accentuated the positive during their pre-worlds media teleconference Wednesday.
Not only has Agosto recovered from a back injury, allowing the five-time U.S. ice dance champions to compete at the 2009 ISU World Figure Skating Championships in Los Angeles in 10 days, but they might just be better than ever, they said.
That wasn't the case at the Grand Prix Final in December, where Agosto's back pain forced the couple to withdraw after the original dance.
"I was diagnosed with a herniated disk in my lower back and also a bulging disk," he said. "We weren't able to trace it to any traumatic incident; it just started getting worse and worse until finally it was really bad."
Agosto was off the ice for three weeks, forcing the couple to miss the 2009 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships and a chance at a sixth consecutive title. In their absence, their former training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White easily won their first U.S. crown.
Now, after rest, therapy and several injections, Agosto said he is fully fit.
"I [started with] baby steps, stroking," he explained. "From there on it's been gradual adding, adding, walking the fine line between getting the work done that needs to be accomplished, but not injuring myself again.
"At this point I don't really feel that I'm tentative; I feel I can go into my elements with the same vigor."
Belbin went even further, not only is she ready to compete, she's improved her technique. "I didn't take a day off while he was recovering. I trained the day after we came back from the Grand Prix Final," she said. "It gave me great opportunity to work on my extension, my control . . . maybe this had been a blessing in disguise. It's always hard to find time to work on basic technique by yourself."