Monday, January 11, 2010

On the comeback trail

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are the reigning World Champions in Ice Dance, however, they have fallen off the radar this Olympic season after missing the Grand Prix series due to Shabalin's reoccurring knee injury.

Last week, the team finally debuted their programs at the Russian National Figure Skating Championships in St. Petersburg. The question wasn't if they would win, but what kind of programs they had picked for this season and what shape are they in.

People were in for a surprise. Domnina and Shabalin went into a completely and new direction with their "Aboriginal" original dance, and also looked different in their dramatic free dance to The Double Life of Véronique.

"We've searched for a long time," said Domnina of their original dance. "We were looking at different choices. We wanted to do something new and unusual and Natalia Vladimirovna (Linichuk) suggested this music to us.

"At first we declined," said Domnina. "This music was difficult to understand when we heard it for the first time, and I think it is also difficult for the spectators and others."

Nevertheless, the team decided this would be something new and different and they went for it. "I don't remember what I thought when I heard the music for the first time," said Shabalin. "I think this music has found us, not we found the music. Of course, this was a risk, but we went for it because we were hoping to be different from the other couples."

The former European Champions did research on the internet and watched videos of Aboriginal dances. "Actually we put this dance together rather easily although it is something unusual for us," Domnina pointed out. "We didn't have any major problems with creating and doing these moves. We've watched video clips in the internet of these dances and it is really like this - complete with the leaves around the knees (see photo)."

It takes Shabalin about 15 minutes to apply his make-up, while his partner needs about 45 minutes. At nationals, make-up artists were on hand to help, but usually the skaters do it themselves. "Usually we are sitting and chanting mantras for five hours and are applying the make-up to each other," joked Shabalin. "This was at the beginning, but now the time is shorter and we went down from five hours to about 20 minutes."

Full article.

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