Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's Tango time for ice dancers in Vancouver

Yesterday's media teleconference with Canadian world bronze medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir opened with the news that the sultry Tango Romantica had been drawn for the compulsory event, the first of three ice dance segments to be competed at the Vancouver Games.

This compulsory was first performed by 1976 Olympic champions Ludmilla Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov in Moscow in 1974. This newer generation of ice dancers will perform it on February 19th.

The other possible choice, the Golden Waltz, has already been announced as the compulsory at the 2010 ISU World Championships in Torino this March.

Setting aside long-ago memories of the 2006 Canadian Championships, where a poor performance in the Tango Romantica cost them a trip to the Torino Games, Virtue and Moir pronounced themselves pleased.

"It's a chance to show off our edges," Virtue said.

The Canadians competed the dance at Skate Canada in November, earning an impressive 40.69 points in their home country. Their training mates and likely rivals for the Vancouver podium, two-time U.S. champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White, performed the compulsory at two Grand Prix events this fall, Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy. Their high score was 38.09 points at NHK.

The third top North American team, reigning Olympic and silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, have not performed the Tango Romantica this season, although Belbin told the media prior to the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships that they have been practicing it.

"We've been working on the Tango Romantica -- it seems to be the buzz around town it's going to be the dance at the Olympic Games," she said during a January teleconference. "Everyone thinks it's going to be the Tango. We've been training [it] because we haven't competed it in several years."

Since the rules state one of the two dances is to be chosen in a blind draw prior to the first official Olympic practice, it is unknown how such buzz could have started.

Belbin famously fell on a compulsory at the 2008 worlds in Gothenberg, but that was on another Tango, the Argentine. Still, competing the unfamiliar dance would seem to put the five-time U.S. champions at a slight disadvantage.

The biggest winners appear to be Russian world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, who earned 42.78 points for their Tango Romantica at the recent European Championships, building up such a large lead (some 5.31 points over the eventual silver medalists) they won their second European title despite losing both the original dance and the free dance to Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali.

Full article.

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