Tuesday, March 18, 2008

U.S. Ice Dancers Tumble During Compulsories

It's always a shock when ice dancers pratfall in elite competition.

But it was staggering to watch gold medal contenders from the United States do it - in the A-B-C, pro-forma compulsory dance segment of the event, at the World Championships.

Tanith Belbin, the 23-year-old beauty from Kingston, Ont. who received dual citizenship in order to represent America in international figure skating, took a gasp-inducing tumble in the opening phase of the dance-off here this morning and was ashen about it afterwards - even through the heavy layers of stage makeup.

"It's just a freak accident,'' she said, feathers trembling slightly on her head. "It's never happened (even) in practice. I wasn't nervous. It just sucks that it had to happen at worlds.''

Partner Benjamin Agosto stood mutely aside as the female half of this polished tandem tried to explain what had gone so horribly wrong.

The couple was just coming round a corner of the rink, actually slightly off pattern in the mandated Argentine Tango, when Belbin's trailing foot simply caught the ice badly and it was arse over teakettle.

"It's weird that falls happen in compulsories, period,'' she acknowledged. "And then to happen in a place where it's never happened before, it did catch me off guard.

"I'm really bummed out right now.''

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