Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Belbin and Agosto Leave Longtime Coaches

Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are leaving their longtime coaches, a month after missing the podium at the world championships for the first time since 2004.

The ice dancers will move to Aston, Pa., to train with Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov, the Olympic gold medalists in 1980. Belbin and Agosto have trained with Igor Shpilband since they started skating together in 1988.

"Detroit will always be like home for us," Agosto said. "But sometimes to grow you need to leave home and explore new opportunities."

Belbin and Agosto are the most successful dance team the United States has ever had. Their silver medal at the 2005 world championships was the first by an American dance duo in 20 years, and they added bronzes in 2006 and 2007. Their silver at the Turin Games was only the second Olympic medal for a U.S. team, and the first since 1976.

They won their fifth straight U.S. title in January, tying a record.

But Belbin and Agosto had a dismal showing at worlds.

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