Belbin and Agosto Still Leading the Pack at Smart Ones Skate America

by Amy Partain
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto
Photo by Michelle Harvath

(10/22/04) - Coming in as defending champions doesn't seem to be affecting Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto at 2004 Smart Ones Skate America. They performed another solid performance in the original dance on Friday.

Skating to the Charleston, foxtrot and quickstep, they earned an original dance score of 63.40 to keep the lead in the competition. The dance wasn't perfect, but both Belbin & Agosto were pleased with the performance.

"Technically I had a bobble on the side by side footwork, so we know that there are a few areas that we need to work on when we get home," Belbin said.

But they said that the audience was great, which helped them put on a good performance. They admitted that there is a little more pressure on them coming in as defending Skate America champions, but neither felt it was affecting their skating.

"In the past we've usually been coming from behind after the compulsory dance," Agosto said. "So it feels a little different to be starting out higher. But we feel confident and comfortable in our dances so we can go out and do our job."/p>

The teams sitting in second and third didn't change after the original dance. Israeli skaters Galit Chait & Sergei Sakhnovsky are in second and Canadians Megan Wing & Aaron Lowe are in third.

Chait also praised the Pittsburgh audience.

"The dance was quick," she said. "It felt good tonight and the audience was good, which helped it fly by."

For Wing & Lowe it feels good to start off the season without dealing with an injury. Wing has struggled with tendonitis in her knee and had to have surgery after she tore a ligament in her knee at the 2003 World Championships.

"It is so much easier to come in trained and to be on schedule," she said. "And it is a mental relief not to have to come back from an injury."

U. S. ice dancers Kendra Goodwin & Brent Bommentre moved up two spaces after the original dance and are in seventh place going into the free dance, They felt they skated with high energy and had a lot of fun. So far, they're having a great experience in their first senior Grand Prix event.

"We're getting better every time we go out there," Bommentre said. "So I think the free skate will be even better."

Goodwin agreed, saying she thinks they are handling the event well and that they are thankful to be at Skate America.

Loren Galler-Rabinowitz & David Mitchell also moved up a spot in the standings, sitting in ninth place after the original dance. They both seemed to enjoy their dance, which was a combination of the foxtrot and Charleston.