Belbin and Agosto Defend Their Title at Smart Ones Skate America

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

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(10/23/04) - It's been 21 years since a U.S. ice dancing team has won back-to-back Skate America titles. But Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto broke that streak Saturday when they repeated as champions this year at 2004 Smart Ones Skate America.

"It feels wonderful to be champions again," Agosto said. "Now we're going to polish the program and make it ready to shine. It's a good competition to have under our belts."

They felt their first competition with their new gypsy folk dance free skate was a good performance but contained a couple of technical bobbles. Belbin said they will work on those elements before their next Grand Prix event.

"We'll clean it up; go home and re-choreograph some things and be that much better in China," Belbin said, referring to the Cup of China next month.

Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky of Israel earned their second Skate America medal as well, taking the silver medal on Saturday. Chait said they are glad to be back on the podium again at the Grand Prix Series.

She said their program to "Toccata and Fugue in D minor" represents their career to this point, thus making it a special program for them.

"I've loved this music my whole life and always wanted to skate to it," she said. "It's the story of our career with its ups and downs, the good and the bad. It's emotional for us."

Canadians Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe earned their first Grand Prix medal. Skating to "Zorba the Greek," Wing and Lowe had what they called their best first performance of the year.

"It's a huge accomplishment for us," Wing said.

They, too, had a bobble on a spin but feel good about the fact that they have only one element to work on before they compete in Skate Canada next weekend. Lowe said they would look at the judging details from this competition and make adjustments later if needed.

U.S. ice dancers Kendra Goodwin & Brent Bommentre were proud of their showing at their first senior Grand Prix event.

"It was a great experience," Bommentre said. "This is just the beginning of our ride."

Both feel that their program to "Evita" allows them to really express themselves and represent the music.

"There's a relationship already built into the music to latch on to which helps with our expression," Goodwin said. "The four different pieces of music allow us to interpret different emotions while still keeping the same story line."

Loren Galler-Rabinowitz & David Mitchell admitted to being disappointed with their Skate America experience, although the last two segments of the competition went relatively well. Both look forward to starting with a clean slate next week.

"We've been pretty successful but sometimes you have a fluke thing that colors the rest of the week," Galler-Rabinowitz said.

"It happens," Mitchell added.