Belbin and Agosto Take Early Lead in Compulsory Dance

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto
Photo by Michelle Harvath

2005 Smart Ones Skate America News, Results and Photos

(10/20/05) - 2005 Smart Ones Skate America opened Thursday with the compulsory dance – the Ravensburger Waltz. Reigning U.S. champions Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto took first with a score of 36.73. France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivia Schoenfelder actually won the technical score (18.22 over the Americans' 18.00) but were half a point behind in the components to score 36.73. In third are the Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin with 32.41.

Belbin is currently fighting bronchitis and a sinus infection.

“I think with my being sick, we were a little bit cautious preparing for the competition the past few days,” Belbin said. “I think we really tested the waters out there, and now we can really let loose and unleash our real skating. This was just a nice warm-up for us.”

“It was pretty good,” Agosto added. “There wasn't really much wrong with it. We felt very comfortable out there. The crowd was great, very warm and welcoming.”

Agosto said they adapted to the smaller size of the Boardwalk Hall rink.

“The Ravensburger Waltz is very different from rink to rink,” Agosto said. “We were just in Nebelhorn (in Oberstdorf, Germany) a few weeks ago and had an extra wide rink. You just have to adjust your pattern and it takes a little bit of practice.

“Nebelhorn was a great opportunity for us to experience competing our new programs, get this season underway and not be stressed for the Grand Prix and still have the response and the input from the new judging system,” he continued. “Now it's just a matter of us getting used to the new rules and the new elements we have to perform and how we have to perform them.”

Delobel and Schoenfelder were pleased with their performance.

“We [skated] good,” Schoenfelder said. “[It was the] first time we [have gone] to a competition this season. It's good to take the ambience, to feel the pressure again. You have a very good couple against you.”

The Russians were less thrilled.

“It was a good job,” Shabalin said. “Probably the size of the rink was trouble. Usually we skate [on an] Olympic size rink. This rink is too small.”

The other U.S. teams, Jamie Silverstein & Ryan O'Meara, and Tiffany Stiegler & Sergey Magerovskiy, finished sixth and 11th, respectively. Stiegler and Magerovskiy, who drew first to skate, took a tumble on the first pattern of the dance. They could have placed at least eighth without the mandatory deductions.

“I lost my edge on the rocker, and he stumbled over me,” Stiegler said. “We picked it up pretty well, and we ended up doing the second pattern on time, so that was good. We had pretty good speed and flow. It would have been a fantastic dance, I think, if we didn't fall on that rocker. We have to establish some experience, and hopefully we'll do better in the future.”

Asked if she enjoys the Ravensburger, Stiegler was blunt.

“This would be one of my least favorites,” she said. “Sergey has a lot of power and our size difference is extreme. I feel out of control. It's hard for me to stay centered.”

Silverstein was beaming backstage after their performance.

“I was just thrilled!” she said. “It feels extra special. It felt just really good to get here finally.”