Belbin and Agosto Heat Up the Ice at Smart Ones Skate America

by Michelle Wojdyla, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto's original dance
Photo by Michelle Harvath

2006 Smart Ones Skate America Results, Photos and Video

(10/21/05) - Day two of Smart Ones Skate America opened with the original dance at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J. The top three skaters remained the same with Tanith Belbin & Ben Agosto in first with 58.37. France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder were second with 55.77 and Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin third with 51.50.

Americans Jamie Silverstein & Ryan O'Meara were fourth in this segment but remain fifth overall behind Canadians (and training partners) Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe. Tiffany Stiegler & Sergey Magerovskiy made the jump up to seventh in the OD and are in seventh overall.

Agosto declared his program “Muy bien!

“This is a great program for us because we can really get into these characters,” he said. “I'm really happy with how we were able to connect with each other and the audience. It felt like a good response. We had a great time out there.”

“I don't think we could have asked for more from our first Grand Prix performance of this program,” Belbin said. “We just wanted to go out there and have fun with it. Any technical bobbles that occurred we're just going to be putting toward our work for the rest of the competition. We really weren't thinking about technique at all, just connecting with the audience and enjoying this program. It's so much fun. It's short, it's quick. It connects to the audience. It's familiar songs.”

Belbin and Agosto opened with the salsa, a rhythm new to the original dance.

“Definitely, the salsa is a great rhythm for us to skate to,” Agosto said. “We were lucky enough to be able to go to Mexico in the springtime for a little vacation and to get actual authentic salsa dancing experience. It's a fun rhythm. It's a fun dance to do. Hopefully everyone will see we are having as much fun as we are.”

With all level three and fours, Belbin and Agosto performed a dynamic program to salsa-rhumba-cha cha that had the audience with them from the first move. Their costumes had a bit of a different look to them, and Belbin's was held together by thin bands of elastic.

“A ballroom company, Doré, made these for us,” Belbin said. “They sought us out at the beginning of the season and said they would love to start doing figure skating stuff and they'd love to start with us. They're fantastic and they're really authentic. This is what Latin ballroom dancers are wearing now. It was really revealing! It makes a huge difference to have skin-on-skin contact when you are trying to do as sexy a dance as rhumba. You can't do that with layers of nude material all over you. You realize once you put them on that we felt most in character with these costumes.”

“This is my favorite dress!” Agosto said, smiling.

Delobel and Schoenfelder had a miscue in their side-by-side footwork that cost them points.

“Isabelle did one extra twizzle,” Schoenfelder explained.

“I was like, OK, let's do one more! He didn't know,” Delobel laughed.

“I also missed a step, because we change (the choreography) very often,” Schoenfelder added. “This time I skated the last (version). We need to practice more.”

Last to skate in the event were Silverstein and O'Meara. They were pleased with their performance.

“It's cool to have a crowd that comes to see dance,” Silverstein said. “Major props to Tanith and Ben for that, because they've done so well and done a lot for American ice dancing. Some of the people remember me, and I hear my name and it's cool. I'm proud to be out there with Ryan.”

“It feels like we've been skating together for definitely a lot longer than we have been,” O'Meara said. “It feel incredibly comfortable. I've never experienced what I've experienced at this competition as far as just skating and having a great time. It feels great, like I've never felt before.”

After a fall in the compulsory dance Stiegler and Magerovskiy made a nice comeback and moved up four places.