What a dramatic night for the dancers! I have never seen a dance competition where more than one team falls let alone the splatfest that existed during the Original Dance. It wasn’t just trips over toe picks and little stumbles that plagued these dancers, but horrific tumbles out of dance lifts! Here’s a look at how it all went down (no pun intended).
In 16th place sits the relatively new American team of Jamie Silverstein and Ryan O’Meara. Jamie recently returned to the ice after a four year absence, teaming with Ryan only in the last year.
She spent her time away getting healthy (she’s an outspoken advocate for eating disorder recovery) and focusing on her studies. They had a good showing with a Salsa-Rhumba-Cha Cha medley. While their footwork is still rather easy, the lifts and spins are quite wonderful to watch. Silverstein has always been a natural-born performer and this dance really capitalized on that.
The U.S.’s husband and wife team of Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukov are currently in 14th place after the Original dance.
Their Mambo Kings Medley was sort of stiff. They had a slip on a step sequence but even without that something would have been lacking. Perhaps it’s the simple fact that neither of these two appears comfortable performing and Latin Rhythms require a performance.
Canada’s Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe have been skating hand in hand for twenty years now. They train in the states alongside of Belbin and Agosto under the direction of noted coach, Igor Sphilband. Currently ranked 12th, this team’s Tito Puente and Juan Gabriel medley was well executed.
Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski who represent Israel are having a rough competition. They took a bad fall in the compulsory dance and now find themselves struggling to catch up. They are trained by Olympic Champion Evgeny Platov and World Champion Alexandr Zhulin and usually find themselves near the top of the field.
They did make a huge leap back up to 6th place after the original dance but the performance itself was kind of bizarre. Galit’s white feather tiered skirt added a level of whimsy that just really doesn’t belong in a Rhumba. It was distracting and on one of the lifts it completely blocked her positioning. It’s a shame because aside from breakneck speed, the lifts are usually what this team does best.
One of the most powerful teams around is Albania’s Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski. They skated an intricate midline footwork sequence and had strong, fluid lifts. Just when I thought I was looking at a top three finish, they blew their dance spin. Completely blew it. She went into it with too much force and he just couldn’t catch her free leg in spite of a few attempts. The team finished the Original Dance in 5th place.
Lithuania’s Margarita Drobiazko and her husband Povilas Vanagas are competing in their fifth Olympics. They actually retired in 2002 and spent a few years performing in ice shows. They decided to come back to compete this year after skating diehards encouraged the leap of faith. This team has been a longtime favorite of mine. They are passionate, excellent technicians, choreograph their own programs and are simply a joy to watch. You want them to do well and they were, until Rita hit her toepick. Down they both went, breaking the flow of what was up until that point, a fantastic performance. A mandatory deduction has left them sitting in 8th place, likely out of medal contention.
They were followed by an extremely cautious looking Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of the Ukraine.
They are ranked third, but the Original Dance that they skated was very tight. Instead of performing their samba/rhumba medley, they looked like they were thinking all the way through it. That really affected their presentation.
My heart just broke for Canada’s Marie-France Dubreil and Patrice Lauzon. They attacked their dance like no other couple before them.
Their speed never slowed, the footwork sequences were powerful, the lifts were fully extended. Then came the last ten seconds of the programs. The very last element was a rotational lift. She was in a split position hanging onto his arm as they spun – until she lost her grip and went spinning out of control before hitting the ice on her right hip. It obviously hurt and after slowly leaving the ice, Patrice carried his partner to await their marks. The mandatory deduction dumped them into 7th place and whether or not she can even skate the Free Dance on Monday is questionable.
On Friday the home country team of Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio won the Compulsory Dance. Tonite a fall on a simple rotational lift dropped them into 10th place. She really fought for every minute of the dance but Maurizio looked nervous from the start. It’s kind of a sad finish for them. They retired back in 2002 and began training again last fall in order to skate in the Olympics their country hosted. She came back from having a baby with the hopes of a medal finish. That just won’t happen for them now.
Hands down, the very best team of the night was Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto who train in Michigan.
If you missed their skate, it really is your loss. Instead of a bunch of choppy music cuts they only changed tempos once. Their rhumba was slow and absolutely exquisite. Just when you wanted to see them pick up the pace, they did. They jammed footwork, 2 lifts and a fantastic rotational spin into the last portion of the program much to the audience’s delight. Everything they did was in unison and about as close to perfect as it gets. They jumped from 6th place all the way up to 2nd.
After two teams falling in a row, Russia’s Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostamarov took the ice and skated like the World Champions that they are. They were fluid, had great unison and hit their elements quite well.
In other words, they were nice, very good even – but not too exciting. Navka and Kostamarov find themselves leading after the Original Dance portion was completed. Will they hang onto first place and win Gold tomorrow night? I’m going to guess that they will. I’m also seeing Belbin and Agosto walking away with the silver. Bronze? That’s anybody’s guess!