Friday, March 23, 2007
Belbin, Agosto happy to get bronze
TOKYO -- Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto were all dressed up
and ready to leave the building.
Then they were called to come get a medal, the United States'
first at this year's World Figure Skating Championships.
"I guess we dodged a bullet on that one," Agosto said. "We've
been working really hard on the program. We didn't skate our best,
but I guess we did it good enough."
The bronze guarantees the U.S. team at least one medal, with the
women's finale still to come Saturday. Defending world champion
Kimmie Meissner is in fourth after the short program. Emily Hughes
was sixth and Alissa Czisny 18th.
Belbin and Agosto put their "Amelie" free dance together
midway through the season, and only performed it for the first time
at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January. Two months
later, it still had some rough spots.
Belbin bobbled a twizzle -- a one-foot spin -- and nearly bumped
into Agosto. The Olympic silver medalists also lost a point on an
"I can't believe I missed my twizzle. I never do that," Belbin
When they finished, the looks on their faces seemed to say they
thought they were out of the running for a medal. They were in
third place coming into the free dance, and two couples behind them
in the standings had yet to skate.
"I was already changed and ready to go," Belbin said. "But I
learned a lesson. Don't take anything for granted."
When the competition finished, Bulgarians Albena Denkova and
Maxim Staviski had won their second consecutive gold medal.
Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon took the silver.
And Belbin and Agosto had their bronze, despite finishing fourth
in the free dance.
The final standings were exactly the same as at last year's
"We're looking forward to having a nice summer to train and to
finally get our basic skating to another level," Belbin said. "I
really expect more from us in the future, and I think we can really
step it up from this point forward, so we ask our fans to stand by
us as we push forward."
Also making a push forward were American youngsters Meryl Davis
and Charlie White, who were seventh at their first world
championships as seniors. It's the best debut for a U.S. dance team
since Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert were sixth at the 1980
Though Davis and White already have a strong reputation -- they
were bronze medalists at junior worlds last year -- it usually takes
years for couples to crack the top 10 when they move up to the
senior level. Belbin and Agosto were 17th at their first senior
world championships in 2001, and didn't move into the top 10 until
"Moving up to this level is all new for us, so it's just so
exciting and motivating for us to push our careers," Davis said.
The third American team, Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov,
In the women's competition, Meissner was thrilled to land her
triple lutz-triple toe loop combination. The lutz has been giving
her trouble, and she even fell on it during warmups.
"The short program is always a little nerve-racking for me,"
Meissner said. "I was super excited to land that combination."
Meissner's score of 64.67 was a personal best. But she's still
behind South Korea's Kim Yu-na, who posted a record international
short program best of 71.95 points; Miki Ando of Japan (67.98), and
Italian Carolina Kostner (67.15). Japan's teenage sensation Mao
Asada struggled, and is in fifth place, more than 10 points behind