Wardrobe Malfunction Not Enough to Stop Belbin and Agosto from Taking Over First Place

by Mickey Brown
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto
Photo by Matt Stockman/Getty Images

2007 Four Continents Results, Photos, Video and News

Note: Canadian pairs skater Jessica Dubé was injured during the pairs free skate on Thursday and was taken to the hospital. During the side-by-side spin, Dubé got too close to her partner Bryce Davison, and he hit her with his blade. Further updates on her condition will follow as soon as possible.

(2/8/2007) - Tanith Belbin should have known something was amiss at Thursday morning's original dance practice.

Wearing a new dress for her and Ben Agosto's tango program, Belbin got her skate caught in the flowing material during the one-foot section of their midline step sequence.

Her response to this first-time occurrence was a natural one.

“I thought, ‘That's weird.'”

The mishap recurred during the original dance competition Thursday afternoon at the World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo., this time with Belbin ripping a portion of her dress as a result. She and Agosto soldiered on through the otherwise passion-filled performance and wound up leapfrogging over Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, who had a tougher go of it than their American rivals, to assume first place in the ice dancing competition at the Four Continents Championships by the slimmest of margins, 98.17-97.86.

All Belbin and Agosto could do afterwards was laugh about the wardrobe malfunction.

“Luckily, she has extremely good balance, and it was on a one-foot section, so she didn't have to have that foot down,” Agosto quipped. “She didn't need that foot immediately.”

“You should get more points if you can do a midline, one-foot section with your foot in your skirt,” Belbin cleverly retorted.

Despite their attempts to laugh off the incident, it was obvious it did bother them.

“It's more frustrating than making a silly mistake because I feel like it's out of my control,” said Belbin, who assured the gathered reporters that she would either alter the dress or get a new one for their next competition, the World Championships next month in Tokyo.

The most ironic thing about it is that, besides the tearing of the dress, the execution of that element was top notch.

“It's one of best times we've competed that midline section,” Agosto said. “All of our edges felt so much more defined than what we had done at nationals.” Dubreuil and Lauzon had problems of their own in their “Paya d Ora” program, during which she put her foot down on a twizzle and had a bobble during a transition. “At the end of the footwork and twizzles I stumbled, and it threw me off,” Dubreuil said. “No reason, just unfocused.”

Despite winning their fifth Canadian title by nearly 15 points over their next closest competitors three weeks ago in Halifax, Dubreuil and Lauzon were not pleased with how they performed there and were expecting more from themselves this week.

“We had rough a nationals.” Dubreuil said. “We came here and prepared our best, but some days it's just not there. We felt a little bit beside our body today.

The aforementioned “next closest competitors” had arguably the cleanest skate of the day. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir received all level fours for their “Association Tango,” a first for the Canadian silver medalists, and earned the highest technical score (31.23) of the day. For such a young team (he's 19, she's 17), they have an energy and expression that is frequently found in more mature teams.

They also are among the stable of skaters coached by Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, who, along with Belbin and Agosto and the current fourth-place team of Meryl Davis & Charlie White, have three of the top four teams in the dance standings at Four Continents.

“Igor said to us before we went out, ‘Solid and passionate,'” Virtue said. “I feel like we used that and felt the music and felt the program.”

Davis and White joined Virtue and Moir as the only teams to receive exactly zero negative GOEs for any of their elements. Their score of 54.66 gives them a total of 88.34, about 2.5 points behind Virtue and Moir going into Friday afternoon's free dance.

“Our level of intensity was raised a little bit,” Davis said. “Technically, we've gotten better scores, but we've really been shooting for commitment and intensity, and I think we improved upon that.”

The third American team at Four Continents, Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre achieved a personal best with a score of 48.44, receiving all level fours except for their diagonal step sequence. They are in fifth place, ahead of Canadians Lauren Senft and Leif Gislason.

Navarro and Bommentre weren't expecting to come to Four Continents after their fourth-place finish at the U.S. Championships, but Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov's withdrawal from the event opened up a spot for them.

“We want to treat this as an encore, as a bonus, something to add to our collection of international experience this year,” Navarro said.