2004 World Figure Skating Championships: Ice Dance Highlights
Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia won the gold in their second trip to Worlds together as a team. Bulgarians Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski won silver while Germany’s Kati Winkler and Rene Lohse won bronze.
The Compulsory Dance drawn for the World Championships was the Midnight Blues, the newest of the Compulsory Dances. It was invented by Roy Bradshaw, Sue Bradshaw, Mark Bradshaw, and Julie MacDonald and first performed in 2001 in Vancouver, Canada. As there were more than 25 entries in the event, the couples were divided into two Qualifying Groups for the Compulsory Dance (CD). Group B was drawn to skate first.
This event marked the first time the Midnight Blues was ever used in an ISU Championship. Many of the couples are still learning the steps.
“Lena (Grushina) and Ruslan (Goncharov) showed us the steps during the exhibition practice at Europeans,” said Navka, who revealed she had only been practicing the dance with her partner for a month.
Navka and Kostomarov led Group B, followed by Winkler and Lohse and France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder.
“We skated really well, especially because this is the first time we skate this new dance [in competition],” said Navka, admitting they had only been working on the dance for a month. “It is additional stress to skate this new dance, nobody has skated it. I think everyone was nervous.”
Winkler and Lohse, who were unable to compete last month at the European Championships due to a ligament injury in Lohse’s right knee.
“We are so happy to be back again after one year without international championships,” Winkler said. The team had also missed the 2003 World Championships due to injury. “The best thing is that we are in Germany. We practiced so hard to skate well here in Dortmund and it worked out.” Lohse added, “We really fought to come to Dortmund. I am so happy that I had the strength to do it. It is great to skate in Germany and the audience was perfect for us.”
Delobel and Schoenfelder are also overcoming an injury from two weeks ago when Delobel ran over Schoenfelder’s left hand in practice, severing a muscle.
“We felt very strong going into the competition. The practices went well so far and we are feeling solid on the ice,” said Delobel.
Israel’s Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski finished fourth in Qualifying Group B.
Denkova and Staviski led Group A, with Ukraine’s Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov placing second and Canada’s Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon placing third.
“I think there wasn’t enough time for learning this new dance,” said Denkova. “We skated the three other compulsories in the Grand Prix and had less time for the Blues. The little extras, I think, will come if the dance will be kept for the next seasons. The Blues allows us to show good knee action, which I believe is one of our strong points. I also think the upper body movements are good. We have a strong Blues in the original dance as well.” Staviski added, “As the judges and coaches don’t yet know all the technical aspects of this dance (which is normal as it is new), we tried to focus on the choreography and expression so that it was like a real Blues.”
“We had a good start because the ice is very good here in Dortmund,” said Goncharov. “I really like it that we just have to skate one Compulsory Dance. For most couples it is the first time that they skate this Midnight Blues. It is very interesting to see.”
“It was most interesting to skate this dance for the first time,” said Dubreuil. “We enjoyed it. It’s a fun a dance. We started working on it after Four Continents. So I guess it’s six weeks ago.” Lauzon added, “It’s always fun to do the first part of the competition. When it’s out of the way you can relax for the rest!”
USA’s Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto finished fourth in their Qualifying Group A.
The ice dance event continued with the Original Dance (OD). The theme this season is the “Swing Combo”, whereby couples can choose any two or three of the following rhythms: Blues, Jive, Rock’n'Roll, Jitterbug, Boogie Woogie and/or Swing. The OD was worth 30 percent of the overall score.
Navka and Kostomarov performed to a Blues and Rock’n'Roll routine which featured a nice rotational lift, midline steps that were performed on one foot for half the sequence, and a good diagonal step sequence. The 2004 European champions earned marks from 5.6 to 6.0 for a first place finish in the OD and overall.
“That was it for this OD!” said Kostomarov. “It’s a bit sad to say goodbye to this good original dance, but we competed a lot this season, and so we’re somewhat tired and we’re looking forward to get some rest.” Adding that he felt it was one of their best OD performances emotionally, he said, “It was very precise as well. The 6.0 is super! I thought we might get such marks at the Europeans, but now we got it here, and it’s great.”
Denkova and Staviski performed to a blues and swing routine which featured a unique dance spin and lift, followed by a fast diagonal footwork sequence with big sweeping turns and holds, and a midline step sequence featuring good twizzles and one-foot work. The two-time and reigning European silver medalists earned marks from 5.6 to 5.9 for a second place finish in the OD and overall.
“We gave all we have, emotionally and technically,” said Staviski. “Both our specialists (coaches) were satisfied with the emotional and technical aspects of the program. I think it was a very good performance, probably the best of the season.”
Grushina and Goncharov displayed nice twizzles and difficult lifts in their Swing and Blues routine, earning marks from 5.4 to 5.8 for a third place finish in the OD and overall.
“We did a very good Original Dance today,” said a satisfied Grushina.” Goncharov added, “This is the last competition and it is very important for everybody, so everyone is a little bit more nervous than in other competitions. But this group including the top ten couples motivates us always, doing a good show.”
Winkler and Lohse finished fourth in the OD and overall, followed by Belbin and Agosto, who placed fifth.
Overnight leaders Navka and Kostomarov performed a fun yet technically difficult routine to the soundtracks of Pink Panther and Austin Powers, demonstrating strong rotational lifts, difficult twizzles sequences, and a nice dance combination spin. The 2004 Grand Prix champions received scores from 5.7 to 6.0 for a first place in the Free Dance (FD) and overall.
“We pulled ourselves together and we did it,” said Navka, explaining that it wasn’t easy to skate after Winkler and Lohse. “One year ago, we didn’t expect to end up on top of the podium this year, but we had hoped for it. At the end, I just thought, ‘Thank God, we did it’.”
Denkova and Staviski skated an emotional performance to Händel’s Suite in D minor which featured unique spins, difficult lifts and good transitions. The 2003 World bronze medalists earned marks from 5.7 to 5.9 for a second place finish in the FD and overall.
“I always dreamed about getting a 6.0, and tonight it happened,” Denkova said. “We have a lot of fans in Germany, and there were many Bulgarian flags in the crowd. It was a great evening. Unfortunately, we didn’t win tonight, but we were third last year and we’re second this year, so we’re taking it step by step and hopefully we’ll win next year.”
Winkler and Lohse performed their routine to Day and Night, displaying creative lifts, fast twizzles, and nice spins to earn marks ranging from 5.6 to 6.0. for a third place finish in the FD and overall.
When the German team learned they were in the contention for a medal, Lohse fell to his knees and covered his face with his hands while Winkler hugged her coach Martin Skotnicky, and started to cry. The German champions had announced that this would be their final eligible competition.
“It’s incredible,” said Lohse. “We knew it’s possible, but we didn’t really believe in it. Basically we just wanted to skate clean and enjoy the performance and put on a great show. It was so easy to skate the Free Dance, the crowd carried us through. That really helped. We’re just thrilled.” Winkler added, “This bronze medal is like a gold medal to us.”
Grushina and Goncharov put out a moving program to Hanging Escape – a dramatic piece by Alexander Golshtain about war and peace and dedicated to the memory of the victims of the war in Iraq. The Ukrainian champions completed various interesting lifts and very well synchronized twizzles, earning marks from 5.4 to 5.9 for a fourth place finish in the FD and overall.
Performing to West Side Story, Belbin and Agosto displayed a nice rotational lift, good twizzle sequences and footwork to earn marks from 5.4 to 5.9 for a fifth place finish in the FD and overall.
“This was our best performance overall,” said Belbin, “even considering practices. There was nothing technically and artistically we could complain about.” Agosto added, “It was just one flow of motion for us. This morning in practice we didn’t feel that well and thought we couldn’t skate this well. But we focused and we just made it. We loved the audience here in Dortmund. They supported us greatly this week during the Worlds.”
Delobel and Schoenfelder finished sixth overall, followed by Chait and Sakhnovski who placed seventh.