Golden Skate

Delobel and Schoenfelder tango to the lead

The sixth and final qualifying event of the 2007-08 ISU Grand Prix Series continues with the NHK Trophy which is being held Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 in Sendai, Japan at the Sendai City Gymnasium.

Approximately 57 skaters from 18 different countries are competing for points and global prize monies totaling $180,000 in U.S. dollars. The points will go toward qualification for the Grand Prix Final in which the top six competitors from each discipline will be invited to compete for a total purse of $272,000 U.S. dollars.

The Grand Prix Final of Figure Skating will be held Dec. 13-16, 2007, in Torino, Italy.

The competition kicked off on Nov. 29 with the Compulsory Dance.

The Compulsory Dance (CD) for this event was the Argentine Tango. The dance was invented by Reginald J. Wilkie and Daphne B. Wallis and was first performed in 1934 at the Westminster Ice Rink in London, England.

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France placed first in the CD, followed by Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Russia’s Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski.

Delobel and Schoenfelder displayed strong edges in their refined tango, earning 38.96 (19.94/19.02) points.

The team was happy with their performance.

“There were quite a few people in the audience for the compulsories,” Delobel commented, “and it was nice to compete for them.”

When asked about their current lead, Delobel responded: “We’ll just stay relaxed and we’ll do what we want to do. Each part of the competition is separate and we’re trying to show our best in each part.”

Virtue and Moir produced a polished performance despite the fact that it’s the first time they performed the Argentine Tango in international competition. They earned them 34.67 (17.36/17.31) points for a second place finish.

The Canadian silver medalist felt it went very well.

“It was similar to how we were training it at home,” said Moir, “and we’re looking to build on that for our performance tomorrow.”

Virtue loves the passion of the tango and claimed that it’s one of her favorite dances.

Khokhlova and Novitski, earned 34.23. (17.42/16.81) points for their strong and expressive tango, and are currently close on the heels of the Canadians by less than half a point.

“We skated quite well I think,” said Khokhlova. “We didn’t have a long break (since Trophée Bompard two weeks ago), but we still tried to prepare as well as we could.”

The Argentine tango was also a first for the Russian silver medalists, who claimed they were not phased in the least.

“This is one of the easier and older dances,” commented Khokhlova.

Great Britain’s Sinead Kerr and John Kerr and Kristin Fraser and Igor Lukanin of Azerbaijan are currently in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

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