Domnina and Shabalin maintain lead at Cup of China

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin maintained their lead over USA’s Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, tacking on a few more points to their total score after the Original Dance (OD).

“Emotionally it was a strong performance,” said Domnina. “Technically it still could have been better.”

Domnina added that they weren’t sure if they were going to be ready for the competition.

“We lost a lot of time because Maxim first had meniscus surgery in May, and then he suffered from appendicitis in September.”

Nevertheless, the Russians performed a strong Ukrainian folk dance which featured mirrored twizzles in a midline step sequence, two difficult lifts, and a very good dance spin.

The defending champions placing first in the OD with a new personal best of 62.20 points and now have a total of 100.97 points overall – putting them in the lead by just over four points.

Belbin and Agosto earned 60.81 points for their OD, a little more than a point from what they earned at Skate America despite making several changes to the program.

“I think the overall level of the performance was a step up from Skate America,” said Belbin. “It’s still early in the year, and we obviously have a lot of work to do, but the levels are high.”

The 2006 Olympic silver medalists engaged the audience with their “Appalachian Hoedown” which included two difficult lifts, two good midline step sequences (one with matching twizzles), and a difficult dance spin – all of which were graded a level four. They are currently second overall with a score of 96.70 points.

As with the Russians, Belbin and Agosto were awarded level fours on all elements except for the circular footwork sequence (level three) – an element which was awarded a level four just two weeks ago at Skate America.

“We’ll fix it and keep working on it,” said Belbin.

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy maintained third overall (90.48 points) after placing third in the OD. They also received level fours on all elements except for their circular step sequence.

The 2007 Skate America bronze medalists executed a rotational and curve lift, two midline step sequences, and a very good level three circular step sequence in their Italian folk dance, earning 56.94 points to match their personal best from 2004 Cup of Russia.

“As always, we enjoyed performing out Original Dance,” said Faiella. “We skated really well.”

Israel’s Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski earned 52.26 points for their Middle Eastern folk dance, maintaining fourth place overall with 83.07 points.

Great Britain’s Sinead Kerr and John Kerr struggled a bit through their Scottish dance and are currently fifth overall (78.45 points).

John, who wore a kilt, labored over a twizzle in the midline step sequence, while Sinead stumbled during the circular step sequence which was awarded a level one.

Ukrainians Anna Zadorozhniuk and Sergei Verbillo are currently in sixth place.

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