Golden Skate

Domnina and Shabalin take lead at Cup of China

Cup of China is the third of six events of the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series and is being held at the Harbin International Conference Exhibition and Sports Center, Nov. 8-11, in Harbin, China.

Approximately 58 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 will be held Dec. 13-16, 2007, in Torino, Italy.

Cup of China kicked off on Nov. 8 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.

Russia’s Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin are currently first after the CD with 38.77 points – just over three points ahead of USA’s Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto (35.89 points).

“We just think that we have to give even more and have to be better tomorrow,” said Domnina. “Today was the easiest part.”

Despite a fall by Domnina during the warm-up, the Russians displayed confidence in their CD.

“I can’t say what happened there,” said Domnina of the fall. “Maybe we came too close, or maybe it was just bad luck.”

Belbin and Agosto performed well, but their skating appeared to lack some of it’s natural barrage.

“I felt we skated really well,” said Agosto. “It felt good. This is a good dance for us.”

The team acknowledged that they had worked on the Argentine Tango all summer.

“It really feels like it has come a long way,” said Agosto. “We’re looking forward to the OD. I don’t like to have to make up ground after the compulsory, but it’s a situation we’ve found ourselves in before.”

Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali of Italy showed good expression in their tango, earning a new personal best of 33.54 points for third place.

The Italians were happy with their scores, citing that the Argentine Tango was a new dance they haven’t skated before in competition.

“We are really pleased with our marks, too,” said Scali. “They were much better than at Skate America.”

Two brother-and-sister teams are separated by just over a point. Israel’s Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski are fourth (30.81 points), followed by Great Britain’s Sinead Kerr and John Kerr (29.52 points).

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