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Thread: Have Belbin and Agosto reached their Peak?

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    Have Belbin and Agosto reached their Peak?

    After seeing Tanith and Ben's freedance I have to say it feels like a big step down. Does anyone else think that an Olympic medal was their dream and they achieved it ahead of schedule. Remember they didn't expect to go to Torino. I think if they want to be World Champions even medalists they have to continue to grow not regress. I think changes need to be made as well. The definitely need a new choreographer and maybe coach.

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    Rooting for the divas with Kwanford Spun Silver's Avatar
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    That's a sad thought (but I can understand where it came from). I definitely find them much less interesting than others. But they seem to realize they have to do something about this season's FD. Maybe they will, as you say, change their approach and choreographer.

    A commentator said that this FD was Tanith's strong idea. Maybe she should let someone else take over?

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    I was banished to a cybercafe the other day, while some real estate agents showed my apartment, and, unfortunately, the cafe's wireless Internet was down. I decided to watch skating downloads on my laptop, but since it was pretty quiet, I had the sound on mute while watching a number of CoC performances.

    Their CoC version to me was appalling for a team in the top 10, let alone World and Olympic medallists: the choreography was so open, and except for formal footwork sequences, they skated so far apart. I also watched Carron/Jost's program, and even they were closer, with constantly changing holds. There is no way that B/A's program deserved higher choreography scores than C/J's, who would be lucky to break into the top 15 at Worlds, had France three dance spots. I know that B/A changed their LP a bit before CoR, but I haven't been able to download it yet, but IMO, that program needs a complete remodel. As in all of the drywall stripped off, and down to the wiring and insulation.

    B/A may have reached their peak competition-wise, but I don't think they've skated to even 85% of their potential. They may have gone as far as they could go with Shpilband/Zoueva, though.

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    hockeyfan228 I agree with your assessment of B&A's CoC performance; it seemed to have little content, no speed and appeared very unpolished. I watched Cup of Russia on ABC this afternoon and the dance looked better (more closed holds, speed, polish, costumes etc.) but I still feel as if this dance is so beneath what Tanith and Ben are capable of.

    At CoC and Cup of Russia Susie Wynne complained that the theme and music B&A chose for this years FD is too old fashioned, that icedance had moved past the more traditional types of programs.

    I disagree; the problem does not lie with the theme team B&A chose rather it lies with the choreography. When I think of good Fred and Ginger styled dances the first that comes to mind is T&D's "Let's Face the Music and Dance", M&L's 1994FD (IMO their best FD) and the dance(s) that B&S did back during the 1980's.

    As to Eeyora's original question on whether B&A had reached their peak?

    No, I don't think that B&A have shown everything they are capable of but Eeyora you made an interesting point about B&A having already reached their goal. I think that might be partially true but during Evening With Champions B&A were interviewed and they both said that they intend to compete in Vancouver and hopefully win gold this time around.

    Keep in mind that B&A and Shpilband have admitted that they got a late start this season due to B&A touring until August and then both Tanith and Ben have been taking advantage of some of the opportunities that were presented to them after winning the silver in Torino. IMHO I think there just wasn't time to be fully prepared to compete this season and I wonder if perhaps B&A should have skipped the GP series this year (I guess that might be hard if they weren't sick or injured) and competed at Nationals, 4CC's and Worlds much the way DenStav did last season (except of course for DenStav substituting Europeans for 4CC.)

    Another reason I don't think that B&A have peaked is that their OD is as beautiful as their FD is undertrained and unfinished looking. Watching B&A skate the OD and FD is like watching two different couples compete. The OD (again IMHO) is one of the best OD's this season; B&A even look more sophisticated than they have in the past. Even Tanith's posture comes across better in the Tango OD. The choreography is wonderfully subtle and the performance has tension and flair.

    I do think that it is possible that B&A might not be as concerned about medals this year; in the current issue of Skating magazine they talk about wanting to just skate for themselves and the entertainment aspect of the dance rather than focusing on medals. I believe this season is more about relaxing and slowly transitioning themselves back into competitive mode.

    That said icedance has traditionally been a different animal than the other three disciplines and it might not be a good idea to just relax for one year as with dance if you lose your place it might not be as easy to regain it than is in the singles and pairs events.

    So far I don't think that B&A are in need of another coach (though that may change with D&W and V&M coming on so strong) but I do wish Igor would enlist the aid of an outside choreographer. Someone who could bring something different to the table so to speak.

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    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    For me, they got the character of the music at COR. The music is Hollywood circa 1930s/early 40s. The years of glamour. Tanith looked her best as a hollywood screen legend. Ben was ok. I think that jacket was a wee bit too big on him.
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    The routine is Americana and I don't think that sells in international competition.

    Maybe it is time to leave Shpilband who, imo, was also learning 'the American way'.

    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dyan View Post

    I do think that it is possible that B&A might not be as concerned about medals this year; in the current issue of Skating magazine they talk about wanting to just skate for themselves and the entertainment aspect of the dance rather than focusing on medals. I believe this season is more about relaxing and slowly transitioning themselves back into competitive mode.
    I completely agree. I think they haven't even begun to tap into what they are capable of. Given their ages, they could skate for years competitively if injuries don't get in the way. I expect there will be a few clinkers along the way. All dance teams have them at some point.

    I have read that Ben is considered by many (even Russians) to be one of the most talented ice dancers ever. It's his potential that is being stifled at the moment. Tanith is still developing IMHO. But regardless, I'm not writing them off based on one season's disappointing FD.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    For me, they got the character of the music at COR. The music is Hollywood circa 1930s/early 40s. The years of glamour. Tanith looked her best as a hollywood screen legend. Ben was ok. I think that jacket was a wee bit too big on him.
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    Joe
    The jacket looked huge!!!! I like this team a lot but, I can't help noticing how Tanith doesn't point her toes and her knees don't have that pretty flex of some of the other top women dancers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Skate Sandee View Post

    I have read that Ben is considered by many (even Russians) to be one of the most talented ice dancers ever. It's his potential that is being stifled at the moment. Tanith is still developing IMHO. But regardless, I'm not writing them off based on one season's disappointing FD.
    That's a great point. I had always thought that he was bringing her along, and that both of them were growing together, but I think he may be stagnating at this point.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dyan View Post

    At CoC and Cup of Russia Susie Wynne complained that the theme and music B&A chose for this years FD is too old fashioned, that icedance had moved past the more traditional types of programs.

    I disagree; the problem does not lie with the theme team B&A chose rather it lies with the choreography. When I think of good Fred and Ginger styled dances the first that comes to mind is T&D's "Let's Face the Music and Dance", M&L's 1994FD (IMO their best FD) and the dance(s) that B&S did back during the 1980's.
    I was wondering about her comment as I didn't quite understand it myself. I rather like their theme and I don't see that the problem lies in the music at all whatsoever. Susie was saying the same thing at CoC, not even talking specifically about the choreography but rather that the music and theme was "below" that of today's standards for ice dancing. First of all, I don't understand what should be considered the standards for someone's music of choice. Why was she saying that it was "been there done that"? I think the theme is wonderful and I love the music. What is so "wrong" with dancing to it? I think that Susie should have put more emphasis on the fact that their choreography was all wrong rather then going on and on about how Tanith and Ben can't pull off a program to that music etc etc. Fix the choreography and they're good to go imo, with or without that music/theme.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    The routine is Americana and I don't think that sells in international competition.
    I agree, but the music is lively and energetic so I think they will be able to work it out. A lot of teams choose music that reflects the history of their own country. If they didn't have that option then what would we be left with? The same music over and over and over again and nothing out of the ordinary for fear that it wouldn't "sell". I for one am sick of hearing the same music and seeing the same moves. Yes it's an idea that has been done before, but I would hardly call it "same old, same old". Thats exactly what I like about it.

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joesitz View Post
    Maybe it is time to leave Shpilband who, imo, was also learning 'the American way'.
    I think they are fine with Shpilband as a coach, but I think they should get another choreographer other than Zueva. This way they could experiment with new choreography while remaining with a coach they know and trust.

    I don't think B&A have peaked. I don't think their hearts are really in competition this season, but I think it will all change. I for one would like them to try out more serious and more emotional chorepgraphy; I believe they can do it, but it will mean leaving their comfort zone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by *~RussianBleux~* View Post
    I agree, but the music is lively and energetic so I think they will be able to work it out.
    Actually, I think part of the problem is the version of music they are using isn't lively and energetic. I wish they could find a brassier version of the same music. The version they are using is too much like the kind you hear in the background while dining in a formal restaurant. Very non-descript. They need a punchier version.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    I think they are fine with Shpilband as a coach, but I think they should get another choreographer other than Zueva. This way they could experiment with new choreography while remaining with a coach they know and trust.

    I don't think B&A have peaked. I don't think their hearts are really in competition this season, but I think it will all change. I for one would like them to try out more serious and more emotional chorepgraphy; I believe they can do it, but it will mean leaving their comfort zone.
    I have to agree with this.

    I also remember back when they first got together, they were a beautiful team then. (I was there at DSC when they were going through a "trial" partnership I believe...Ben was sooo much better than Tanith at the time too). Both of them have come such a lonnng way from those early sessions, but I feel they have SO much more potential. They need to try something new, as far as a FD. (IMO) They seem to stick with the same type of music/storyline. Either latin or "americana". Which is fine...but they are capable of SO much more.

    I sometimes wonder if they suffer just a little bit because Igor has SO many teams now. Years ago he was very selective in who he would take on as students, it doesn't seem like he's that way anymore. (perhaps I'm wrong though??) I'm not involved with skating other than a spectator anymore, so who knows.

    Just my 2 cents.

  14. #14
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    I think touring all summer really has set them back for the whole season. I get the feeling they had to slop a program together and this Free Dance is what they came up with. I remember in years past, skaters like Todd Eldredge and Nicole Bobek after touring all summer had pretty mediocre seasons. I think this is the case with B/A.

    I don't think they've peaked, but I think outside help is needed. They need knew and more innovative lifts and a program that really challenges them. I don't think their program this year offers enough of a challenge. Still, their talent is tremendous and if they skate the way they are capable eventually they will be World Champions if skating politics does not prevent it.

  15. #15
    Custom Title heyang's Avatar
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    I doubt that they've hit their peak. I do think the late start in their program development hurt them.

    Their performance in Russia was so much better than in China. The costumes alone were a big improvement.

    I think Susie meant that they had to do something big with their choreography. All the ballroom stuff has been done for years and they need to do something to make the program more memorable.

    I'd really like them to get a number choreographed by Christopher Dean. T&D truly epitomize Ice Dance for me.

    I know it's a post Olympic year, but ice dance has become SUPER competitive and no team can afford to rest on their laurels.

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