Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria were the gold medal winners in the ice dance event. Canada’s Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon won silver, while Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski of Israel seized the bronze. All three teams competed at Skate Canada last year, placing second, third, and fourth respectively.
Compulsory Dance (CD)
The Compulsory Dance for Skate Canada was the Rhumba. The dance was invented by Walter Gregory and was first performed in 1938 at the Westminster Ice Rink in London.
Denkova and Staviski appeared comfortable and fluid in their CD, taking the lead with a score of 41.05.
“I think our expression could have been better,” offered Staviski. “We could have been more musical maybe. He added that they prefer the technically more demanding dances such as the Golden Waltz. “The more steps the dance has, the
better it is for us. The Rhumba and the Quickstep don’t have so many steps.”
France’s Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder placed second with a score of 39.37, while Dubreuil and Lauzon finished close behind with 39.35 points.
“It is very good to train with another couple who is at the same level,” Delobel said. “The competition is the competition, but we are friends.” Dubreuil agreed: “We encourage each other. The fact that we are so close means that we must have a strong technical coach.”
Dubreuil also joked that this event was revenge for last year’s Trophée Lalique when they were ahead of Delobel and Schoenfelder by .02 points in the compulsory dance.
Chait and Sakhnovski scored 38.58 points for fourth place, while Canadians Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe finished in fifth.
Original Dance (OD)
The event continued with the OD in which the dance for the 2004-2005 season is the “Rhythm Combination”. Couples can choose any two or three of the following rhythms: Slow Foxtrot, Quickstep, and/or Charleston.
Denkova and Staviski won the OD and remained in first place with a total of 132.02 points, while Dubreuil and Lauzon (99.80) danced ahead of Delobel and Shoenfelder (99.78), moving up one spot by a mere .02 points.
Overnight leaders Denkova and Staviski began their OD with a Charleston rhythm in which Denkova had problems with the first twizzle during the midline step sequence. The two-time and reigning European silver medalists got it back and moved to a Slow Foxtrot in which they displayed a difficult curve-rotational combination lift, followed by a good combination spin, a good diagonal step sequence, and a very good and fast rotational lift. The team earned a score of 61.27 for first place in the OD, maintaining the lead overall.
“We’re happy with our performance,” said Denkova. “I did a little mistake on the straight line. Fortunately, it wasn’t a big mistake.” The 29-year-old continued: “It’s the first competition this season and we’re happy with the way the audience responded. I think we can improve throughout the season. We thought it would be a lot of fun to skate the Charleston, so we chose it.”
Dubreuil and Lauzon, who were last to skate, performed their OD to Singin’ in the Rain by Arthur Freed and utilizing all three rhythms. The two-time and reigning Four Continents silver medalists opened with a good rotational lift, followed by a midline step sequence, and a difficult curve-rotational combination lift. They had a slight stumble at the end of their diagonal step sequence, but overcame the mistake quickly, and ended their dance with a nice combination spin.The team from Montreal received a standing ovation along with a score of 60.45 for a second place finish in the OD. They moved up one spot to second overall with a total score of 99.80.
The Canadians were thrilled with the way the crowd responded to Singin’ in the Rain. “Singin’ in the Rain is something we wanted to do for a long time,” said Dubreuil. “With the rhythms the ISU picked, it was the perfect year to perform this dance.” The team acknowledged the mistake in the footwork. Dubreuil commented: “We try to take a very high risk program with good elements. We’ll work on it until it’s perfect.”
Delobel and Schoenfelder produced a good diagonal and midline step sequence, along with good lifts which displayed difficult positions, and a nice combination spin in their dance to Yes Sir, That’s My Baby and C’est Si Bon. The French champions earned 60.41 to place third in the OD, and close on the heels of the Canadians with a score of 99.78 points.
“We did a little mistake in the spin,” said Delobel (which the judges didn’t seem to notice), “but we skated well for the first time, and we hope to be better and better.”
Chait and Sakhnovski, who won silver at Skate America last week, displayed complex side-by-side footwork in their Quickstep to Sing Sing Sing. The Israeli champions also produced a good combination spin, a diagonal step sequence, and two good lifts to earn 60.21, placing fourth in the OD. With a total score of 98.79, they were fourth overall with less than a point behind the French team.
Wing and Lowe placed fifth in the OD with 50.77 points and maintained fifth overall with 86.12 points.
Free Dance (FD)
The overnight leaders performed to Albert Schweitzer’s Bach to Africa, an interesting mingling of Gabonese traditional songs and Bach’s classical works, opening with a difficult curve-rotational lift. Their innovative and primal routine also included a level four curve lift, two difficult level four twizzle sequences, a good circular step sequence and combination spin, and a level four serpentine and straightline lift. The 2004 World silver medalists earned 106.61 points to place first in the FD, as well as first overall with a total score of 208.93.
The Bulgarians were happy. “It’s our first at Skate Canada after seven or six times that we participated,” Staviski said. “We tried to make all our elements of the highest level. They weren’t, but we’ll work on it.”
Performing to the neo-shamanic music of Winter Vision by Scott Fitzgerald and Taboo by Peter Gabriel, Dubreuil and Lauzon opened with one of their two difficult twizzle sequences, followed by a difficult straightline-rotational combination lift, and a good dance spin. Their routine also included a level four rotational lift, a good circular and diagonal step sequence, three more difficult lifts, and a good combination spin. The 2000 Canadian champions earned 103.89 points for their FD, and with a total event score of 203.69, claimed the silver.
“Our main goal today was to succeed each element, and we did,” said Dubreuil. “So it was a good confidence boost for the rest of the season. The crowd really seemed to get into it, and it was a great feeling to skate well in Halifax.”
Chait and Sakhnovski’s dramatic routine to Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, featured six good lifts (one in combination), as well as a good circular and diagonal step sequence. The team also produced two difficult twizzle sequences and nice spins, earning 102.18 points for a third place finish in the FD. It was enough to move them up from fourth to third overall to win the bronze.
“I was ecstatic,” Chait said. “We’re very happy with the medal and happy that we now skated two competitions clean. We’ll make some changes for the Cup of China and hope to have a medal there as well. We changed two or three elements in the Free and the OD, and we still have something to change, so there is still work to be done. Maybe we’ll add more technical difficulty to the circular and to the diagonal [footwork].”
Delobel and Shoenfelder’s routine featured good four level four lifts (one in combination), as well as good footwork and twizzles. The team had a problem on the exit of a serpentine lift, but otherwise put out a good performance to music from the Frida soundtrack. They finished fourth in the FD with 99.41 points, and placed fourth overall with a total score of 199.19.
Skate Canada was a scoring event for all the ice dance teams with the exception of Delobel and Schoenfelder. They will compete for points next week at NHK Trophy, along with Denkova and Staviski who earned 12 points at this event.
Dubreuil and Lauzon earned 9 points at this event and will compete next at Cup of China, along with Chait and Sakhnovski who picked up 7 points.