Alexa

French couple keeps lead in ice dancing at European championships

French couple keeps lead in ice dancing at European championships

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder kept their lead Thursday in ice dancing at the European figure skating championships with a solid original dance program.
The French couple scored 60.71 points for their Tango, giving them a total of 100.28. Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia remained in second with 98.77 points, while Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria were next with 95.12.
With Delobel in a sleek black dress with silver trim and Schoenfelder in a gray pinstripe suit, the couple hit their steps and spins to skate a clean program to "Tango Volver."
"We didn't make any mistakes and we are very satisfied with our second program," Delobel said.
If they hang onto their current top spot after Friday's free skate, the duo will win their first European title. The French national champions took bronze at the 2005 European championships, but missed out on the podium last year.
"Before coming here, we weren't certain if it would work out for us. We worked hard, but one doesn't always succeed," Schoenfelder said. "We are very happy because we've had a good competition from the start and we hope it continues.
Domnina and Staviski, the reigning world champions, have struggled.
Staviski says the couple found out the rink at the Torwar Arena is two meters smaller than an Olympic-sized rink only after arriving at the championships.
During the original dance, Domnina banged her skate against the wall at the end of the duo's step sequence.
"The size of the rink caused problems for us because out patterns in the original dance are big and we have trouble in the corners," Staviski said. "We didn't have time to fix it. Maybe it wasn't one of our best dances."
But their score was hurt most by the judges marking their spin as a level one instead of the duo's planned level four.
"We have done the same spin in the free dance and it was level four. It was supposed to be a normal spin with seven revolutions and not a combination spin," Staviski said. "It cost us a lot of points."
In the men's competition, little-known Tomas Verner of the Czech Republic leads going into Thursday's free skate as he looks to upset Brian Joubert of France for the men's title.
The 20-year-old Czech, who finished 10th at last year's competition, is looking to stop Joubert from reclaiming the title he won in 2004.