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French increase lead with 'naughty nurse'

In a surprise, Kerrs best Belbin, Agosto to take second in original dance

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder's "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" OD was a hit at the GP Final.
Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder's "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" OD was a hit at the GP Final. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/25/2008) - World champions Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder won the original dance and took a 1.65-point lead overall, but Sinead Kerr and John Kerr stole the show at Skate America on Saturday.

In an afternoon where spectators were transported back to World War II canteens and the heyday of the Hollywood movie musical, the seven-time French champions took the comedic route, mixing theatricality with technical expertise in their frisky routine to "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and "Apple Blossom Time."

"It is the end of the war, and Isabelle is an American nurse arriving in France for the liberation," Schoenfelder explained. "I am a French grandfather. There is a big party, and we start to dance, and the old man wants to be good with the girl."

Delobel's "naughty nurse" has a powerful effect; at the end of the routine, Schoenfelder does a cartwheel over her back.

The French team's final element, a twizzle sequence, dropped to Level 1 when Delobel faltered. Nevertheless, they ranked first in the segment with 58.26 points and first overall with 96.75.

"I guess I was just too much happy with this dance," Delobel explained. "It is the first time we did it in international competition. Tomorrow in the free dance, I promise I will focus."

This season, the International Skating Union granted ice dancers broad leeway selecting OD music; any rhythms and dances of the 1920s, 1930s or 1940s -- with the exception of the tango -- are permitted. This event's vocalists ranged from Marlene Dietrich to the Andrew Sisters to Barbra Streisand.

"These rhythms are so fun and upbeat," Ben Agosto said. "Any time the music starts going, and the audience wants to tap their toes -- I think right there that is going to be a good event."

In an afternoon of exuberant performances, Agosto and partner Tanith Belbin took a more restrained route with an elegant routine to music from Kander and Ebb's Stepping Out soundtrack.

The five-time U.S. champions were third in this segment, losing ground when just one of their five elements was rated Level 4 by the technical panel. They remain in second place overall, just 1.65 points off the lead.

"We've been working really hard the last several months and learning a lot of new things," Agosto said. "We feel kind of like a new team. Coming into our original today we just wanted to show what we've been doing, the direction we've been going. Obviously we have a lot of things to work on but it's a long season. This was a first step and we're very happy with it."

The Kerrs were the hit of the afternoon with their exuberant, fast-paced routine to "The Boogie Bumper" and "Minnie the Moocher."

The Scottish siblings, who are on the cusp of their first-ever Grand Prix medal, took second place in the segment with 57.74 points, gaining the highest technical marks of the event. They remain third overall with 92.11 points.

"Our original this year, the Lindy Hop, feels very much a dance for us," Sinead said. "We had a lot of help from world champion Swing dancer Robert Royston, learning to watch each other and watch the audience and interpret it rather than just thinking about the technical aspects."

World junior champions Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates had a strong showing with their charming and precise Tap number to "Let Yourself Go" from Follow the Fleet. They earned 55.01 points, climbing to fourth place overall with 86.82 points.

"There's so much energy in this genre; all of the athletes are just going for it out there," Bates said.

"I know I was dancing backstage to everyone else's routines," Samuelson added.

The third American couple, Jane Summersett and Todd Gilles, remained eighth overall with 78.01 points but placed sixth in the segment with a sprightly routine to "I'd Rather Be Blue," from the Barbra Streisand movie Funny Girl.