Virtue, Moir open 2.28-point lead in Paris
Kerr and Kerr set second; Samuelson, Bates fourth
|Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are the favorites to take gold at this season's first Grand Prix event. (Getty Images)|
By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(10/16/2009) - "Very sparkling and beautiful." That was coach Marina Zoueva's description of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir's effervescent Golden Waltz, and the judges agreed. The two-time Canadian world medalists lead the pack with 38.41 points, some 2.28 ahead of Britons Sinead Kerr and John Kerr. French champions Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat are third with 35.53 points. The Golden Waltz, created by 1992 Olympic champions Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko and their coach, Natalia Dubova, is widely considered the most challenging compulsory. Fittingly, Ponomarenko is here in Paris serving on the technical panel. "This is the most difficult dance," said Zoueva, who coaches Virtue and Moir with Igor Shpilband in Canton, Mich. "You're constantly changing positions with your partner. You have to watch your edges. When you do it well it looks like the world's easiest dance, but there are lots of little, special things in it between the quick and the long edges and keeping the right look." Virtue and Moir are pleased the Golden Waltz and another difficult dance, the Tango Romantica, were drawn for this Olympic season. "They're definitely two of the harder compulsories, and we think that works in our favor," Moir said. Training hard paid off for Kerr and Kerr, who perform extra-long versions of the already lengthy compulsory in practice every day. "Our coach, Evgeni Platov, has us practicing three patterns of the Golden Waltz, instead of just two," said John Kerr. U.S. silver medalists Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates sit fourth with 31.11 points, some 7.30 out of the lead. Bates likens training the intricate waltz to preparing an additional Original Dance. "It's quite the compulsory," he said. "It's definitely a challenge. It's cool Sergei Ponomarenko is on the technical panel; it's kind of like we're doing this dance in his honor." Two-time U.S. bronze medalists Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre placed sixth with 29.19 points, while Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell, fourth at the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, finished seventh with 27.17. It's a busy day for the dancers, who re-take the ice in a few hours for their ODs.