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Domnina, Shabalin take dance gold at Europeans

Faiella, Scali win free dance

Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin snagged ice dancing gold at the 2010 European Figure Skating Championships.
Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin snagged ice dancing gold at the 2010 European Figure Skating Championships. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2010) - Italy's national champions, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali, won the free dance at the European Championships with a season-best 96.71 points skating to "Gli Emigranti" by Nino Rota. Even though they won both the original and the free dance, the couple finished with the silver medal for the second year in a row with a total of 195.86 points.

"Today was really, really hard to skate," Scali said. "We knew that it was about a medal. Today we were first in the free dance, so it couldn't be better."

Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, the 2009 world ice dance silver medalists, won the gold medal with a score of 199.25 points on the strength of a 5.31-point margin over the Italians in the compulsory dance.

The Russian dancers, who won the European Championships two years ago but pulled out last season due to injury, placed second in the free dance with 94.98 points.

"We had some big problems with the elements," Domnina said. "We got some low levels and we need to look at them. But we have only ourselves to blame."

The dancers were one of three top couples using music from the motion picture soundtrack Requiem for a Dream, which was the middle piece in their program. They started and ended with selections from the motion picture soundtrack The Double Life of Veronique by Zbigniew Preisner.

Russia's Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, the 2009 European ice dancing champions, could not repeat their success, although they won their third straight medal at the European Championships, a bronze this time.

Skating to Stravinsky's "Firebird" in a new free dance which featured their usual unique lifts as well as bird-like movements from Khokhlova, the dancers had a season best score of 93.21 points in the free dance to place third in the free dance. They had 189.67 points overall.

"It was a successful premiere of our dance," Khokhlova said. "We did everything we can do at this point."

"Obviously compared to last year when we won the title, today wasn't as successful," Novitski said. "But we had a new free dance and a break in training (due to her illness and his knee injury), so it was good to come back to the podium before the Olympics."

Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat earned 92.07 points and took fourth place in the free dance using "Kika" by Ezekiel and music from the motion picture soundtrack Requiem for a Dream by Clint Mansell. The French couple, who were in fourth place after the original dance, finished fourth overall, the same as last year, with 188.51 points.

"I'm not so upset about not medaling anymore," Pechalat said. "There are some things we cannot control."

Siblings Sinead Kerr and John Kerr of Great Britain, last year's bronze medalists, placed fifth in the free dance with a season best 90.24 points skating to "Krwlng" by Linkin Park. They placed fifth overall with a 184.05 total.

"It's pretty disappointing after all these years starting in the last group to skate in the second to last group here," Sinead Kerr said. "You have to be in the top four after the original dance, which is pretty tough."

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, the third of the couples to use music from Requiem for a Dream, chose "Addiction" for their dance. The Italians, who were in seventh place after the original dance, earned a season best 87.34 points in the free dance and 176.10 points overall to finish sixth in the free and overall after placing only ninth in the original dance.

"We are really happy with the performance tonight because yesterday we felt like we left some points on the table," Cappellini said. "Today we wanted to give out everything. There was nothing more to give."

Israel's Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski used music from the motion picture soundtrack of Schindler's List, a favorite of Israeli dance teams, to place ninth in the free dance with 84.36 points and seventh overall with a score of 174.91.

Ukraine's Anna Zadorozhniuk and Sergei Verbillo, who were in eighth place after the original dance, finished in the same position in the free dance with 84.38 points. The dancers, who skated to "Vivre Pour Le Meilleur", had a total score of 171.28, and finished eighth overall.

Russia'a Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev scored 84.90 points, seventh in the free dance, and placed ninth overall, just .02 behind the Ukrainians.

The skaters in general expressed dislike for new rules, which went into effect at Europeans, which included cutting the number of dancers in the free dance from 24 to 20, omitting a home country competitor unless they made the top 20, and splitting off the bottom four dancers in a group by themselves followed by a 45-minute break before the final three groups.

During the break, circus acts performed on the ice including fire jugglers, bungee artists, three women performing aerial ballet on silks, and ladies skating with fireworks and torches. The performance filled the arena with smoke before the final three groups competed.

"If you want to see a circus, go to one," John Kerr said, "but this is supposed to be a figure skating competition. It's ridiculous that they cut the last group off from the rest of the competition. All the skaters and coaches, even the judges hate it."