Steppin' on toes

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:38 AM ET

The margin of victory could be slim.

Less than one point separates No. 1 through No. 3 in ice dancing after yesterday's compulsory segment at the world figure skating championships in the Saddledome.

At 38.31, Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon are sandwiched between leaders Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria (38.46) and Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto (37.59).

Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder of France sit fourth, 0.29 behind the Americans.

The two-time Canadian champs were not surprised by the results of the Ravensburger waltz.

"It was even closer at Olympics," said Lauzon. "We were within the same point up to sixth or seventh place."

The Canadians will skate 24th of the 30 couples during tomorrow's original dance, a Latin combination, which starts at 10:30 a.m. The Bulgarians are 27th and the Americans skate 28th.

Dubreuil said the Saddledome atmosphere is like a nice homecoming for the Montreal couple that trains in Lyon, France, alongside Delobel and Schoenfelder, who skate 26th in the original dance.

"We're pretty happy about how we're skating," she said. "And on Canadian ice, it's amazing. You go out on the ice with all these people wearing Canadian shirts, it's great."

At last month's Turin Games, Dubreuil and Lauzon were fourth after the compulsory but fell to sixth after a disastrous turn in the original dance, when Dubreuil lost her grip on a rotational lift and crashed to the ice.

Training leading up to worlds was difficult but she said yesterday she felt fine on the ice.

"Does the crowd give the little magic I need? Maybe," Dubreuil said, chuckling. "It's about keeping the swelling down and doing certain things to keep from going below 80 percent."

Lauzon said she hasn't skipped a beat.

"Even with the injury, her skating for the past week has been at 100 percent," he said.

"We've been skating really good, a perfect program. She has to deal with the pain but it's not affecting her skating right now."

Fellow Canadians Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe were eighth after the compulsory, an improvement over 12th at the Olympics.

"To be ahead of two teams that were ahead of us after the compulsory in the Olympics is a good start," said Lowe.

Ice dancing medals are up for grabs at the worlds because of the absence of Olympic gold medallists Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia and bronze medallists Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov.


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