Dance confusion at worlds

TERRY JONES, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET

LOS ANGELES -- Even the experts can't tell you the difference.

It's impossible to find someone on the property who can explain why somebody is first, somebody else is second and somebody else is third after yesterday's compulsory dance at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Canada's silver medal- winning team at last year's Worlds, the Ontario duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, ended up sitting third.

"It's subjective in the compulsories," said Canada's high performance director Michael Slipchuk. "You take your score and go on to the next one. I can't watch the whole event and tell you what's what. You look up at the scoreboard and say 'OK!' "

When the two skated and were given 39.37 in the new points system, first place at the time, Slipchuk said he was happy.

"That's huge. That's great."

But the Russian duo of Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin skated next and ended up scoring 40.77 to finish first.

They were followed by Americans Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, returning from a year out of the sport. They scored 39.65 to sit second.

"We're here to win. We're not happy that we're not winning," said Moir. "We want to be the best at everything," said Virtue, meaning all three events in the dance.

To be behind Americans who are on the comeback trail?

"It does seem a little bit odd," said Moir.

Slipchuk said the difference is not something to worry about with the original dance and free dance to come tomorrow and Friday.

"A point is nothing to make up anyway," he said. "In original dance and free dance you can define elements and identify. The compulsory dance is a lot more subjective. You just want to put yourself in the game in the compulsory."

Moir said it's an interesting position to be in here.

"There's a gap there. We have to close that gap. It's not out of reach. But we can't afford to go out there thinking we have to beat everybody by a point and a half.

"We came here to compete and be the best and we have two bigger events to come."

If Canada ends up with two teams with their final positions in the standings adding up to 13, then our nation will be awarded three dance duos for the 2010 Olympics.

The goal here is to qualify three in all four events - something Canada has never accomplished before.

The second team here is Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, also from Ontario. They sit 10th after yesterday.

Put the two standings together and that adds up to 13. But they're not thinking about that.

"It's just exciting to be at Worlds," said Poirier. "It was a great experience and we're happy with our performance.

"But we can see we are skating small and towards ourselves and that we need to skate bigger," he said.


Photos