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FIGURE SKATING

U.S. ice dancers showing depth

Along with Belbin-Agosto, two other teams are doing well.

March 27, 2009|Diane Pucin

It's not where the U.S. figure skating strength usually lies, in the ice dancing area, but that has changed.

Besides the veteran team of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the U.S. has two other promising dance couples.

Meryl Davis, 22, of West Bloomfield, Mich., and Charlie White, 21, of Royal Oak, Mich., are in fourth place overall after two of the three rounds of ice dancing competition. The former world junior bronze medalists won senior nationals this year, most likely because Belbin and Agosto sat out while Agosto recovered from a back injury. But their cheery Charleston dance Thursday was a crowd pleaser.

"We made some errors," White said of Thursday's performance, "but it is things that would not be visible to anyone watching.

"It's great that our technical skills were credited by the judges. We value that."

The third American team, 2008 world junior champions Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, are 12th in their first senior world championships. Samuelson, 18, from Southfield, Mich., and Bates, 20, from Ann Arbor, Mich., received a standing ovation after their swing dance. "The crowd's response was absolutely incredible," Bates said. "That's our first standing ovation and that's worth more than any score we could possibly get."

Looking bad

It wasn't quite the great Italian glare of the 2006 Turin Olympics, but Federica Faiella's expression as she looked at partner Massimo Scali after their original dance was not a happy one.

Scali fell during the couple's routine, consigning the European silver medalists to 10th in that segment of the competition. They had been seventh after the compulsory dance but the mistake left them in 10th place entering today's free dance.

The look was reminiscent of the look of disgust Barbara Fusar-Poli of Italy directed at Maurizio Margaglio at the Turin Games after he dropped her a few seconds before the end of their original dance. It wasn't quite as bad, but their disappointment was the same.

"I was doing a crossover and I think my one boot hit the other boot and I lost my balance," Scali said. "I tried to catch it and I thought I did, but then I completely lost it. It's a shame.

"I think we couldn't have hoped for much more than seventh place here anyway, but still. It was a little sad for us to come here after the medal at Europeans and knowing that we had no chance of a medal here."

Numbers game

Attendance for Thursday's afternoon session was 6,312. The crowds have been lively and reasonably large, with the lower bowl well filled for the evening events.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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