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FIGURE SKATING NOTES

Belbin and Agosto just miss the gold

The Americans give an electrifying performance in ice dancing but finish behind Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin.

March 28, 2009|Diane Pucin

Dressed for the ball, Tanith Belbin wore elegant red and Ben Agosto was in white jacket, black pants and red tie Friday night at Staples Center.

The music for their free dance was Puccini's "Tosca," and after they flew across the ice drawing loud applause for synchronized turns and lifts that seemed geometrically impossible, Belbin grabbed Agosto around the neck, tears in her eyes.

They received their scores: 100.27 in the original dance, their best of the season, and a combined total of 205.08 after compulsories and original dance.

And then they waited. They waited to see if they would become the first Americans since ice dancing was introduced to the world championships in 1952 to win a gold medal.

They instead took silver. Russians Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin won the gold with a total of 206.30 after their free dance done to the music of "Spartacus."

They had held a .64 lead over Belbin and Agosto coming into the final dance and increased their final lead to 1.22 points after scoring 100.85. Belbin and Agosto hung their heads and the crowd went almost silent as the scores were posted.

Belbin and Agosto also finished second at the 2005 world championships before taking third in 2006 and 2007 and fourth in 2008.

Agosto has suffered through a back injury this season that kept the team from the U.S. nationals.

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who had started the night in fourth place, finished in the same spot, just .04 behind bronze medal-winning Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who totaled 200.40 points.

Davis and White did better on the original dance, outscoring the Canadians 100.03 to 99.98, but their three-dance total was 200.36.

The last time two American dance teams finished on a world championships podium was in 1966.

Really into it

Coaches behave very differently when they watch their skaters.

Brian Orser, who coaches Kim Yu-Na, who led the women's short program after Friday's skating, was practically doing Kim's jumps along with her.

Tom Zakrajsek, who coaches Americans Rachael Flatt, Jeremy Abbott and Brandon Mroz, paces and pumps his fists and sometimes seems to be shouting at his skaters.

Frank Carroll, 70, who coached Michelle Kwan through many of her nine national championships and five world championships and who was behind the boards when Evan Lysacek won his first world title Thursday night, is more stoic.

The stately Carroll, who almost always wears a black overcoat, isn't much of a pacer or shouter. If he takes notes, they must be filed away in his head. When the triumphant Lysacek, still pumping his fists, made his way to Carroll on Thursday after his passionate free skate, Carroll shook his hand and gave a small smile.

Perhaps Carroll will be more demonstrative if Lysacek qualifies for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. For all of the champions he has coached over the years, Carroll has never had an Olympic gold medalist.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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