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Belbin, Agosto withdraw from GP Final

Agosto suffering from back injury

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are confident about their chances at worlds.
Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are confident about their chances at worlds. (Getty Images)

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(12/13/2008) - Five-time U.S. ice dancing champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto have withdrawn from the 2008 ISU Grand Prix Final in Goyang City, Republic Korea, citing injury.

Agosto is suffering from pain in his back, which has caused numbness in his right leg. "My back started hurting in practice, and it just kept getting progressively worse each time I tried to do something," Agosto said.

Agosto spent most of the day working with the team doctor on the injury. "I've been at the rink since 2:30 p.m. trying to get it in condition," Agosto said. "I'm going to have to go back and let them take a look and it and figure out what's wrong."

Team USA physician Dr. Robert Kruse believes the team's withdrawal from the event was a necessary decision. "He's been having trouble with numbness, and, to be safe, we feel that the correct and safe decision is to withdraw," Kruse said.

The team sat in fourth place going into today's free skate, a mere .56 points behind Italy's Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali.

"I don't think that this is a big break in our momentum," Belbin said. "Injuries happen to all skaters; it's just a natural occurrence in the sport. I'd much rather that he [Agosto] go home and get better, than run the risk of hurting himself or me."

This was the team's fourth appearance in a Grand Prix Final. They won bronze in 2003 and silver in 2004 and 2007. Their next scheduled competition will be the 2009 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, Jan. 18-25, in Cleveland, Ohio.

The second U.S. entry in ice dancing for the Grand Prix Final, Meryl Davis and Charlie White, took home bronze.