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Top four unchanged after original dance at Euros

Defending champs Domnina, Shabalin withdraw with injury

Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitsky widened their overall lead with a great original dance score.
Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitsky widened their overall lead with a great original dance score. (Getty Images)

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By J. Barry Mittan, special to icenetwork.com
(01/22/2009) - The standings for the top four teams remained the same after the original dance at the European Championships. The rhythm for the original dance for this season was the music of the 1920s, 30s and 40s, so there were lots of flappers on the ice for this event.

The leaders after the compulsory dance, Russia's Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, scored a season-best 62.17 points to win the original dance.

They skated a blues to "Sam's Blues" by Sam Taylor and a swing dance to "Puttin' on the Ritz."

With 99.60 total points, the couple widened their overall lead going into the free dance.

"We were in a special mood today," Khokhlova said. "The audience was so supportive."

"Someone told us yesterday that 'the first place is not reserved for you,' and that was absolutely right," Novitski added. "We will have to fight for it, and there are no weak competitors here."

Italy's Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali skated a nautically-themed tap dance and slow foxtrot to music from the motion picture soundtrack of Follow the Fleet.

They also scored a season-best with 59.03 points, placing them second in the original dance and overall with 95.06 points.

"This season, we are finally ready for the podium," Scali said. "When we arrived here, we were thinking about a medal, with or without [the withdrawal] of other couples."

Great Britain's Sinead Kerr and John Kerr, who were third after the compulsory dance, kept that spot in the original dance with 57.71 points, slightly below their season best.

They danced a Lindy hop to "The Boogie Bumper" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and swing dance to "Minnie the Moocher" by Cab Calloway.

Their 92.60 total points kept them third overall going into the free dance.

"We had good energy today," John Kerr said. "The only way to get a medal is to skate our best. We hope it will be enough."

Skating to "It Don't Mean a Thing" by the Puppini sisters, France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat scored a season-best 57.56 points in the original dance.

They were fourth in the segment and fourth overall with 91.94 total points.

"We are very pleased, although there was pressure, as we skated last," Pechalat said. "We have a chance to medal."

Fellow French dancers Pernelle Carron and Mathieu Jost, who were sixth in the compulsory dance, scored 56.18 points in the original dance, also a season best for the team, to place fifth.

Their 89.39 total points put them in fifth place overall.

Carron and Jost, who were ninth at Europeans last season, skated to "Basin Street Blues" by Louis Armstrong.

Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who placed seventh at last season's European Championships, finished sixth in the original dance with 54.38 points. They skated a Lindy hop and slow foxtrot to "Bei mir bist du schoen."

Cappellini and Lanotte were seventh after the compulsory dance, and their total score of 86.96 moved them to sixth in the overall standings.

Katherine Copely and Deividas Stagniunas of Lithuania were the most improved, jumping from 15th in the compulsory dance to eighth in the original dance with 50.17 points.

They moved up to 12th overall with 77.41 total points.

The biggest drop was to Hungary's Nora Hoffmann and Max Zavozin.

Eighth in the standings after the compulsory dance, they had problems with their dance spin, and Zavozin tripped on the midline non-touching step sequence, running into Hoffman as he regained his feet.

"It wasn't our best, but I've been really sick for the past days," Zavozin said. "I've no idea what happened [on the fall]. I just caught my toepick."

The couple is competing in their first Europeans together, but Hoffmann reached as high as tenth in 2005 with former partner Attila Elek. Zavozin is a world junior ice dance champion with former partner Morgan Matthews.

They scored only 46.83 points, 12th in the original dance, and dropped to 11th overall with 77.96 points.

Russia's Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, the defending European ice dance champions, withdrew from the championships after finishing a disappointing fifth in the compulsory dance.

Shabalin has been suffering from injuries in both knees and has undergone three surgeries since May 2007.

"His knee was sore and swollen [from his fall in the compulsory dance], and we decided not to risk further injury," said coach Natalia Linichuk.