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Chock, Zuerlein one dance away from gold

Hubbells second; Shibutanis fourth

Reigning U.S. junior dance champions Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein are one skate away from the junior world title.
Reigning U.S. junior dance champions Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein are one skate away from the junior world title. (Michelle Harvath)

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By Klaus-Reinhold Kany, special to icenetwork.com
(02/26/2009) - Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein moved a step closer to the dance title at the 2009 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, after a rousing first-place original dance.

Their interpretation of the Charleston helped the young duo extend their lead to almost six points over the field. The pupils of Igor Shpilband earned a Level 4 on three elements, and their two step sequences were given Level 3s.

"Our program is fun to dance and interpret. I have always loved the Charleston -- the outfits they had back then," commented Chock. "The feeling of this music is happy and free. We are basically happy with our performance. It was solid for the most part. We connected well with each other."

Zuerlein added: "This was one of our top performances of the season. The two points ahead gave us some more confidence."

Siblings Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell skated a blues number to "Minnie the Moocher" by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, scoring 53.44 and placing them third in the OD and second overall.

"We are really happy to skate our best," said Madison Hubbell. "It is not a problem for us to play the role of a gangster and his lady for the night. We can fit the character without problems, even if we are brother and sister. We are approaching it in a professional manner. At the beginning of the season, our coaches did endless research work to find the best music for us. I have seen several films and a lot on YouTube to get a feeling for music of this time."

The Russian couple of Ekaterina Riazanova and Jonathan Guerreiro moved up from seventh to third place, after showing a strong and speedy Foxtrot and Swing performance.

"Today we did not think about placement, all we have to do is the show," said Guerreiro. "If you want to know why we were only seventh in the compulsory dance, you have to ask the judges."

Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani of Canton, Mich., moved from fifth to fourth place. So, the three U.S. dance couples are in first, second and fourth place, a fact which underlines the worldwide dominance of U.S. Figure Skating in ice dancing.