As I watched the compulsory dance event unfold last night at the Pacific Coliseum, I realized a very key something about ice dance. When all the skaters are as good as they are at the top, it can come down to a question of style and personal preference.

I used to take a lot of heat about the lack in movement i the standings over the course of an ice dance competition until I was able to articulate: You can’t get to be a much better skater between the compulsory, original and free dance segments so part of your result is going to be based on the abilities of the skaters pure and simple. Barring any significant errors (like a fall) if you aren’t very good during the compulsory dance – that isn’t going to change once you hit the OD.

That said, I want to say that Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier were standouts last night who got lost in the shuffle with a 15th place finish. Given the quality of their OD and free dance and the qualities found in the teams just ahead of them, if they skate well, I expect them to move up in the rankings.

Now for Canada’s three time national champions and two-time world medallists: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. In one word: magnificent.

In my opinion Tessa and Scott defined the Tango Romantica this evening in terms of their interpretation. They were secure, solid and demonstrated the kind of sophisticated style that resonates with the tango. In my books given the flawless timing and execution, I would have had them in first although they sit currently in second but by a margin of only 1.02.

Sitting in first are defending world champions from the Russian Federation, Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin. My only explanation would be the fact that from my vantage point, they were fast and they are tall people which gives them a commanding presence on the ice which could explain the outcome.

In ice dance, there can be a preference for a style – and it could be argued that the Canadian team’s more subtle approach could have been lost on some of the panel.
In my opinion – the competition is a long way from over. The Russians are planning on skating their “Australian Aboriginal” OD program which I have seen in practice and is a risky proposiiton to say the least. At Europeans, they took a lot of heat for the program from Australian Aboriginal elders who were outraged at the lack of respect shown their traditional dance form. The Russians went from saying that they had done their research on the internet to saying it was a tribute to all of the world’s aboriginal peoples.

Did we mention that the rules clearly state for this year’s OD that the country/folk dance theme must represent a geographical region or country? (And just the one.)

The original dance takes place tomorrow. If everyone skates to their potential, look for some movement in the standings and Canadians taking the lead hotly pursued by the two-time American champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White who currently sit in third.

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