Originally created 01/24/04

Americans win ice dance gold



HAMILTON, Ontario -- There hasn't been any Americans on a world championship ice dance podium for 19 years, but Canadian-born Tanith Belbin and partner Benjamin Agosto appear entirely capable of ending the drought.

Using the "West Side Story" free dance that won them their first U.S. senior title earlier this month, Belbin and Agosto took the gold medal Friday in the Four Continents competition.

"We're very excited to have another title," Belbin said. "It's great to start building those up.

"It wasn't our strongest performance. We certainly know what we need to work on. We're looking forward to going home and working on the speed and the performance and everything we need for worlds."

Belbin and Agosto will attempt in Dortmund, Germany, in March to become the first U.S. entry to win world championship ice dance medals since Judy Blomberg and Michael Seibert took bronze in 1985 in Tokyo.

Canadian champions Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, performing what they describe as a punky Spanish dance, claimed silver Friday.

Canadians Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe got the bronze medal.