Starting Wednesday, Colorado Springs residents get a chance to see the national champion ice dancing team of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto compete before they head to the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, as U.S. medal favorites. Belbin, the Canadian who got her U.S. citizenship just in time for the Olympics, and Agosto are among a group of Olympians stopping by at World Arena for a pre-Games tune-up at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, an international event that begins this morning at 11:30 with compulsory dance. The Olympics run from Feb. 10-26. Men’s singles skater Matt Savoie, dance teams Belbin and Agosto and Jamie Silverstein and Ryan O’Meara, along with national champion pairs team John Baldwin and Rena Inoue and national runners-up Marcy Hinzmann and Aaron Parchem are the Olympic team members scheduled to skate in the competition that concludes with the ladies free skate Saturday morning. Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov, national ice dancing silver medalists, withdrew due to illness. Fewer than two weeks after skaters won slots on the U.S. Olympic team at nationals in St. Louis, spectators here can get a live preview of programs they’ll see in Turin. Most singles skaters, like Sasha Cohen, Kimmie Meissner, Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek are skipping Four Continents to train close to home. Michelle Kwan, who did not skate in St. Louis but was named to the team on an injury waiver, is not expected here. Recovering from a groin pull, Kwan is readying for a tryout in California in front of skating officials, likely Thursday or Friday, to determine whether she is ready to skate in the Olympics. If she is not, Emily Hughes, 2002 gold medalist Sarah’s sister, will go. U.S. Olympic Committee officials must submit a team to the International Olympic Committee by Monday. Olympic newcomer Savoie, third at nationals, said skating at Four Continents before the Games can’t hurt his chances. “I’m not going to be changing jumps or major elements,” he said. “I’m probably going to be refining what’s already in the program and highlighting difficult areas, so when I’m over there (in Turin) it makes it easier to correct mistakes when they come up.” CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0259 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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