Starting today, Colorado Springs residents can 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 World Arena for a pre-Games tuneup at the Four Continents Figure Skating Championships, an international event that begins at 11:30 this morning with compulsory dance. The Olympics are 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 because of illness. Less 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, such as Sasha Cohen, Kimmie Meissner, Johnny Weir and Evan Lysacek, are skipping the event 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 email@example.com FOUR CONTINENTS CHAMPIONSHIP Schedule Today — Compulsory dance, 11:30 a.m.; pairs short program, 3 p.m.; men’s short program, 7 p.m. Thursday — Original dance, 11:30 a.m.; pairs free skating (finals), 3 p.m.; ladies’ short program, 6:30 p.m. Friday — Free dance (finals), 2 p.m.; men’s free skating (finals), 6:30 p.m. Saturday — Ladies’ free skate (finals), 11:30 a.m.; exhibition of champions, 6:30 p.m. Why we care: International event showcases some skaters who will compete in the Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, that begin Feb. 10 Tickets: Call TicketsWest at 719-576-2626 or 866-464-2626 visit World Arena box office; or see www.worldarena.com Notable entries (subject to skaters’ confirmation): Ladies — Bebe Liang, Katy Taylor, Christine Zukowski; men — Matt Savoie*, Michael Weiss, Scott Smith; pairs — Rena Inoue and John Baldwin*; Marcy Hinzmann and Aaron Parchem*; Katie Orscher and Garrett Lucash; dance — Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto*; Jamie Silverstein and Ryan O’Meara* (* — 2006 U.S. Olympic team)
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