- SKATING - Fusar-Poli and Margaglio narrowly win original dance

Thursday, January 25
Fusar-Poli and Margaglio narrowly win original dance

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - - Italy's Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio narrowly beat French world champions Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat in the original dance at the European championships on Thursday.

The Italians' victory gave them the lead in the ice dance competition going into the decisive free skating.
Maurizio Margaglio
Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio stunned their French rivals by leading after the original dance at the 2001 European Championships.

Fusar Poli and Margaglio also had the advantage at last year's world championships in France but faltered as Anissina and Peizerat, backed by a fanatical home crowd, claimed the title.

The world and European silver medallists believe that by skating on neutral ice this time they can hold and end the French pair's reign as champions.

"We did our best, the other skaters will have to do their jobs," said Margaglio. "It will be very hard to beat us," he added.

Equal first after the compulsory dance, Fusar Poli and Margaglio's toe-tapping original dance to "Puttin' on the Ritz," has put the pressure on the defending champions.

In a sport where presentation counts as much as footwork, there were more theatrics following the skate then during it, Fusar Poli continuing to sell the routine after the music, gesturing, slapping and then embracing her partner.

The performance was rewarded with high presentation marks, including 5.9s from five of the nine judges and the competition's only perfect 6.0 from another.

"This is our first 6.0 in the original dance at the international level," said Margaglio.

"In Italy at the national championships last week we got 24 perfect 6.0s."

"But to do it at the European championships was very emotional for us," he added.

The French pair, whose original skate has come under attack in some quarters for not fulfilling the foxtrot and quickstep requirements, could not match the Italians' energy or effort.

Anissina and Peizerat both appeared stunned when the marks of mostly 5.7s and 5.8s flashed onto the screen. Three judges rated them no better than third.

After Russian skaters failed last year to win a dance medal for the first time since 1968, the country is poised to make a return to the podium with Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh.

They held on to third place ahead of world and European bronze medallists Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas of Lithuania.


Thursday's results from the European Championships

Italian, French tie in European ice dance

Maurizio Margaglio Q & A

Q & A with Barbara Fusar-Poli