Chait, Sakhnovsky lead Israelis at World Championships
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(photo credit: Associated Press)
After the Winter Olympics in Turin, Israel's top skaters are preparing for the World Championships in Canada.
Just one month after the Turin Winter Olympics, the figure skating world is gathering once again this week for the World Championships at the Saddledome in Calgary, Canada. The competition began on Monday night and will continue through Sunday, when a gala performance will bring the proceedings to a close. Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovsky, the only Israelis to medal in a senior winter sport world championship, are competing at the event for the 11th straight year. The duo won the ice dancing bronze in 2002. Last year they finished sixth. Fellow ice dancers Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky, siblings who have just graduated from junior ranks, will be taking part in their first senior worlds, while Roman Serov is competing in the mens for just the second time in his career. Serov was the first member of the delegation on the ice Monday, finishing in a tie for seventh of 20 in qualifying Group A. Chait and Sakhnovsky had a rough start in Turin, as Chait fell in the opening compulsory dance, leaving them in 13th place. They gamely fought back in their subsequent original and free dances to finish eighth overall and are looking forward to competing in these championships after making a decision to continue skating for at least another season. The pair recently took part in the Ilia Averbukh extravaganza in Russia to stay in shape for the worlds. In a phone interview from Calgary, Chait told The Jerusalem Post: "We feel just fine. We're getting ready for the competition and are really excited about being here. "We really enjoyed the events in St. Petersburg and Moscow. There were standing room only sold out crowds over there for all the performances, and everything was wonderful." As for their chances this week, she said, "We just have to skate well, and skate a good performance. The rest isn't up to us." Their main competition will come from Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the US, who also captured silver at last year's Worlds; France's Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder, who were fourth in Turin; former world runners-up Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski of Bulgaria; Canada's Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon; and Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas of Lithuania. The Olympic gold and bronze medalists Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia and Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of Ukraine are not competing, nor are Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio of Italy. None of the Olympic gold medalists in all four categories, dance, pairs, men and ladies, is taking part in these championships.