(photo credit: Channel 2)
Israel's hopes for an Olympic medal took a blow Friday evening when ice dancer Galit Chait fell during the compulsory program of the pairs ice dancing competition.
Chait and her partner, Sergei Sakhnovsky, were in 13th place after earning a combined 31.07 points.
Israeli brother and sister Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky were in 19th place Friday after skating their compulsory program to Ravensburger Waltz. The pair, who drew the last slot in the third of five competing groups, were awarded 12.92 points for technical elements and 10.59 points for program components.
While the spectators demonstrated their approval of the Zaretskys' program with warm applause, Eurosport commentators expressed doubt about the brother and sister's technical level.
Although Chait and Sakhnovsky are considered one of the best ice dance teams in the world, they have not set a specific goal for the Games. "We want to skate our best," said Galit. "I hope to skate well and give our best performance here in this competition."
"We don't skate for a medal," Sergei agreed. "We are athletes but also art people. We skate for art. It's not that we don't want to win a medal, we'll do everything for that, but we want people to like us."
While Chait and Sakhnovsky will try to finish in the top 10, the 18- and 22-year-old Zaretskys have a different battle at the bottom of the list. The sport builds on experience (with the exception of Belbin and Agosto), and the younger teams at the Olympics are there more for exposure and less for the final standings.
"All we expect from ourselves is to perform well," says Roman. "We want to present ourselves in a good way. It's about getting the experience and learning."
"We would like to be in the top 10, top three," smiles Alexandra, "but not this time. Maybe the next Olympics."
In the second program, the original dance, on Sunday, the teams choose their own music, but they must perform to Latin rhythms from a pre-determined list.
The third and final program, the free dance, is on Monday. While the Zaretskys will skate to Caravan, a famous jazzy piece, Chait's and Sakhnovksy's choice of music caused waves this season. They picked Ravel's Bolero, a piece of music that in many minds is identified with the legendary performance of British ice dancers Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean.
"It was my dream to skate to Bolero," Sergei said, explaining the risky decision. "Because of Torvill and Dean, we had to wait with that, until people don't remember it as much. We're not repeating what they did, we have different ideas for it. We actually tried other musical choices as well, but when we skated to this one, our coach said, 'This is it.'"
AP contributed to this report.