"We are delighted to be back in Israel and have the opportunity to present our new programs first for the Israeli public," said Galit Chait, who together with partner Sergei Sakhnovsky dazzled the crowd at Skate Israel 2005 over the weekend.
The annual competition, which takes place at the Canada Center in Metulla, boasts Israel's top figure skaters and a number of worthy contenders from overseas.
At the end of the Compulsory Dance, Chait and Sakhnovsky, who are currently ranked sixth in the world, stood in first place with a score of 41.48. They then added 68.33 in the Original Dance, a delightful Cha-Cha, Rhumba and Samba mix for a combined 109.81, putting them well in the lead.
Russians Oxana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia, who are eighth in the world, totaled 92.30 for second place, while the Armenian couple, Anastasia Grebinkina and Vazgen Azroyan, had a combined 87.53 for third.
The Israeli siblings, Alexandra and Roman Zaretsky, are fourth (78.81) followed by Hungarians Zsuzsanna Nagy and Gyorgy Elek (63.39).
Viktoria Pavuk of Hungary leads in the Ladies Short Program with 54.01 points. Belgian Sara Falotico (40.77) is second and Elena Zhitkova of Russia (39.15) third. Although not fully recovered from a stress fracture, Israeli Tamar Katz skated and managed a score of 32.15.
The Mens Short Program saw some superb skating, with Alexander Shubin of Russia holding down the top spot with an aggregate score of 59.32, followed closely by Israeli Roman Serov with 57.23 and Russian Mikhail Magerovski (56.82). The remaining six skaters had far lower scores.
Shortly after a beautifully executed Tango Romantica in the opening Compulsory Dance, Chait spoke to The Jerusalem Post about the upcoming season.
"We're pleased that our first Grand Prix competition will take place at the Cup of China [November 3-6] which will give us a few more weeks to iron out some of the parts of our program."
In past years, Chait and Sakhnovsky started the Grand Prix season at Skate Canada at the very beginning of the season without a tournament before that to make any adjustments.
The Skate Israel tournament winds up Sunday with the Ladies Free skate beginning at noon, followed by the Mens Free Skate and Free Dance.
Admission is free for all events, including the closing ceremonies.
At 6 p.m. there will be a closing Gala performance, which will be televised live on Sport 5.