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Top Favorites Navka/Kostomarov Lead Ice Dancing Original
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Top favorites Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov of Russia closed towards the gold medals of the ice dancing as they secured the first place after the original at the Turin Winter Olympic Games on Sunday.

Navka and Kostomarov, who ranked second in the compulsory, put out a solid performance in the original with a combination spin, a curve lift, a diagonal step sequence and a rotational lift. The two-time world champions scored 61.07 points (30.39 element score/30.68 program component score) to clinch the first place with a combined total of 99.27 points.

"We came here for the gold medal and we are quite confident for the next free dance because that is our strong field," said Navka after the original competition.

Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto of the United States convinced with an elegant performance to earn the second place with a total result of 97.89 points.

World bronze medalists Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of Ukraine were also within the striking distance of the podium with 96.68 points, which gave them a third place after the compulsory and original dances.

"We have to wait for the free dance for which we chosen Pter Gabriel's music. We really like his music and have wanted to skate to it for some years," Grushina said.

Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio of Italy, who claimed the first place after the compulsory dance, stepped out of the top six on Sunday as they committed a mistake in the last rotational lift when Poli fell on the ice. They came in the seventh with a total result of 90.51 points.

"Yes, we were too far from the top place now, but I can tell you that our fault was not due to the pressure," Margaglio said.

"Anyway, we will keep trying towards the medal tomorrow," added him.

Poli and Margaglio upset Navka and Kostomarov in the compulsory to clinch the top place on Friday. The Salt Lake City Olympic bronze medalists retired in 2002 but came back for the Turin Games.

Competition was tough in the original dance as the difference of points in the compulsory between the top six couples was small. Poli and Margaglio's lead over Belbin and Agosto in sixth place was only 1.42 points.

After Sunday's original dance, the gap between top six couples has been extended to 7.47 points.

(Xinhua News Agency February 20, 2006)

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