Road To The Olympic Games

Belbin, Agosto retire from competition

Ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto are retiring from competitive figure skating.

Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto's success goes far beyond their Olympic silver medal.

Belbin, originally from Kingston, Ont., and Agosto called it quits Thursday on a competitive career that changed ice dance in the United States, transforming it from a snoozer of a sport to a discipline where the Americans are now a powerhouse. Along with their silver at the 2006 Turin Games, they were five-time U.S. champions and four-time medallists at the world championships.

"We have accomplished and surpassed so many of our goals, from participating in two Olympic Games to pushing ourselves and developing our skills in this sport we love so much," Belbin said in a statement released by U.S. Figure Skating. "We feel we can move on from our competitive careers without regret."

The announcement hardly comes as a surprise. Belbin, who turns 26 next month, and Agosto, 28, have been skating together since 1998, and frequently talked of this past season being their last. They skipped the world championships in March after finishing fourth at the Vancouver Games.

Americans were barely afterthoughts in ice dance a decade ago. Europeans dominated the discipline, and a top-10 finish was as good as a medal for an American team. But Belbin and Agosto's athleticism, innovation and personality won over the international judges.

They won the junior world title in 2002. Three years later, they won the silver medal at the senior world championships, the first at worlds by a U.S. dance team in 20 years. Their silver at the Turin Games was only the second Olympic medal for U.S. dancers, and the first since 1976.

Belbin and Agosto won another silver at the world championships in 2009, and took the bronze in 2006 and '07.

Their success opened the door for other American ice dancers. Former training partners Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the silver medal at the Vancouver Games, and a silver at worlds. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates were junior world champions in 2008, and finished a respectable 11th in Vancouver, their first Olympics.

Belbin and Agosto, who just finished the Stars on Ice tour, plan to keep skating together professionally.

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