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Delobel and Schoenfelder Prepare For Final Season

In early June, Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder were busy in their home rink of Lyon-Charlemagne where they had some welcome guests. Their longtime friends, Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon, went to France to choreograph what will be remembered as the last competitive free program for the 2008 Worlds ice dancing champions.

"We were very happy that we could work again with Marie-France and Patrice," Schoenfelder said. "They put together our free last season, but it was like an unfinished story as -- because of Isabelle's shoulder injury --we performed it only three times in major events (Skate America, Trophée Eric Bompard and the ISU Grand Prix Final).

"Our ‘Pink Floyd’ routine (from last season) allowed us to show another side of our personalities and that led the building of the new program."

The recently wed Delobel is seven months pregnant. Last month, she was still skating four hours a day. "I was very careful," their coach Muriel Boucher-Zazoui told IFS. "In April she fell once and we were quite worried, but she knew she had to be cautious and us too!"

Delobel and Schoenfelder have invented a new discipline. Ice dancing is supposed to be a two-person sport, but in their case it is a three-way affair. "When we skate, I have noticed that the baby is reacting and enjoying the music we picked," Delobel said with a wink. "As long as I do not feel tired, I will continue to practice."

She told IFS she is hoping to continue skating until the beginning of August. She works with a physical condition specialist. "Because my body is changing, I do some specific exercises in order, at least once a week, to keep my balance," Delobel said. "That will help me (too) after delivering the baby (in September)."

"When we created the program, we left some empty places," Dubreuil explained.

As Delobel was unable to perform any lift, Dubreuil substituted for her. "But Isabelle was watching very carefully," Lauzon acknowledged. "She has a good mental memory and she would have no problem in performing when back on the ice."

There were some funny moments at the practice session witnessed by IFS. Delobel and Schoenfelder and then Dubreuil and Schoenfelder spent much of the practice skating together. At times though, Delobel skated with Lauzon and more surprisingly Schoenfelder with Lauzon. "I understood then why certain of the moves they created were so difficult," Lauzon said with a smile.

Delobel and Schoenfelder were assigned to the last two ISU Grand Prix events (Skate America and Skate Canada) of the season. If they are not ready, they will start their season, which will be their 20th and final, with the French national championships in Marseille (Dec. 18-20).