U.S. ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the five-time U.S. champions, three-time World medalists and 2006 Olympic silver medalists, announced Thursday, April 17 that they will end their 10-year professional relationship with coach Igor Shpilband and choreographer Marina Zoueva and will begin training with 1980 Olympic and two-time World ice dancing champions Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponosov at the IceWorks Skating Complex in Aston, Pa.
Belbin and Agosto said the decision to leave Shpilband and Zoueva was a difficult one, but they felt it was necessary to gain fresh input and bring a new perspective to their skating.
“They are a remarkable coaching pair, and we have great admiration for them,” Agosto said.
“We never would have achieved our current level of success without Igor and Marina, and we are very grateful for their friendship and their guidance over the past years,” Belbin said.
Linichuk and Karponsov have trained several prominent ice dancing teams including two-time Olympic champions Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov, two-time World champions Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsiannikov, and two-time World champions Albena Denkova and Maxim Staviski.
“Natalia and Gennadi are highly accomplished coaches, and we are very excited about working with them to take our skating performance to a new level,” Agosto said.
The 2007-08 season saw Belbin and Agosto take home gold from Skate America and Skate Canada, and earn a silver at the Grand Prix Final in Italy. They went on to win their fifth straight U.S. title and ended their season with a fourth-place finish at the 2008 World Championships in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The team is disappointed to be leaving Detroit but is looking forward to training in Aston.
“Detroit will always be like home for us, but sometimes to grow you need to leave home and explore new opportunities,” Agosto said.