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Agosto, Belbin Win 3rd Straight US Figure Skating Championships


American ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto have won their third straight U.S. Figure Skating championships and qualified for the Turin Olympics.

Thanks to a flamenco program that emphasized technique, the dancers won with a total of 215.29 points Friday night.

The skaters also needed some help from the U.S. Congress, which changed the naturalization law and allowed the Canadian-born Belbin to represent the United States. She became a U.S. citizen December 31, 2005.

Meanwhile in the pairs competition, Rena Inoue and John Baldwin landed a throw triple axel jump for the first time in competition to take the U.S. title.

Inoe and Baldwin finished with a total of 181.05 points and qualified for the Turin games. Second-place finishers Marcy Hinzmann and Aaron Parchem also made the Olympic team.

The men's and the women's singles champions will be crowned Saturday. Sasha Cohen leads the women's standings while Johnny Weir leads the men after the short program.

Nine-time U.S. champion Michelle Kwan is not competing because of an injury, but will appeal to the U.S. Olympic committee for a slot on the team.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.
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