Ice Skating: Torvill and Dean show they mean Olympic business: British maestros demonstrate they have lost none of their original eye-catching touch

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The Independent Online
TORVILL and Dean are back. They announced their return to the sporting world with a romantic Rhumba that put sixes on the scoreboard at the Sheffield Arena in the British Ice Dance Championships last night.

They cast aside any doubt over the wisdom of pursuing an Olympic title to follow their gold-medal performance 10 years ago in Sarajevo with a display so fluent, so sharp, so subtle that four of the nine judges rated the presentation as perfect. The rest gave 5.9. The intricate composition brought them eight 5.9s and a 5.8.

Jayne's black dress and Christopher's matching shirt and waistcoat may have been understated but their performance made a loud and clear statement of their intent. After today's free programme, which is a contest between themselves and the judges rather than a final element of competition here, Torvill and Dean will head off in search of a fourth European title and then go on to the Olympics posing the same powerful threat of old to the world's best.

Bobby Thompson, a widely respected ice dance coach who is helping to guide their progress, was ecstatic. 'Jayne and Christopher portrayed the chosen music, the 'History of Love', perfectly,' he enthused. 'This was a very sensuous performance. They explained beautifully how the Rhumba should be danced on ice.' The challenge for the skaters was to to bring one of the most romantic of dances to the rink within the rigours of competition rules without losing its emotion. Torvill and Dean achieved the sensuous hip-swaying motion despite having to avoid planting both feet and slipped in the two permissible stacato stops in which they struck pouting poses as if ice and not a sultry soiree was the natural setting for the dance.

They elevated the event to a plane far beyond the range of their rivals. The defending champions, Marika Humphreys and Justin Lanning, were fortunate to skate this section before the masters and did admirably, attracting marks as high as 5.4 for composition and 5.5 for presentation to establish themselves as clearly the best of the rest.

The smaller afternoon crowd witnessed similar superior Torvill and Dean performances in the highly technical compulsory dance section, which counts for 20 per cent of the final score. The original dance, the Rhumba, contributes 30 per cent and the free programme the rest.

This was gold-medal form from Torvill and Dean. 'We wouldn't be doing this if we didn't think we had a chance,' Dean said of their Olympic hopes. The world awaits.

BRITISH ICE DANCE CHAMPIONSHIPS (Sheffield Arena): Compulsory dances: 1 J Torvill and C Dean (unatt) 0.4 pts; 2 M Humphreys and C Lanning (Slough) 0.8; 3 M Fitzgerald and V Kyle (Slough) 1.2; 4 M James and P Askew (Nottingham); 5 L Burton and D Lenard (Slough) 2.0; 6 C Wileman and A Place (Nottingham) 2.4; 7= J Keeble and L Salpadoru (Lee Valley) and L Dunn and J Dunn (Blackburn) 3.0; 9 V Foxley and N Chilcott (Altrincham and Deeside) 3.6; 10 L Chakmakjian and D Phillips (Slough) 4.0. Original dance: 1 Torvill and Dean 0.6; 2 Humphreys and Lanning 1.2; 3 Fitzgerald and Kyle 1.8; 4 Burton and Lenard 2.4; 5 James and Askew 3.0; 6 Wileman and Place 3.6; 7 Keeble and Salpadoru 4.2; 8 Dunn and Dunn 4.8; 9 Foxley and Chilcott 5.4; 10 N Cruickshank and S Hewitt (Altrincham) 6.0. Overall positions: 1 Torvill and Dean 1.0; 2 Humphreys and Lanning 2.0; 3 Fitzgerald and Kyle 3.0; 4 Burton and Lenard 4.4; 5 James and Askew 4.6; 6 Wileman and Place 6.0; 7 Keeble and Salpadoru 7.2; 8 Dunn and Dunn 7.8; 9 Foxley and Chilcott 9.0; 10 Cruickshank and Hewitt 10.4.

(Photograph omitted)