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Maggie Hendricks

Average fan's guide to ice dancing

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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Ice dancing is likely to take up a ton of airtime in the U.S. during these Olympics. Though it's never been as popular as its more jump-y cousin, pairs skating, the U.S. is bringing two teams who are favored to win gold. Read on to prepare for the many hours of dancing you will soon watch.

Am I just watching "Dancing with the Stars" on ice? Though it may seem that way at first, try to focus on the difficulty of moving across the ice on blades while also staying in perfect sync with a partner. The teams have to perform three different dances: a compulsory dance, original dance and free dance.

What's a twizzle? Get ready to hear that word again and again. A twizzle is a multi-step rotation that is a main part of the footwork sequences in ice dancing. They're different from spins in that the skater doesn't stay in one spot as they spin. See a twizzle here.

Where are the lifts and throws? Though ice dancing does allow some lifts, the man is not allowed to raise the woman above his head. Throws and rotating jumps are not allowed, either. This allows for the skaters to focus on the artistry and interpreting the music chose for the dance.

Who is going to win? The U.S. has a strong chance at bringing home two medals in ice dance. Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto won a silver in Torino and at the 2009 World Championships. Meryl Davis and Charlie White were perennial runner-ups to Belbin and Agosto, until the U.S. Championships in January, where Davis and White took the title.

The Russian team of Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir will be in the running for gold, as well. Associated Press picked Davis and White, but it's not a good idea to rule out the veteran team of Belbin and Agosto.

Any controversies? Of course! One of the required dances is the original dance which is supposed to represent a traditional folk dance. Davis and White, for example, do an Indian dance that has been wildly popular in the subcontinents. Earlier this year, Domnina and Shabalin ticked off Australian Aborigines by doing a dance that was offensive to Aborigines.

What is the best part of ice dancing? The costumes. Oh, the costumes. The amount of time, effort and cash involved in the ice dancing costumes is awe-inspiring. See for yourself:

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See? Amazing. You have to tune in and watch ice dancing for the clothes alone.

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