There is no denying that American ice dancer Tanith Belbin is a beautiful woman. As she glides across the ice with partner Ben Agosto, it's hard to take your eyes off of her. But the Belbin you'll see take the ice Friday night is very different than the one who won silver at Turin in 2006.
This Belbin is 10 pounds heavier, and she couldn't be happier about that.
According to the New York Times, Belbin and Agosto went to new coaches, including Natalia Linichuk, in 2008. One of Linichuk's first suggestions was for Belbin to put on weight. Belbin was resistant, which brought to light Belbin's problems with eating.
“I thought I was out of control and that the weight gain must be my fault,” she said. “I was like, I’m eating nothing and I’m still not losing weight. I swear, I’m not eating anything and I’m exhausted and cranky and stressed and all of those things that make you gain weight even more.”
With Linichuk's help, Belbin changed her eating and training habits. She grew stronger, allowing curves and muscles to be a part of her body. Agosto said that their lifts have improved, as Belbin can hold herself up more easily. If you've ever held a sleeping child, you know that Agosto's job became much easier as Belbin's strength improved.
The difference in their skating is noticeable. Last season, they took silver in Skate America and the Cup of China. This season, they took gold in the same events, and they are contenders for gold in ice dancing.
So when you watch Belbin compete for gold this weekend, realize that you're not just looking at a beautiful woman. You're looking at a beautiful, healthy woman.