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Tanith Belbin's Story: May I Have this Ice Dance?



Tanith Belbin's Story: May I Have this Ice Dance?
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 6 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.31

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    legislation, citizenship, selection, format, accompany, footwork, staple, ballroom, participate, aspect, citizen, winning, bronze, determination, gratitude, musical
     content words:    Tanith Belbin, Ben Agosto, World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Winter Olympics, United States, World Championships, Maxim Zavozin, Ave Maria, Olympic Games


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Tanith Belbin's Story: May I Have this Ice Dance?
By Colleen Messina
  

1     Becoming an Olympic athlete takes dedication, determination, and sometimes even a move to a new country. Tanith Belbin was born in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, on July 11, 1984, but she was raised in Quebec. At one point, she could not find a good ice dance partner. She moved to Michigan in 1998 and began skating with Ben Agosto. They were a winning combination! The two earned a bronze medal at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships. The pair wanted to participate in the 2002 Olympics. However, Tanith was not an American citizen, so she could not compete on the team.
 
2     Some people had ideas about how to solve the citizenship situation. They wrote letters. They circulated petitions. Tanith hoped that she could become a citizen in time for the 2006 Winter Olympics. Her fans supported the idea because Tanith and Ben were the reason that the United States had three dance spots at the competition to begin with. This was because the pair had won a medal at the 2005 World Championships, which earned the U.S. a third spot. The legislation passed by Congress was intended to accelerate the citizenship process for "aliens of extraordinary ability." Tanith and another ice dancer, Maxim Zavozin, benefitted from its passage.
 
3     Tanith became a naturalized citizen on December 31, 2005. Tanith was thrilled. She said, "For the first time, I was able to cross the border, and when I was asked my citizenship, I could say American. That was exciting." She was able to compete in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. Tanith and Ben won a silver medal in ice dancing. This was big news. The U.S. had not won a medal in ice dancing since 1976!

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