Meryl Davis and Charlie White made the CenturyLink Center their personal rink Friday with a dominating performance in the short program of championship dancing at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
In harmony from start to finish, they posted a score of 79.02, more than eight points ahead of any of the other dance tandems.
“We were very pleased with our short dance today,” Davis said. “We have really been evolving our overall comfort on the ice, our speed, our energy, since the November (Grand Prix) final. I think it really paid off in our performance today.”
The crowd truly appreciated the show from the defending Olympic silver medalists. They received the loudest cheers and biggest ovation of the event that runs through Sunday.
The two have been through a coaching change in the past year, but White said they’ve put the stress of that behind them and focused on what they can control on the ice.
“I think we feel closer. We feel a stronger connection because it was a tough time,” White said. “But we’re using it this year in our program, using it to show our confidence.”
White said they’ll also use it in Saturday’s free dance final to show the passion they feel for the sport that has been so good to them. White and Davis are aiming for their fifth consecutive dance national championship.
Madison Chock and Evan Bates finished second with a score of 70.80, with the sister-brother tandem of Maia and Alex Shibutani not far behind in third at 69.63. All short dance scores are combined with Saturday’s free dance totals to determine which three teams earn medals.
“I think that there’s just no real substitute for time spent together and last year we didn’t have much of it and this year we’ve had a lot more,” Bates said. “I think it’s just a night-and-day difference in the level of comfort we feel on the ice with each other.”
Alex Shibutani said he and his sister’s performance was about trying to make things look as polished as possible.
“I think we have a very smooth quality to our skating, sometimes underappreciated, but I think that we are proud of our quiet blades not making a lot of scratching,” Shibutani said. “The ease in which we skate, I think that is something we really try to bring across. Make it look effortless.”
There was a tense moment during the warm-ups for the second group of dancers when the teams of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, and Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt had a mid-ice collision. No one was hurt, though Hubbell was rubbing her backside as she skated off the ice.
Hubbell and Donohue finished fourth with a 67.75, 3.06 points ahead of fifth-place Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt. Hubbell and Donohue, dressed in costumes modeled after the main characters in the movie “Titanic,” skated to music from the film’s dance scenes.
Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt, who finished fourth at the 2012 nationals in San Jose, Calif., also kept the audience’s attention with their Western-themed costumes and skate to Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.”
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