Meryl Davis-Charlie White win ice dance
SAN JOSE -- Who needs suspense when you skate that beautifully?
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are the U.S. national champions in ice dance for the fourth straight year, and no one who sat in the stands at HP Pavilion on Saturday afternoon cared for a minute that their fate was decided the moment they stepped on the ice.
Davis and White, skating to Johann Strauss' lush operetta "Die Fledermaus," were fluid, fast and simply gorgeous.
They received a standing ovation as they came off the ice and then earned the equivalent from the judges, who gave them a 114.65 for an overall score of 191.54, sealing their first national title since they became the reigning world champions.
"I think we achieved exactly what we wanted to achieve," Davis said. "We wanted to leave it all out on the ice and we felt like we achieved a new comfort level with all of our programs."
Davis and White won easily (a margin of 12.70 points), finishing in front of siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani, who turned out a lively free-skate to a medley of Glenn Miller songs and finished with a score of 178.84.
The two pairs will be among the favorites at the World Championships in Nice, France, in March.
The drop-off for third was sharp, the bronze going to new partners Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who finished at 151.60.
All four of the top finishers, including fourth-place finishers Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, train in Michigan.
For Davis and White, the result has been the same in every event since the 2010 World Championships. If they are in the competition, they finish it on the top step of the podium.
It does not appear that the constancy of success -- they have not lost since finishing second in the 2010 Worlds -- is making the pair complacent in the least.
"Year to year, it's always different with different teams," White said, addressing the question of whether it's more difficult to get to the top of skating or stay there. "Ben (Agosto) and Tanith (Belbin) really set the standard for American ice dancing and we were chasing them and that really helped push us. Now we are on top, but we have the Shibutanis right behind us. That also really helps push us."
In Friday's short dance, Davis and White posted the highest short dance score ever with a score of 76.89, the highest under the current scoring system.
The Shibutanis, who train with Davis and White in Canton, Mich., finished second at nationals for the second year in a row. The charismatic siblings, who have proven so strong at incorporating dance elements into their skates, are chasing the best in the world. When will it be time to catch up?
"The important thing in this sport is to always focus on yourselves," Alex Shibutani said. "You can't control what someone else is doing. We are always looking ahead, trying to build on what we've done previously. We've accomplished so much in our second year as a senior team and we plan on being around for many more years."