Post-Nebelhorn article

In a League of Their Own

Publish On 10-02-2009 , 8:36 PM

by Robin Ritoss,

American Champions Meryl Davis, 22, and Charlie White, 21, of Royal Oak, Michigan obliterated the competition in their Olympic season opener – the Nebelhorn Trophy last week in Oberstdorf. The duo narrowly missed a podium placement at the World Championships last March which caused controversy among the skating community. Many felt the Canton based skaters should have been placed first in the free dance at that event – however, the judges did not agree, placing them only third in that segment and fourth overall. They missed the podium by a slim margin of 0.4 points.

However, here in Oberstdorf the 2008 Grand Prix Final bronze medalists were in a league all their own. Davis and White eclipsed their closest challengers Israel's brother and sister team of Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski by a whopping 30+ points.

Skating together since 1997 the duo admits they can anticipate each other's movements. In their Tango Romantica compulsory dance they easily sailed into first place with 37.62 points 5.28 points higher than their closest rival. Their soft knees an deep edging were well rewarded by the judging panel.

Davis and White displayed a high energy and technically demanding skate to ”Devdas” by Nusret Badr. The Indian routine is based on the Kathak Dance of Northern India. The word kathak means "to tell a story". It is derived from the dance dramas of ancient India.

“It is a story based on an Indian folk tale about an Indian God, who is playing a flute to call the women in the village to him,” the Americans told the press.

With Davis donning a modified Ghagara choli and White outfitted in traditional Sheerwani garb the dancers portrayed an authentic dance complete with hand gestures, which represented actual words.

“We worked with an Indian folk dancer that we found near where Charlie and I go to school in Arbor,” Meryl explained. “She worked a lot with us on our movement and on our hand gestures, and she helped us pick the music. Every gesture has a meaning. We wanted to make the program as authentic as possible. Our moms designed our costumes,” she added. They are based on designs we found in a magazine. “

Their opening level three midline step sequence was outstanding and the duo earned straight +2 GOE's (Grade of Execution) from all nine judges and was followed by a level four curve lift, level three circular steps and perfectly matched synchronized twizzles.

Davis and White added 62.08 points for their original dance and will enter the free dance in first place with a combined score of 99.70 points.

In the free dance set to Andrew Lloyd Webber's “Phantom of the Opera” the duo skated with abandon and produced a technically proficient program that was jam-packed with excitement and risky moves. Their free dance score of 100.76 points exceeded their personal best score of 100.16 points they earned last February at the Four Continents Championships in Vancouver.

The roar of the crowd was deafening as Davis and White exhibited superb and creative lifts including an incredible lift where she balances herself on the small of his back and a raised right leg. Their synchronized twizzle sequence was blazingly fast and in near-perfect unison. They earned level four for five of their elements and level three for two. It was only the final rotational lift that the Americans received a mere level one.

“It was perfect timing to start the season with this competition. We still have a long way to go, but we felt very comfortable here,” White said. “Obviously this in an important year for us …. Being the Olympic season. We've put in a lot of work during the off season, and we are picking up where we left off last year.”

Davis and White blasted to the top of the leader board with a new personal best competition score of 200.46 points.

“Our goal this season is to skate well and win the Olympic Gold Medal,” White told the media.

Israeli Champions Alexandra Zaretski, 21, and Roman Zaretski, 25, finished a distant second with an overall score of 169.59 points.

Like Davis and White the Israeli's maintained their placement during all facets of the event.

In the Tango Romantica the brother and sister team had a solid start earning a segment score of 32.34 points. They exhibited nice matching leg lines and good speed.

The Zaretski's produced a lively folk routine to the traditional Jewish classic “Hava Nagila” which earned the duo an original dance score of 52.71 points. The duo who train in New Jersey under the tutelage of 2002 World bronze medalist Galit Chait, executed two level four elements -- synchronized twizzles and a well-done curve lift. Their circular steps were awarded a level three by the technical panel and the midline step sequence a level two.

The siblings executed an emotional free dance set to the soundtrack “Schindler's List” by John Williams. They opened with their best element a level four straight-line lift, which was awarded with +2 GOE's from five of the nine judges and their curve lift was also awarded a level four. The synchronized twizzle sequence seemed to lack a bit of unison but their circular steps and curve lift to rotational lift seemed to work well with the music. Their final two elements a diagonal step sequence and a combination spin were called level two by the technical panel.

“We've always wanted to skate to this music. It is dear to our hearts,” Roman Zaretski stated. “The dance wasn't perfect, but a good start to our season.”

The Israeli's pocketed 84.54 points for their free dance – moving them into second place overall with a total score of 169.59 points.

Lithuanian's Katherine Copely and Davidas Stagniunas pulled up one spot to capture the bronze medal with an overall score of 162.02 points. Placing fourth in the compulsory dance the duo rose to the occasion in the original dance claiming the third spot.

Skating to the “West Side Story” soundtrack Copely and Stagniunas executed five level four elements; however, he stumbled on the footwork, and also lost unison on the synchronized twizzle sequence. Despite the mistakes, the duo picked up the bronze medal with 162.02 points.

Russians Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko claimed the fourth spot with 158.88 points. Competing in their first season together -- both are former Junior World bronze medalists. Riazanova won the 2008 Junior World bronze medal last season with Jonathan Guerriero and Tkachenko won the bronze medal in 2005 with Anastasia Gorshkova.

The duo provided lively programs displaying good speed and expression.

The top four couples were not competing for Olympic berths. The five Olympic spots were awarded to China, CZE, Hungary, Estonia and Georgia.

*Above photo of M&C with a fan at Nebelhorn*
*I believe they were 0.04 away from the podium, not 0.4"


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