Ice dancing championship has a state flavor

January 18, 2010

Defending U.S champions among those with local ties

GREGG KRUPA
The Detroit News

Ice dancers from Metro Detroit, and those who train in the area, have had this week circled on their calendars for more than a year, now.

The hotly-contested ice dancing competition in the U.S. Figure Skating Championships begins Thursday in Spokane, Wash., and climaxes with the free dance championship live on NBC, beginning at 3 p.m. on Saturday.

Meryl Davis, of West Bloomfield, and Charlie White, of Bloomfield Hills, who train at the Arctic Figure Skating Club, in Canton, rank No. 1 in the world. Davis and White will defend their U.S. title this week against Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the six-time American champions and the silver medal winners at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

"I think the big thing for us over the next couple of months is just being leveled-headed and doing what we know how to do," Davis said Sunday, after a workout in Canton.

Belbin and Agosto used to train in Metro Detroit, until they switched coaches and headed off to train in Pennsylvania. They did not compete for the 2009 championship because of Agosto's back injury.

Also in the ice dancing mix, and hoping to secure a spot in Vancouver, are Evan Bates, of Ann Arbor and a Michigan student, and Emily Samuelson, of Novi, who placed second in the American championship last year.

Canadian ice dancing pairs also train in the figure skating mecca of Metro Detroit. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won the Canadian national championship Saturday and are medal hopefuls in Vancouver, train at the Arctic Figure Skating Club under Russian coaches Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva.

gkrupa@detnews.com">gkrupa@detnews.com (313) 222-2631

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