Davis, White say if it ain't broke, don't fix it

U.S. champions are sticking to the script in Vancouver

By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com

(02/18/2010) -
The Tango Romantica compulsory isn't until Friday, but as far as Meryl Davis and Charlie White are concerned, the competition has already started.

At practices on Thursday, most teams worked on just a section or two of their programs, milling around and chatting during other parts of their music.

Not the U.S. champions. They did a perfect run-through of their "Bollywood" original dance, with every head tilt and facial expression intact, even though the Pacific Coliseum had already been emptied of spectators -- save for media and any judges that might be watching.

"We're confident enough that we really want to show every bit and every piece of our programs," Davis said. "So yes, the strategy is to show the judges everything we can do in practice, and hopefully, they'll take note."

"We're rested, we feel good, we're ready to go," White added. "We've done everything so many times; our bodies just know where to go on the ice."

So far this season, everything is going Davis and White's way. They've won five events, including the Grand Prix Final and the 2010 AT&T U.S. Figure Skating Championships, defeating top rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moirand Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto along the way.

With so much success, no one can blame them for sticking to the script.

"There's nothing special to be said here; we're very motivated, we've done all the right things," White said. "We're ready to go. Definitely no last-minute changes."

Costumes, elements, every note of their music -- none of it has changed since September.

"Everything is the same as it was at our first competition, Nebelhorn [Trophy]," Davis said. "We've had a whirlwind of a season, and we've just kept really busy."

"We haven't needed to change anything," White added. "We've gotten positive feedback on everything. When you need to change something, you take care of it, but for us, all the judges have been saying, 'Just leave it the way it is and keep doing the same things you've been doing, and you'll be successful.'"

With their confidence high, the skaters are embracing every moment of their Olympic experience.

"We're having an amazing time in the [athlete's] village," Davis said. "We've been saying, you can just sit in the cafeteria and watch all these incredible athletes walk in and out, and meet people, and that's enough for the day. You don't have to do anything to be entertained."

While they haven't visited any other sports venues yet, they're watching events on TV at Vancouver's USA House, helping to explain the intricacies of figure skating to other athletes.

"We were sitting there with some hockey players, watching the men's short program, and they were asking us, 'What's that jumpy, spin-y thing they do?'" Davis said. "It's been cool to kind of get to know people you wouldn't normally get to meet."

After they're through competing, they hope to see other events in person. First stop: Cypress Mountain, where the snowboarding is being held.

"My brother does snowboarding, and I never got the opportunity to explore it," Davis said. "It's just a cool sport. I think we're both looking forward to some of that."

First things first: tomorrow, they will be the 17th team to take the ice for the Tango Romantica.

Compulsories have been a relative weakness of Davis and White in the past, but coaches Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva have been drilling their Tango Romantica all season.

"We competed the Tango a couple of times earlier this year, and the creator of the dance [Elena Tchaikovskaya] visited us in Canton [Mich.] just a couple of weeks ago, so we feel really confident that we know exactly what we should be doing," Davis said.

"We know that gold is within our reach, so when we step out on to the ice, it's not gold that's in our mind. It's skating the best we possibly can. If we do that, we know we have a really good shot."

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