Detroit News-pre competition article

Local ice dancers plan no routine changes

GREGG KRUPA
The Detroit News

Vancouver, British Columbia -- This time when the three U.S. ice dancing pairs sat on a dais for a news conference, it was Davis and White in the middle.

Befitting of their upset victory at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane last month, Meryl Davis of West Bloomfield and Charlie White of Bloomfield Hills took what is traditionally the gold medal spot in the array of figure skaters as they faced the international media for the first time at the Olympics Friday.

To their right were Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, who finished second at the nationals. To their left were Evan Bates of Ann Arbor and Emily Samuelson of Novi.

All three have strong Michigan connections.

Davis, White and Bates attend the University of Michigan. Until 2008, Belbin and Agosto, winners of five World Championship events, trained at the Arctic Figure Skating Club in Canton, where Davis and White still train.

Bates and Samuelson train at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills.

Davis and White and Belbin and Agosto are favorites for the podium when the ice dancing competition begins Thursday.

Both pairs said they plan no changes in their programs from those performed at the nationals in Spokane, Wash. And both also said that they had concentrated recently on the "Tango Romantica" that is the compulsory performance for all ice dancers at the Games.

"We've been working hard, just perfecting things," Davis said. "We feel really confident coming in."

Belbin and Agosto detailed a the saga that was their trip to Vancouver, including snow-delayed flights, and their costume designer trying to drive from Brooklyn to Philadelphia with their new costumes for the tango.

"We've been focusing a lot on it (tango)," Belbin said. "We feel really good about it coming into these Games."

Samuelson and Bates, the youngest of the three pairs, said they are confident, too. Although Bates, who rooms with White in Ann Arbor and in the Olympic Village, allowed that there was time over the next seven days for some anxiousness to build.

"The village is awesome," Bates said. "We have hi-tech rooms overlooking the water. And we're right near where all the music is going to be at night -- which could be a problem, I guess. But it isn't for me!"

A number of rock concerts are scheduled for the athletes and spectators as the Games begin.

Samuelson said that despite these Games being their first Olympics, the pair is ready.

"We're definitely ready to go, and really excited to be here," she said.

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