The Gazette article

Ice dancers Davis, White in hunt for perfection

November 11, 2010 4:30 PM

THE GAZETTE

PORTLAND, Ore. – Charlie White frustratingly tried to explain what went wrong, how a lapse in judgment spoiled a riveting performance with ice dancing partner Meryl Davis.

“We missed a few edges,” White said. “We were a little sloppy here and there. We were performing to the audience and just weren’t hitting edges like we needed to.”

Forgive White for being extra tough on himself after his latest win with Davis, a 23-point rout last month at the NHK Trophy in Nagoya, Japan. They’re accustomed to perfection.

The Olympic silver medalists have overhauled the Golden Waltz sequence for which they were severely downgraded in the Grand Prix Series opener, and they’ve also refined their Tango free dance, focused on bringing polished programs to Skate America, which starts Friday at the Rose Garden with 58 competitors, including 18 Americans, from 15 nations.

New this season in International Skating Union rule changes, all ice dancing teams must perform the Golden Waltz as their short dance, a hybrid of the compulsory dance and the original dance, then show the Fox Trot, Quickstep, Tango or Waltz as their free dance – a formula that makes the discipline in line with two-event formats for singles and pairs.

Davis, 23, of West Bloomfield, Mich., and White, 23, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., marked a Level 1 (the weakest grade on a four-level scale) for one of their waltzes, set to Puccini and Verdi, in Japan, where they topped Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje for their 13th medal on the senior tour, including their fifth Grand Prix gold in eight events.

White blamed a busy offseason, full of post-Olympic tours such as “Stars on Ice,” for not having the Golden Waltz down pat, and he has come to the realization that a mandatory sequence “takes away from some of the flair a lot of teams could add to the short dance. At the same time, it is good, to a certain degree, to be able to compare across the board.”

With the free dance, Davis said they’ve addressed “some of the negative feedback” they received from NHK judges. And they’re still determined on setting “an impression on the audience that is stronger and more passionate than we’ve been before,” fresh off a silver at the world championships, a win at the Grand Prix Final and two straight national titles.

“When we took a step back, it was almost too full,” White said of the free dance. “It was hard for us to take a breath, and it was hard for the audience to take a breath as well.” He predicts the changes from the past three weeks will “give us an opportunity to showcase some of the moves more than just trying to fit everything into a program at one time.”

Davis and White are ranked first in the world, one spot ahead of Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, their training partners who are sidelined after Virtue underwent surgery last month on her legs. The top billing hasn’t stopped them from “looking to make huge strides,” Davis said. “We’re focusing right now on being the best we can possibly be.”

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