IceNetwork pre-Skate America article

Davis, White re-tool Tango for Skate America

Add "room to breath" to free dance, sharper edges to Waltz

By Lynn Rutherford, special to

(11/02/2010) - Meryl Davis

and Charlie White are giving themselves a little breathing room.

The Olympic and world silver medalists won their first event of the season, NHK Trophy, by a comfortable margin. Still, they want to deliver more.

"NHK was really a successful competition for us," Davis said. "We had kind of a different offseason than before, less time to get ready.

"Our programs are taking shape, and we're on our way to accomplishing our goals; first and foremost, we're looking to win that [world] gold medal, to improve our skating skills and performance level...we [want] to improve dramatically and get to the top of the podium."

With training partners and top rivals Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir sidelined by Virtue's recent leg surgery, Davis and White have to be considered overwhelming favorites for gold every time they compete. White said they can't let their front-runner status slow their quest for perfection.

"We've always had sort of the same outlook, focus on ourselves. We know where we need to improve. It could only hurt us to go back and think we're favorites because [Virtue and Moir] are temporarily injured. If anyone can come back strong, it's them.

"Certainly we miss having them at the rink [in Canton, Mich.]. It was a blessing last year having them here, training for the Olympics, going through [the same things] we were going through."

Last season, the team gained raves for both their "Bollywood" original dance and Phantom of the Opera free dance; this time around, participation in post-Olympic tours, including Stars on Ice, left less off-season time for choreography and preparation. The skaters and their coaches, Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, digested feedback received for the team's Tango free dance, which debuted at NHK.

"[The Tango] is definitely a departure for us, something very different," White said. "We have gotten quite a bit of feedback, mostly positive.

"[At Skate America] you're going to see a slightly different program than at NHK. We've sort of changed the program around. As we said, we didn't have the kind of time we usually have [but] we didn't want to dumb the program down, so we really jam-packed the free dance, especially with intricate Tango footwork...It was almost too full; it was hard for us to take a breath and hard for audience to take a breath as well."

Davis and White also hope to improve upon their short dance, a hybrid of the compulsory and original dances developed by the ISU in part as a response to the International Olympic Committee's suggestion that ice dance limit itself to two events.

For the 2010-11 season, the Golden Waltz was selected for inclusion, and may be paired with Waltz, Tango, Fox Trot and Quickstep rhythms. At NHK, the skaters gained just Level 1 for one of their Golden Waltz sequences.

While the Golden Waltz helps judges separate teams, White sees one drawback.

"To a certain degree, the Golden Waltz, because it is so difficult, it kind of takes away some of the flair a lot of teams could add to the short dance," he said.

"[At NHK] we just a missed a few edges, a little slip here and there. We were performing to the audience [and] not hitting edges as we are used to doing."

At Skate Canada last week, Zoueva admitted the couple's dance could have been stronger, but also thought the NHK technical panel may have been a bit too harsh.

"Meryl and Charlie, getting Level 1 [on sequence 2] in Japan, that was a little weird," the coach said. "There is a huge difference between Level 1 and Level 4. For sure, they did something not right, but Level 1? Charlie's Choctaw [step] was a little too flat, but there is Level 2, Level 3. "


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