pre-Skate America articles

Just for fun: these are photos from when Meryl and Charlie skated to Die Fledermaus in 2002-2003

Ice dancing takes top billing at Skate America

By BETH HARRIS AP Sports Writer

ONTARIO, Calif.—Soon after Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first gold medal in ice dancing for the United States at the world championships, they got busy changing everything.

The skaters from suburban Detroit turned down many of the spoils that came from their breakthrough victory, preferring to install new short and long programs despite having just five months before the season began.

Davis and White will find out whether their singular focus was worth it starting Friday night at Skate America, the opening Grand Prix meet of the season and their first competition since winning worlds at Moscow in April.

"We want to go out there and make it look like we've never won anything in our lives," White said after practice Thursday. "That's how hungry we are."

Having tangoed their way to a world title, Davis and White will debut a rumba and samba in their Latin-inspired short dance and a lighthearted waltz set at a masquerade ball in their free dance. They had help on their short dance from Elena Grinenko, a professional ballroom dancer who appeared on the first season of "Dancing With the Stars."

"We're coming into this season really confident and really excited," Davis said. "Kind of ready to work and ready to get down to all the really important details in the program."

They went through only portions of their long dance during practice, with rival skaters and coaches keeping a close eye on the world champs.

"We're adjusting to it very happily," Davis said, giggling at the new title in front of their names. "It's something that we'll take with us for a very long time."

Having won a world title with their old routines, there was no pressure for Davis and White to replace them, only pressure to do so in a short amount of time.

"The year leading into the world championships before they won, they were working so hard I didn't think it was possible to work any harder," said Igor Shpilband, one of their coaches. "But after the worlds, there was so much desire. You tell them to do little things, they're going to go harder. They have so much drive. That's what made it possible to change the program.

"They're pretty comfortable with the material and it's only going to get better."

Davis and White will be heavy favorites to defend their Skate America title, with Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France figuring to settle for a lower spot on the podium.

The other American couples are Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, skating together for the first time this season, and Isabella Cannuscio and Ian Lorello, who are making their debut at this event.

The men's event begins Friday night without Olympic champion Evan Lysacek. The American, back in training since his win at last year's Vancouver Games, pulled out of the season's first two Grand Prix events.

Davis, White go in different direction

Reigning world champions listen to feedback, change free dance

By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/20/2011) - Meryl Davis and Charlie White didn't win the U.S.'s first-ever world ice dancing title by being stubborn.

For the second consecutive season, the team has scrapped a competitive program after gaining feedback from judges and officials at U.S. Figure Skating's Champs Camp, which was held Aug. 26-29 in Colorado Springs.

In late summer of 2010, the three-time U.S. ice dancing champions changed their Golden Waltz short dance from a program set to the Amelie soundtrack to one choreographed to an opera medley. The switch worked: Davis and White won every event they entered.

This time around, the change was more complex. The skaters and their coaches, Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva, put a free dance to Nino Rota'sLa Strada score into mothballs in favor of a more light-hearted routine to the Johann Strauss operetta Die Fledermaus (The Bat).


Turning to Die Fledermaus, a comedic tale of multiple mistaken identities highlighted by an uproarious masquerade ball, came relatively easily.

"Marina, for a long time, has been telling us that it would make a great program for us, and I guess we were going to get around to it eventually," White said. "It kind of made it easier that there was this option floating around, that we had talked about before."

Zoueva -- who also choreographed two-time Olympic pairs champions Katia Gordeeva and Sergei Grinkov's 1989 world title-winning free program to Die Fledermaus -- is thrilled with the change.

"I always thought this couple should skate to this music, and now it is happening," she said. "It is an absolutely adorable program, it suits the ISU rules, and I think it will be one of their best, if not their best."

Full article HERE.

Meryl Davis, Charlie White have inside edge as Skate America kicks off season.
By Jo-Ann Barnas
Here come the champs: Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

If Davis and White have any questions on how to handle the pressure of being world champions after becoming the first American gold medalists in ice dance last spring in Moscow, they can turn to their Canadian teammates at the Arctic Figure Skating Club in Canton.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir got to the top first, winning the 2010 Olympic title in Vancouver before capturing the gold medal later that season at worlds in Torino, Italy.

"It is a different feeling defending," Moir said. "I know that Tessa and I really dealt with having the feeling like we had to live up to our expectations. It took us awhile to come around and not overthink it and get back to the real reasons why you skate -- and that's to push yourself every day and to keep going. I think Charlie and Meryl have done a good job handling those pressures. I think they know it's going to be a good season this year -- and our rivalry will just heat up even more."

Davis and White, three-time U.S. champions, have won their last six competitions since finishing runner-up to the Canadians at the 2010Olympics and worlds. They know they're going into Skate America with more focus on them than ever before.

Two weeks ago, they were the followed by NBC Sports and a camera crew for a feature that will run this weekend on the Arctic FSC's ice dance program. Led by coaches Marina Zoueva, Igor Shpilband and Johnny Johns, the Canton club swept the medals at worlds, with Virtue and Moir following Davis and White's gold with a silver. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani captured the bronze in their first world appearance.

"Last year it felt like we had more pressure because we felt it was our time; we said we wanted to win worlds," White said. "This season we're looking to enjoy it a little more competition to competition."


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