Figure skaters chase world gold with eye on Sochi

Figure skaters chase world gold with eye on Sochi

(Reuters) - Precious medals, valuable momentum and coveted Olympic berths will all be on the line this week at the world figure skating championships with skaters looking to lay down their markers ahead next year's Sochi Winter Games.

London, a southern Ontario university town just north of Detroit, will provide an off Broadway setting as skaters chase positive reviews from the judges and fans before stepping onto the Olympic stage at the Russian Black Sea resort in 11 months.

Competition begins on Wednesday and while no Olympic medals will be awarded this week the results will determine how many entries countries will get in Sochi for each of the four events; men's and women's singles, pairs and ice dance.

For top skaters like American ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the worlds represent a chance to enhance their reputation and perhaps gain a slight edge on chief rivals Olympic and world champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

"It will be helpful to be able to say we are the reigning world champions heading into the Olympic year, especially since Scott and Tessa are the reigning Olympic champions," Charlie White told Reuters. "It doesn't hurt to have two world titles instead of one going into the Olympics."

Davis and White and Virtue and Moir have dominated the ice dance scene taking the top two spots at the last three worlds and Vancouver Olympics.

While the Americans had to settle for silver behind the Canadians at the 2010 Winter Games and again at last year's world championships, Davis and White have had the better of their good friends this season finishing in first ahead of their training partners at the Grand Prix finals and Four Continents.

"Our goal will be to secure three Olympic spots for next year," declared Moir. "As a country you always want to send as many athletes and make as many Olympians as possible.

"Tess and I would obviously like to be on top and that would go along way to achieving that goal."


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