2014 Nationals articles

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Davis And White Make History On Road To Sochi

Meryl Davis and Charlie White await their free dance score at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 11, 2014 in Boston.
BOSTON – Meryl Davis and Charlie White have had a career full of firsts so it came to no one's surprise when they became the first ice dance team to win a sixth U.S. title in, once again, record-setting fashion.
Davis and White brought the packed house at TD Garden to its feet Saturday evening as they skated a free dance that earned a 119.50 — more than a point higher than the previous U.S. record, which they set at last year’s U.S. championships. The score was, essentially, a perfect score. It was the highest number they could have achieved for their program, set to Nikoli Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Scheherazade.”
Meryl Davis and Charlie White perform their free dance at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 11, 2014 in Boston.
The 2010 Olympic silver medalists started the competition by set a U.S. record in Friday night’s short dance when they earned 80.69 points, and also bested the previous total score by nearly three points with a cumulative score of 200.19.
Davis and White joined five other U.S. ice dance teams who have five titles to their name when they won last year’s championship, but their sixth win puts them in a league of their own.
“It’s such an honor for us; not only because it’s something we’ve worked hard to accomplish, but I think we feel there’s such greatness in American ice dance in the building,” Davis said. “Liz Punsalan is coaching here. Tanith Belbin is doing commentary. Ben Agosto is here. With all of those American ice dancing greats being here, it really feels like a collective effort and we feel proud to be a part of it.”
Belbin and Agosto earned silver at the Torino 2006 Olympic Winter Games, giving Team USA its first ever Olympic silver medal in ice dance, and its first ice dance medal in 30 years.
“We’re really fortunate that we had Tanith and Ben breaking the mold for us,” White said after the short dance. “Getting that 2006 Olympic silver, personally, made it feel like it would be possible for us. They paved the way for all of us."
While Davis and White both credited Belbin and Agosto’s historic ice dance silver medal with enabling them to succeed, Belbin, who has been at the U.S. championships this week as a commentator for icenetwork, made it clear that her accomplishments in the sport do not match up with the legacy Davis and White have created.
“It’s hard for me to compare where we were to where these guys are because it’s not even the same sport anymore,” Belbin said. “I think all the time when I’m doing my commentary that if I were out there I would be not even in the top half. It’s just unbelievable where dance has come.
“I think it’s going to take us some time to step away from Meryl and Charlie’s career and really understand what they were able to accomplish for the U.S. because I think we’re so used to having them here and having them as champions, and once they retire there’s going to be a hole in hearts, not in the depth of ice dance — that’s going to be fine, we saw that today.”
Following Davis and White — and helping prove just how strong the U.S. has become in ice dance — were Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who earned silver, and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who took bronze.
It was a repeat of last year’s U.S. championships podium, and all three teams are expected to be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team thanks to their success both at nationals and on the international circuit. Davis and White won both grand prix competitions they entered, while Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis both earned double bronze medals in their two grand prix assignments this season.
Davis and White will go to the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games with the most to lose — or gain. Since taking silver in Vancouver four years ago to training mates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, Davis and White have gone on to win the United States its first world title in ice dance in 2011 — and then repeated that feat two years later. Last month, the Michigan natives earned a record fifth consecutive Grand Prix Final title, solidifying their spot atop the world. The next step is to achieve their longtime goal of Olympic gold.
Only this time, they will have two shots at gold. Davis and White have made it clear since the International Olympic Committee first announced figure skating’s team event would debut in Sochi that they have every intention of earning a spot on the U.S. team and helping Team USA medal in that event. Davis and White contributed to Team USA’s gold medal at the 2013 World Team Trophy, an event with a similar format to the Olympic team event.
“We’ve made it very clear that we’d be interested in doing both portions of the team event,” White said. “For us having another opportunity to compete at the Olympics is amazing in and of itself, and America is certainly poised to be in the hunt for a medal in the team event. We’re excited to hopefully be part of that team and do our best for our teammates.”
Davis and White’s coach of 12 years, Marina Zoueva, noted that their programs have grown stronger and stronger with each performance this season, and she thinks competing in the team event can only help them prepare for the ice dance competition one week later.

Gold the goal for Meryl Davis and Charlie White

BOSTON – For most of their careers, Meryl Davis and Charlie White preferred to focus on performances rather than placements.
As the ice dancers head to the Sochi Olympics, however, the only goal is gold.
"Obviously we're going into these games with very high expectations," White said Sunday after he and Davis were named to their second Olympic team. "We've had lot of great moments over the last four years and we feel we've put ourselves in a really great position to come home with gold medal.
"So that's what we're going to try to do."
The United States has never won an Olympic gold in ice dance. In fact, until about a decade ago, simply finishing in the top 10 was cause for celebration.
But as the sport has evolved and the judging become more objective, the Americans have emerged as a powerhouse. Davis and White's silver medal in Vancouver was the second straight for a U.S. dance team, and in 2011 they became the first Americans to win a world title in dance.
They won a second title last spring.
"It's hard to say from an outsider's perspective what would make someone a favorite," White said. "For us, it feels great knowing that we've been able to build on each performance. It certainly gives us confidence."
Davis and White's rivals for gold will be defending Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who also train with the Americans. The teams have traded the top two spots on the podium since Vancouver, though Davis and White have taken an edge lately. They've won the last four meetings with Virtue and Moir, including last month's Grand Prix final.
The Americans' run of success is largely due to their improved performance quality. Once known for their speed, power and athletic lifts, Davis and White now have the emotional and artistic command that transforms athletic programs into works of art.
Their short dance, to music from "My Fair Lady," is so whimsical they appear to be dancing in a ballroom rather than on a sheet of ice. Their free dance, to "Scheherazade," is as powerful as any symphony.
"It's really important for us to show range, which we've really been trying to do over the last four years," Davis said. "Had we tried to perform these particular programs four years ago, I don't think we would have been able to do them justice."
Now that they can, though, they know gold is within their reach.
"We've worked hard to achieve what we've achieved so far," White said. "We certainly want that in the back of everyone's head as we're taking that final skate. But we know that we have to make our programs at the Olympics count, as if there was nothing else in the world."

Meryl Davis, Charlie White win record 6th U.S. title

BOSTON – The beauty of a Meryl Davis and Charlie White performance tends to mask the sheer athleticism of their innovative lifts and intricate footwork.
As the audience gets lost in their story, it's easy to forget that their dance shoes are a steel blade and their stage is a sheet of ice.
Saturday night was no different, as Davis and White transfixed the crowd, winning a record sixth national title. Skating to "Scheherazade" by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, a piece they chose with Sochi in mind, the most accomplished couple in American figure skating history can now focus on the one prize that has eluded them: Olympic gold.
"We're going to enjoy this moment before hunkering down for the Olympics," White said.
Their score of 200.19 was a personal best and nearly 19 points ahead of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who finished second, followed by the sister-and-brother team of Maia and Alex Shibutani, known as the "ShibSibs." The USA will send three dance teams to Sochi, with Davis and White the U.S. team's best chance for gold.
The battle for Olympic gold is expected to come down to Davis and White and Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who train at the same rink. The Canadians won gold at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics; the Americans took the silver.
For the last four years, they have alternated major titles. Virtue and Moir won in 2010, followed by Davis in White (the first world title for a U.S. ice dance team) then Virtue and Moir in 2012 and Davis and White in 2013.
Davis and White have spent more than half their lives together, grown up on the ice together and have reach unprecedented heights together. Now, just one more goal remains.
For their free skate, Davis assumed the role of Scheherazade, the wife of a sultan who marries a new woman every day after having the previous day's wife beheaded. Scheherazade manages to persuade the sultan to kick the habit, by telling him spellbinding stories that allow her to live another day.
Davis and White race across the ice with the speed of a short tracker, the result of a training regimen that would wobble most knees. "We kick our butts every day on the ice and off the ice," White said. "Everyone has it in them, and luckily we have had coaches who can get it out of us."
Their latest milestone is significant, given their dominance the last six years at nationals. "I'm really proud of our consistency because that's what it takes," Davis said. "We've been lucky to be injury-free too."
At that point, Davis reached down and knocked on the closest thing to wood – a metal gate. "Yeah, thanks Meryl," he said. And then the couple was whisked off to the medal ceremony, as yet another gold medal was placed around their necks.

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Associated Press

Meryl Davis and Charlie White shine at figure skating championships

By Rachel Cohen, The Associated PressBOSTON  — World champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White are well on their way to a record sixth straight ice dance national title.

Davis and White broke their own record with 80.69 points Friday in the short dance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships, more than seven points ahead of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, last year's runners-up.

Skating to selections from “My Fair Lady,” Davis and White got a standing ovation when it was over.

“This is the first time we felt comfortable enough to let things happen naturally,” Davis said. “This is the fifth time we're competing the program. With this program, it's all about being comfortable enough to let things happen naturally, and when you reach a point where it can be just fun, that's what we really enjoy about skating.”

On the final lift, they spun across the ice in a dizzying blur with the tails of White's tuxedo flying behind, and she could look up to the crowd with eyes glowing.
Coach Marina Zoueva had wanted them to skate to this music for several years.
“As we have grown with the program, we feel in love with the program and what it means ... that exuberant joy,” Davis said.
Chock and Bates posted a career-high 73.41, well above their 70.80 a year ago but still far behind Davis and White. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani were third with 68.00 in a repeat of the final standings in 2013. The top three teams make the Olympics. The free dance is Saturday.
When the final notes of “There's No Business Like Show Business” ended, Bates barked out, “Let's go.”
Their coach told them before they took the ice, “Skate to win.”
“That's good advice,” Bates said.
A U.S. silver medal is a major victory with the way Davis and White have recently dominated the sport.


Davis and White transform their sport

Skaters so skilled their blades dissolve into a pure picture of dance

By Philip Hersh, Tribune reporter
4:38 PM CST, January 10, 2014

BOSTON – There was a moment midway through their short dance Friday afternoon at the U.S. Championships when you forgot Meryl Davis and Charlie White were on skates.
That is exactly the illusion they were trying to create.  Their ability to do it is what separates them by miles from every other ice dance team in the United States and makes them the favorites for the gold medal at next month’s Winter Olympics.
They were performing to “I Could Have Danced All Night” from My Fair Lady, which set the mood.  They had just finished an intricate step sequence, in which they moved separately but in unison the length of the TD Garden rink.
Then White put his arm around Davis’ waist, and they began to dance.
Really dance, not just try to look like dancers on skates.
It made you wish they could have done it all afternoon and night, but there were still some other technical elements to show off before their nearly three minutes on the ice ended.
Of course the reigning world champions easily won the short dance, and only illness or injury will keep them from a record sixth national title after Saturday’s free dance.  For the record, they scored 80.69 to 73.41 for Madison Chock and Evan Bates and 68 for Maia and Alex Shibutani.
Skating by the numbers no longer is the reference point for the two University of Michigan students.
What Davis and White were able to do in some 20 exquisite seconds Friday brought them to that point where sport blends seamlessly into theater, athleticism into art.
``That part has really evolved as the season has gone on, step-wise, choreographically-wise,” Davis said.  “We feel it’s a great place to show the dance.  We are not rushing into an element or having to worry about something that is coming up.  We can really enjoy it.
``I’m glad that stood out to you, because that is really what we were trying for.’’
After refining the program through hours of practice and using it to win the Grand Prix Final and two regular-season Grand Prix events last fall, the 2010 Olympic silver medalists have mastered the technical matters to the degree where they can feel like Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins in the wee hours of the morning - and express that.
``I think we have been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for the technical aspect,’’ Davis said.  ``We finally reached a comfort level where we can really focus on having fun with the program.’’
White feels dealing with that personalized pressure has accustomed them to the idea they are counted on for what could be the only U.S. figure skating medal – other than the new team event – at next month’s Winter Olympics.
Asked about the pressure, White first deadpanned, ``It’s just like insomnia.  You never go to sleep.’’
``Because we have always placed pressure on ourselves, it has been sort of a healthy progression to this point,” he continued.  “We recognize the pressure from the outside but we expect more than anyone expects from us.’’
When they do visualization with a sports psychologist, the one image that never comes up is winning an Olympic gold medal.
``That is what we try to avoid,” Davis said.  ``We try to focus on what we can put on the ice in our performance.’’
Friday, it was a performance that briefly, wonderfully, turned that ice into a ballroom floor.


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