Dec 7, 2013, 5:12 AM EDT
A world record to overcome and the Grand Prix Final gold medal on the line, American ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White rose to the occasion Saturday in Fukuoka, Japan.
Skating after rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir had delivered a brilliant free dance to give them a highest-ever overall score, 190.00, Davis/White were flawless in their own free dance, edging out their training partners – literally – by just over a point, with a 191.35.
The win gave Davis/White their 15th straight Grand Prix gold medal, a record in the sport and a streak that dates back to the 2008 season and includes five straight Grand Prix Final wins.
“It’s such an amazing feeling knowing that you put everything into it,” a smiling White told the crowd.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France were third, rallying from fifth place with a 169.11.
The win solidifies Davis/White, the 2011 and 2013 world champions, as the favorites heading into the Olympics four years after Virtue/Moir beat them at the Vancouver Games for the gold medal.
“We’re going to work harder than ever,” Davis said. “We’re really excited … the Olympics is the pinnacle of sport and we want to put our best skates forward.”
The favorites couldn’t hold on in the pairs competition, however, with reigning world champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov of Russia giving up a three-point lead after the short program and losing out to Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy, the 2012 world champions.
It was the first time Savchenko/Szolkowy had beaten the Russian duo, who had been dominant throughout the Grand Prix season and owned the best scores by over 25 points, since the 2012 World Championships.
The loss puts a dent in Volosozhar/Trankov’s formerly impenatrable front-runner status heading into the Olympic Games, though they’re still considered the favorites.
After Savchenko/Szolkowy recorded a personal-best overall score of 227.03, Volosozhar failed to deliver in the final skate of the afternoon, falling on a triple Salchow near the start of the program and then putting her hand down after a triple toe, failing to complete a planned combination.
Those mistakes were enough to vault Savchenko/Szolkowy to their fourth-ever Grand Prix Final gold medal and first since 2011, Volosozhar/Trankov finishing with a 223.83.
“We are really happy,” Szolkowy, 34, said rinkside. “It’s a big surprise for us, but wow, we made it.”
“We will try our best to prepare our best for the Olympics,” he added. “It’s two months from now, so we’ll just keep working, working, working.”
The Germans were bronze medalists at the Vancouver Games.
The silver medalists from the 2010 Olympics, Pang Qing and Tong Jian secured the bronze medal in pairs, the 2010 world champions becoming just the fifth team to score over 200 points this season with a 213.98.
Savchenko/Szolkowy began and ended with big throws: a throw triple flip to start and then a throw triple Salchow to finish. The Germans did not try a throw triple Axel, which Savchenko fell hard on two weeks ago at the Grand Prix of Russia.
Ice dance – Final results
1. Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA) 191.35
2. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (CAN) 190.00
3. Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (FRA) 169.11
4. Yekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) 166.72
5. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje (CAN) 165.04
6. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (ITA) 156.58
Pairs – Final results
1. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy (GER) 227.03
2. Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov (RUS) 223.83
3. Pang Qing and Tong Jian (CHN) 213.98
4. Peng Cheng and Zhang Hao (CHN) 197.37
5. Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford (CAN) 193.38
6. Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) 189.11
— U.S. Figure Skating (@USFigureSkating) December 7, 2013
— Nick McCarvel (@NickMcCarvel) December 7, 2013
Apr 23, 2014, 8:34 PM EDT
Lochte said he almost didn’t come back to swimming after knee injury.
Apr 23, 2014, 6:33 PM EDT
Phelps says he gained 30 pounds in retirement but has shed most of it in training.
Apr 23, 2014, 5:42 PM EDT
Phelps’ contract with Speedo ran out at the end of 2013 after a 12-year run.
Apr 23, 2014, 2:18 PM EDT
Michael Andrew, 15, turned pro last year and has been drawing comparisons to Michael Phelps.
Apr 23, 2014, 11:10 AM EDT
When to watch Michael Phelps’ return to competition.
Apr 22, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
How Keflezighi spent the morning after his upset victory.
Apr 22, 2014, 1:57 PM EDT
Americans’ tactic played small role in Keflezighi’s victory.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:39 AM EDT
Sochi figure skating analysts will be fashion experts at Churchill Downs.
Apr 22, 2014, 10:11 AM EDT
Ohno follows NFL wide receiver, celebrity chef in ambitious attempt.
Apr 22, 2014, 8:21 AM EDT
Johan Bruyneel guided Lance Armstrong’s teams for all seven stripped Tour de France wins.
Apr 21, 2014, 8:42 PM EDT
“I needed it for healing,” one survivor said.
Apr 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
First U.S. man to win Boston Marathon since 1983.
Apr 21, 2014, 1:21 PM EDT
Meb Keflezighi made history on an emotional day at the 2014 Boston Marathon by becoming the first American man to win the race since 1983. Watch highlights of the 38-year-old Keflezighi’s victory here, courtesy of Universal Sports: Keflezighi reacts to his historic win and the emotion of winning one year after the Boston Marathon bombing,…
Apr 21, 2014, 11:54 AM EDT
Shalane Flanagan led early but was dropped around 21 miles.
Apr 21, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Paralympic champion prevails one month after winning silver in Sochi.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
Double the police presence from last year.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:38 AM EDT
Former linebacker ran in 2012 and saw the first bomb from a hotel last year.
Apr 21, 2014, 9:07 AM EDT
Race starts by honoring those lost and those who saved at last year’s race.
Apr 19, 2014, 12:10 PM EDT
Watch every runner cross the finish line on Monday.
Apr 19, 2014, 11:41 AM EDT
Two-time Olympian hasn’t run a marathon since the London Games.
- Michael Phelps ready to start ‘journey’ in comeback meet 0
- Another Michael set to make splash at Mesa Grand Prix 0
- Michael Phelps’ comeback at Mesa Grand Prix competition, broadcast schedules 0
- Ryan Hall, other U.S. runners wouldn’t help East Africans catch Meb Keflezighi 0
- Emotions flow for runners, spectators at Boston Marathon 0
- Meb Keflezighi stuns to win Boston Marathon (video) 4
- Rita Jeptoo repeats as Boston Marathon winner in course record 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (55)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (46)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (38)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)