Jan 10, 2014, 4:26 PM EDT
Meryl Davis and Charlie White began what’s expected to be a record-breaking weekend with the highest short dance score in U.S. Championships history on Friday.
Davis and White posted 80.69 points for a 7.28-point lead over a hopeless field at TD Garden in Boston. They’re on pace to earn their sixth straight national title on Saturday, breaking a tie with four past couples who won five championships.
“I think that today we really reached a comfort level with this program that we haven’t achieved in competition so far,” Davis told reporters. “We feel really confident.”
The reigning world champions who haven’t lost anywhere in almost two years put up a fast-paced but flowing dance to “My Fair Lady.”
Davis and White could plunge in the free dance Saturday and still be named to the U.S. Olympic Team, which will include three couples overall.
The two next highest couples in the standings are expected to join Davis and White in Sochi. After the short program, that would be Madison Chock and 2010 Olympian Evan Bates and siblings Alex and Maia Shibutani.
Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis have been the top U.S. ice dancers behind Davis and White this season.
Chock and Bates posted a personal-best 73.41 points for second place. Bates finished 11th at the 2010 Olympics with partner Emily Samuelson, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in September 2010 and changed partners to Chock in summer 2011.
They were second at the 2013 U.S. Championships behind Davis and White and won two bronze medals in international Grand Prix events this season.
Chock skated with sore shoulders after taking a hard fall in practice Thursday, crashing into the boards.
“Our coach just said, ‘Skate to win,'” Bates said. “He wants us to be pushing upwards toward Meryl and Charlie.”
The Shibutanis, who have skated together for 10 years, scored 68 points after struggling on twizzles during a jazzy dance to Michael Buble.
The affectionately known ShibSibs are the 2011 world bronze medalists and haven’t finished lower than third in their three senior-level U.S. Championships appearances.
“It definitely wasn’t our best,” Alex said. “We left some points out there.”
The top couple looking to move into the top three Saturday will be Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, who placed fourth and third at the last two U.S. Championships. They’re 1.31 points behind the Shibutanis.
1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White — 80.69
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 73.41
3. Alex Shibutani/Maia Shibutani — 68.00
4. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 66.69
5. Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton — 63.71
6. Lynn Kriengkrairut/Logan Giulietti-Schmitt — 61.22
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Kipsang also provided his plan for racing the rest of the year.
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Russia ceded its place as top challenger to the U.S. in recent Olympics.
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