An emotional Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir during their sterling free dance Monday night. (AP/Darron Cummings)
Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir went out in their ice dance long program and set a new record for points.
After two Russian pairs brought down the hometown house, their great American rivals Meryl Davis and Charlie went out ... and shattered it, winning the first-ever gold medal in ice dance for the U.S.
They haven't lost a competition since 2012; that streak continues. Virtue and Moir, as they have every time they've gone head-to-head with their rivals and training mates the last few years, settled for the silver.
Davis and White were aggressive and brave in their decision to go toe-to-toe with the far more elegant Canadians on common turf.
Both skated to classical Russian music; the Canadians chose the piano-based Alexander Glazunov: elegant, understated, quiet and stunning, with Virtue dressed in an understated (for ice dance) dusty rose dress. The Americans chose a more tummy-revealing, louder lilac, harem-style dress. They also selected more aggressive music, the violins of Rimsky-Korsakov.
They were brilliant. As they always are. And the result made it clear that whatever Virtue and Moir did, the Americans were always going to win if they skated their best.
That's exactly what they did. In fact, going into the long program with a 2 1/2-point lead, they extended that by a further two points.
The folks at Skate Canada went a little overboard about the silver.
— Skate Canada (@SkateCanada) February 17, 2014
The second Canadian team of Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje came up with their finest skate of the season, skating their tango into the second-to-last flight. They didn't quite match the season-best scores they put up at Skate Canada (there's always a little hometown flava to those), but it was top class. They ended up seventh overall - fifth in the free skate, ahead of some very good teams.
"I never got out of the trance they put me in the very beginning. There was NO way you wanted to disturb them," analyst Kurt Browning said.
Meanwhile, the judging questions for Virtue and Moir will probably continue. But people are trying awfully hard because, in the end, the choice of Virtue-Moir or Davis-White really comes down to country, or personal preference on their style.
The debate will centre around the "Finnstep" footwork. But as this story points out, the judges have always given the American pair higher marks for those, even if many thought they didn't perform them well in the short program.
The man who invented, it, Finnish former skater Petri Kokko, thought the Canadians did it much better Sunday night.
— Petri Kokko (@coccco) February 16, 2014
It's not really a productive debate, though. Both teams are brilliant; in the end, it's really a matter of which teams the judges like better. It would be interesting to really explore the reasons why, but they have spoken loudly, on more than one occasion.
The Sochi Olympics, in the end, ran true to form.
Kokko, who had criticized the Americans in the short, was one with the judging panel after the long program.
Congratulations Davis & White for a gorgeous free and well deserved Olympic gold medal. Simply breathtaking! #Sochi2014
— Petri Kokko (@coccco) February 17, 2014
Perhaps, in the end, it's some sort of tit-for-tat karmic figure skating payback for the long-held perception that no matter what he does, if he skates well, Canadian Patrick Chan will win – regardless of what his opponents may do. Of course, he didn't do that in the men's long program.
Highlights and lowlights
Olympic debut: Canadians Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam's first victory was to make the final 20 for the long dance in their Olympic debut. They skated well, finishing the event where they started the long program, 18th.
The Michael Jackson conundrum: Not one, but two teams decided a Michael Jackson medley was the way to go: the American brother and sister team of Maia and Alex Shibutani, and the British pair of Coomes and Buckland.
The American team, getting negative feedback about using the song "Ben" (which is about a boy's love for his pet rat, after all) in the middle, substituted "Man in the Mirror". That's music even Michael Jackson never danced to. All in all, we'd rather have seen the Gloved one himself.
Old-school story telling: Remember the old ice dance? When the skaters were less concerned with levels on the twizzles and Finnsteps and went right out there to actually tell a story? Sometimes it was sublime, as with the great Torvill and Dean. Other times it was, well, interesting, as with Canadians Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon. But they had some great moments, and they've passed that along to the young Spanish pair of Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz, whom they've trained in Montreal for the last two years.
The Spanish pair of Sara Hurtado and Adria Diaz painted a Picasso in the ice dance long program. (CANADIAN PRESS/Paul …
The Spaniards told the story of countryman Pablo Picasso and muse. And it was truly well done.
But did he get the girl?: The long program from Germans Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi was part two of their story of the society girl and the nerdy guy, begun in their short program.
Did the dork get the lady? Tune in for the replay, if you didn't see it. Or catch the webcast.
Stop clowning around: The outfit most emblematic of what ice dance can be at its worst came from the Australian pair of and Danielle O'Brien and Gregory Merriman.
Danielle O'Brien and Gregory Merriman of Australia were a little over the top with their big-top number.(AP/Bernat …
Guess the theme: As soon as Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy skated onto the ice, you pretty much new what their program would be. The funniest part is that this pair found each other on the E-Harmony or Lavalife of skating, a website where single ice-dance partners go to find an (on-ice) hookup.
Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri of Italy surprise no one with their music choices, with this outfit. (AP/Ivan …
- Ice Skating
- Sports & Recreation
- Meryl Davis
- Petri Kokko