In an Olympic short-dance event that seemed to be all about the twizzles – who twizzled twizzlingly, who spun them (a definite no-no) and who was out of twizzle sync, the bottom line was the same old story for the Canadians.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White stand first going into the long program. Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic gold medallists, stand second, more than two and a half points behind.
The Canadians were picture perfect during a program that had the wonderful basso tones of the great Louis Armstrong in it – so much so that the expressive Moir went off to do a short interpretative dance of his own after the final pose.
The score of 76.33 points. was a little off their season best of 77.59. But it was significantly better than their score of 72.98 in the team event even if they did not, as they expected, get Level 4 marks for their step sequences.
In fact, it was better than the 75.98 Davis and White (who had owned the top five all-time scores in the short program) scored in the team event.
"We just felt more relaxed today. We tried to stay loose, stay calm, but not overdo it," Virtue told the CBC afterwards. "The tendency at the Olympic games is to overexpress, overthink things. It's a hard thing to do to overthink less, but we managed to do it."
But then, came the final skaters of the night, Davis and White.
The reigning world champions merely set a new world record with 78.89 points for their short program, a nice cushion over the Canadians going into the long program Monday night.
— Elvis Stojko (@Therealestojko) February 16, 2014
The twizzles were an issue. But not for Virtue and Moir, after they had a big issue with them in the team short program.
American skater Madison Chock twizzled unsuccessfully. So did the Azerbaijani Julia Zlobina. It's about twizzling them and not spinning them, you see. The British team of Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland had twizzle sync problems. Weaver and Poje had twizzle speed consistency issues.
Other notable highlights
Olympic debut: The Canadian team of Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam made their Olympic debut ... and immediately messed up on those darn twizzles. They were not happy. But they did score well enough to make the cut for the long program, which is 20 teams. They stand 18th.
Canadian skating legend and Yahoo expert analyst Elvis Stojko made everyone feel instantly old by chiming in with this on Twitter:
A story in two installments: The German pair of Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi have a theme. As CBC skating analyst Carol Lane put it, it's "a high-society lady meeting a book-loving nerd, and letting him dance with her.” Gazsi looked and dressed the part, with his receding hairline, librarian's vest and horn-rimmed glasses. Even better: it's a series. Part two, where the nerd hopefully will get the girl, comes in the long program.
The Pink Panther returns: You thought Germans Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szokolwy had a patent on the Kaopectate-hued outfit and Inspector Clouseau thing? Clearly they forgot to trademark it. The team from Azerbaijan, Zlobina and Alexei Sitnikov, took it and ran with it in the ice dance, with Sitnikov added a Clouseau-like hint of a moustache for added realism.
Quote of the skate: From CBC analyst Carol Lane, about Russian team Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, the European silver-medallists. "Interesting choice, when you're dressed as a flapper, to skate to music about the troubles of coal miners. But I guess it meant something to somebody." Despite that, they got huge scores, Charlestoning right by the No. 1 Russian pair.