SAN JOSE, Calif. — When Meryl Davis and Charlie White are around, everyone else is fighting for second place.
The world champions left no doubt they are the gold standard in ice dance these days, routing the competition on their way to a fourth straight title at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday. Their final score of 191.54 points was nearly 13 points ahead of siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, who aren't exactly slouches as the reigning world bronze medalists.
They were so dominant, their free dance score — 114.65 points — was higher than three couples' total scores. Davis and White are now one title shy of matching the U.S. record for dance crowns, shared by five teams.
Davis and White haven't been beaten since finishing second to Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada at the 2010 world championships, and their title at last year's worlds was the first ever for a U.S. dance team. Keep skating this way, and the Canadians are going to have to do something pretty spectacular to catch them.
Skating to "Die Fledermaus," Davis and White transported the audience back to 19th century Vienna, when grand balls were the height of fashion. You could practically see the parquet floor filled with elegant ladies and refined gentlemen in their beautiful costumes, a crystal chandelier twinkling overhead.
Davis and White had such a big lead — 4.28 points after the short dance — and are so far ahead of everyone else in the United States that they simply could have stroked around the rink and probably still won. But the duo put on a show worthy of their status as world champions.
Unlike so many other couples, whose programs are a series of elements needing to be checked off, Davis and White skate as ice dance was meant to be done. One element flows right into another, the entire program a seamless performance. The lean of their bodies was matched perfectly and their edge quality is magnificent, carving deep, crisp patterns into the ice that look like a piece of art.
Their speed was breathtaking and their lifts innovative — she was in the full splits during the rotational lift, when he is spinning like a whirling dervish.
Even their mistakes were impressive. White got a little wobbly on their first set of twizzles — traveling spins — yet not only managed to hang on, but stayed in unison with Davis.
The audience was so delighted with the program they were clapping along midway through.
The Shibutanis train with Davis-White and Virtue-Moir in the Detroit area, but they have a style all their own. Their big band medley was lively and fun, and filled with deceptively difficult skills. Their twizzles are a sight to behold, done in perfect unison and with blinding speed.
But the Shibutanis, who also were runners-up last year, are not in Davis and White's class. Not yet, at least.
Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were a distant third.
The women's free skate is later Saturday.
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