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Davis and White shatter records in dance triumph

Americans stave off archrival Canadians Virtue and Moir

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White have now won three straight Grand Prix Finals.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White have now won three straight Grand Prix Finals. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(12/11/2011) - Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the first face-off of the season with archrivals and training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, taking gold home from the Grand Prix Final for the third consecutive year.

The three-time U.S. champions set a new world record for both a free dance score, 112.38 points, and total score, 188.55. It is their second victory in a row over Canada's Olympic gold medalists; they also triumphed at the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow.

Although the Americans squeaked out a 0.05-point advantage in Sunday afternoon's free dance, the title may have been won Friday, when Moir took a rare tumble during the Latin American short dance and Davis and White opened up a 5.16-point lead.

Every fraction counts, every time the two teams from Canton, Mich. hit the ice.

"The closeness of the points drives us," Davis said. "Having Scott and Tessa there right next to us pushes us that much more."

"Of course we want to get all Level 4's, but we also want to get plus-3 GOE's (Grades of Execution) across the board and lots of speed," White said. "Making it as impressive as possible is really what we aim for. If I have to spin until I lift off of the ice [in the rotational spin], then that's what I will do."

French European champions Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat won the battle for bronze over Canadian silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. U.S. World bronze medalists Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani were fifth, with Russian champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev sixth. The top five all skated to season-best scores.

The duel of Davis and White's "Die Fledermaus" and Virtue and Moir's Funny Face comes down to breezy sophistication versus joyous elegance, and with both teams at their peak, it seems nearly impossible to pick a winner. Virtue and Moir gained Level 4 for all of their eight elements Sunday and narrowly won the technical element score (TES), but the Americans took the program components (PCS) by a slightly larger margin.

"We're excited to bounce back [from the short dance] with a great skate today," Moir said. "It was definitely a season's best and every element felt strong overall.

"It's not where we wanted to finish in this competition. We are honest in our goals, and people can see we came up a little short, but it's a good start to the season. Now we'll go home and try to find out where we can make up points."

Later, talking to reporters after the post-event press conference, Moir made it clear he thought they had done enough to win the free dance.

"It's a [...]-off," he said. "It's a bitter pill for us to have to swallow."

Péchalat and Bourzat's Egyptian-themed free dance, The Pharaoh and the Mummy, lacked the romantic spark and personal connection of Weaver and Poje's Je Suis Malade, but the French team edged the Canadians in program components and won bronze by 3.62 points overall.

"It is getting better and better each time [out] and there is still have room for improvement," Bourzat said. "We have our national championships next week, but the main goal for us is the European Championships [in January]. We have to keep up our physical condition to [make this] program easier and to perform it with more energy."

Making their first appearance in the Grand Prix Final, the Shibutani siblings flew over the ice to Glenn Miller selections including "Moonlight Serenade" and "Chattanooga Choo Choo." The free dance featured a matchless three-part twizzle sequence and effective lifts, and they finished with 160.55 points.

"We've done a lot of hard work in order to improve everything about our programs," Maia said. "We're really happy because within this competition, we see a big increase in our levels. That shows that we are going in the right direction."