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Davis, White unruffled by Grand Prix Final kerfuffle

No changes to short or free dance; training still on even keel in Canton

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are not concerned about the Grand Prix Final controversy.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are not concerned about the Grand Prix Final controversy. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(01/13/2012) - As they head into the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championship in San Jose later this month, Meryl Davis and Charlie White are sticking with their tried-and-true approach: daily run-throughs, with the focus on improving their connection on the ice.

"There's really no trick," White said on a teleconference with reporters Tuesday. "Repetition makes everything come easy and natural. A lot of what we do isn't easy, but we have to make it look easy."

The world champions have won their last nine events and are odds-on favorites to take their fourth consecutive U.S. ice dance title. While no one's looking past the U.S. Championships, thoughts naturally shift to upcoming matchups with their training partners, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

The Americans have won their last three meetings against the Canadian Olympic champions, including the 2011 ISU Four Continents Championships, where Virtue and Moir withdrew during the free dance. But last month's Grand Prix Final in Quebec was unique: Not only was the scoring flawed -- had a combination lift in the free dance been correctly valued, the Canadians would have ranked first in that section by 0.45 points -- but cracks in the Canton teams' friendly rivalry showed.

"It's a [...]-off," Moir said after the free dance press conference. "That's as blunt as I can be. We felt like we laid down a good skate, and in our opinion it was a good enough skate to win ... It's tough to get beat artistically [on program components] when we felt like we're the best artistic dance team in the last five years."

Among those less than pleased with Moir's remarks was Igor Shpilband, who with Marina Zoueva coaches both teams in Canton, Mich.

"We are always trying to make the skaters not focus on the judging and what's happening with scores," Shpilband said. "In my experience in teaching, I have seen a lot of things that, in my opinion, judges were fair or not fair. It's the nature of the sport; it's a subjective sport. We always try to make skaters focus on what they could have done better, to make sure [a loss is] not going to happen next time."

Despite the increasingly close nature of the rivalry, White counts their status as training partners a plus.

"Scott has a little bit of a history of off-the-cuff remarks, and we were able to make light of it and it wasn't a big deal," he said. "To put everything you have out there and feel like there was nothing else you can do, of course you want to win. Do I think he wishes he hadn't said that? I do think that. But I think we have a great understanding.

"Perhaps if we trained at different rinks and we didn't know each other, it would be a bigger deal. But because we're really close, I could understand what he said ... It's a little unfair of the media to just get that peek at that moment and kind of judge everything off of that. But I think going forward, I don't think [those kind of remarks are] going to be happening."

Shpilband, too, thinks it will be smooth sailing going forward.

"We just try to give them equally what they need, to give the best to each team," he said. "They feel that we are not holding anything back and we are doing everything equal, for all of them. In my opinion, that helps. They are all just great kids and they are getting along well, which helps, too."