Davis, White take 1.92-point lead over Virtue, Moir
Americans going for fourth consecutive Grand Prix Final title; French lead battle for bronze
|Meryl Davis and Charlie White have their fourth career Grand Prix Final title within their grasp. (Getty Images)|
The Americans showed delicate precision and gentle power throughout their routine, earning Level 4s for a superb opening twizzle sequence as well as a speedy closing rotational lift.
Their remaining three elements, including both sections of their Yankee Polka, gained Level 3, and their 73.20 points set a new season's best. It is also the highest short dance score recorded this season.
"We both feel like this program was a big improvement for us over our first two competitions of the season, which is what we are aiming for," Davis said. "There is always room to improve so, yes, we can improve on our performance today [by] attacking the elements while maintaining that performance level.
Being at the Olympic venue for the first time, we wanted to take advantage of that opportunity and enjoy being in the rink while not getting too ahead of ourselves."
"You always want to be the leader," White said. "We are really just looking to improve. Worlds is our goal this year, becoming the world champions. This is a good stepping stone."
The standings are not a surprise, although Davis and White's winning margin over their Canadian rivals and training partners is a bit more than might have been expected. While the top two couples both won the short dances at their respective Grand Prix events this fall, Davis and White notched slightly higher scores.
Virtue and Moir, too, were near flawless in their short dance to Sir Anthony Hopkins' dreamlike "The Waltz Goes On." Like the Americans, they gained two Level 4s -- including a rare Level 4 for one of their Yankee Polka sections -- and three Level 3s for their elements. But the judges gave Davis and White the nod in grades of execution (GOEs) as well as a 0.79-point advantage in the program components score (PCS).
Still, Canada's Olympic champions earned a season's best 71.27 points.
"We made a couple of mistakes today; they could prove costly," Moir said. "[Level 3 on twizzles] is a bit surprising. We'll just have to see it again to find out what has happened there."
Costumed like a Toulouse-Lautrec painting come to life, world bronze medalists Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat evoked Moulin Rouge in their short dance, which built effectively to a fast closing can-can.
The French champions, who train at the Detroit Skating Club under a team headed by Pasquale Camerlengo, earned 68.70 for third place. It is just under their season's best score.
"We think it was one of the best [performances] we did since the beginning of this season," Péchalat said. "We feel good; we are doing clean edges, clean elements. Apparently, we did not have the key points in the second part of the polka, so we need to focus more on that."
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, the two-time Russian European champions who train under Alexander Zhulin in Moscow, skated a bright and entertaining program to polka and waltz rhythms. Their season-high 66.23 points put them fourth.
"We're satisfied with our performance. We already see technical progress, and results show this, too," Bobrova said. "Of course, we were nervous, but [the nerves] helped us. The audience supported us so warmly."
Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, sixth in the world last season, put out a charming program to polka and waltz tunes from the 1954 MGM musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and ended up fifth with 66.11.
Russians Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov are sixth with 63.56 points.