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Davis, White seek supremacy in London, beyond

Healthy and still having fun, the couple may compete past 2014

Meryl Davis and Charlie White's <i>Notre Dame de Paris</i> free dance has been a hit all season.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White's Notre Dame de Paris free dance has been a hit all season. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(03/14/2013) - After Meryl Davis and Charlie White placed second to Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at the 2012 World Figure Skating Championships, they didn't spend much time licking their wounds. They just set their sights on recapturing the world title.

At the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, this week, they think they are ready.

"We've been training incredibly hard," Davis said after a Tuesday practice session. "This season, we've trained harder than we have ever trained before, and we have a history of training really hard."

"We're really looking to win," she continued. "We feel strong. We feel excited about what we are putting out on the ice. We're looking not only for the reward in terms of results; we really want to make an impact on the audience. So we're aiming pretty high, whether for a season or a competition these days."

Thus far this season, the five-time U.S. champions, who won the world title in 2011, have won all five events they have entered. They defeated their Canadian training partners in the teams' two head-to-head battles: at the Grand Prix Final in Sochi, Russia, in December; and at the 2013 Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in Osaka, Japan, last month.

The Americans' refined, yet dramatic, free dance, set to music from Notre Dame de Paris, has consistently earned higher scores than Virtue and Moir's lustier Carmen. Their season's best score is 112.68 (also an all-time personal best), some 3.48 points higher than the Canadians'. But pre-worlds' numbers don't always tell much of a tale: Last year, the Americans thought they had a winning free dance in Die Fledermaus, and it ended up second.

White thinks things will be different in London.

"Every day in practice, we find a little something here or there, one more little push we can do, just so at worlds we can leave it all out on the ice," he said. "As far as our free dance, I think it's the most we've ever seen a program improve over the course of a season, which is fantastic considering we started with it [at a high level]. We feel like it has a lot of momentum, and we just want to keep building it throughout this competition."

Both say that competing in Virtue and Moir's hometown doesn't enter into the equation.

"I don't really feel like we're at a disadvantage," White said back in January. "We've competed against Scott and Tessa in Canada a couple of times; we've beaten them a few times, and they've beaten us a few times. At this point in our career, we're sort of past worrying about that kind of thing."

With the moment upon them, they still feel that way.

"We're getting great receptions at our practices," White said.

"There are so many reasons for us to feel comfortable here," Davis said. "The crowd is so welcoming and friendly. [London] is close to Detroit, and we'll have a lot of friends and family in the crowd as well. Also, my dad's mom's side of the family is from London, so a lot of my dad's family will be able to drive over to watch."

Conventional wisdom is that whichever team wins gold this week will have a leg up on the Olympic title in Sochi next year. Davis and White don't argue that point.

"I don't think it would hurt," the two say with a unison perfected over 10 years of skating together.

"But we're not looking at it as, 'Let's win this worlds, so we can win the Olympics,'" White said. "It's more, 'Let's win this worlds, because we want to make this another special year.'"

Conventional wisdom also holds that the top two ice dance teams will retire following the Olympic season, but Davis and White -- just 26 and 25, respectively, and injury free -- say that may not be the case.

"Honestly, we take it year by year, and we're feeling better than ever," Davis said, and then added, "We're having more fun now than we've ever had, which is an awesome feeling."

"We're not thinking, 'Man, I could be done by now,'" White said. "We're really enjoying the moment, and that has made each season special, and our partnership special. We can't make any guarantees; we take it year by year, and we have to stay healthy. We'll just see where we go."