Today’s free dance competition at the 2013 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships had something for everyone, and although medals were awarded, the real winner was the audience.
As each story unfolded in front of an ample crowd at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, the crowd became more involved. In the end, it was Meryl Davis and Charlie White who danced away with the title—a record-tying fifth—with the highest free dance score in U.S. Championships history.
“We were really pleased with our skate. We felt great out there,” White said. “We were excited to be able to perform it. We put a lot of effort into it since the Grand Prix Final to try to make it even more special. I think we accomplished that today in our performance.”
“You know us; we’re never really satisfied,” he continued. “We are looking forward to Four Continents and another great competition, and we’re going to keep trying to improve. It was a great crowd, a great moment, and we are really happy with winning these five championships. It’s really special.”
The 2011 World Champions were as perfect as a team could be, earning four out of five perfect scores for program components and level four for each element. Davis, 26, and White, 25, performed with passion and precision in their Notre-Dame de Paris program, outperforming the silver medalists by more than 21 points. They earned 118.42 points in the free skate and 197.44 points overall.
“Coming to the U.S. Championships is a good time and there’s always a positive energy,” Davis shared. “It’s such an honor to come here. I think being able to perform really well pushes us to put out a better performance and we are honored to get the results that we did.”
Madison Chock, 20, and Evan Bates, 23, held their position after the short dance to capture their first medals together as a team—silver. Fifth a year ago, the duo performed a captivating program to music from the film Doctor Zhivago.
“We were very happy with our performance and it’s been such a great season,” Chock said. “We have been working very hard and we hope to keep getting better and better from here.”
The team—the lone American hold out in Igor Shpilband’s camp after the highly publicized Shpilband-Marina Zoueva split in the off-season, seemed to benefit from the personal attention. Save for a level three on the circular steps, Chock and Bates earned level four in each of their other elements. They scored 105.11 points in the free dance and 175.91 overall.
Finishing in third were two-time U.S. silver medalists, Maia Shibutani, 18, and Alex Shibutani, 21, who performed a sophisticated program to the music from the soundtrack of Memoirs of a Geisha.
“We are proud of our skates this week. It’s been a long season, but we are happy to continue on to the second half of the season,” the elder Shibutani explained. “We are overall happy and proud of each other.”
Like the silver medalists, Shibutani and Shibutani earned level four for each of their elements save one—in this case, the diagonal step sequence. The 2011 Worlds bronze medalists earned 104.58 points in the free dance, and 174.21 overall.
Winning the pewter medals were Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, last year’s bronze medalists. The duo scored 100.11 points for their fiery Flamenco program, and 167.86 points overall.
“I think that we did a strong performance,” Hubbell said. “After yesterday, we skated well, but maybe weren’t in the spot we wanted. There are a lot of really good teams in the top, so we felt a lot of pressure today. We thought we were using it to our advantage, all of those nerves, so we’re happy with what we did.”
Lynn Kriengkrairut, 24, and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, 27, finished in fifth place, with a sassy program to the music of Adele. They earned 95.32 points in the free dance and 160.01 points overall.
“We’ve felt that we have had a lot of support throughout the year,” Giulietti-Schmitt said. “The crowd was great and seemed to really enjoy our pieces. That is why we like doing more modern pieces because we think it relates to the audience better.”
The top three teams have been named to both the upcoming Four Continents and World Championships.