Olympic silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White continued their streak of winning titles on the Grand Prix in Portland, Ore., today, winning the first Skate America of their career. The duo outdistanced Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier by more than seven points, but had some technical errors that marred an otherwise strong performance.
“Obviously it wasn’t our best skate ever,” White said with his usual flair. “We had the fall and I had a mistake on the circular steps, but we were really going for expression. After NHK, we played it a little bit safe because we weren’t as prepared as we would like to be. That’s still the case, but we didn’t want to leave the ice and leave anything out there.”
With the win, Davis and White have claimed a spot in December’s Grand Prix Final in Beijing, China, and hope to make massive improvements to their tango freeskate as the season progresses.
“We knew that we had some things that we had to fix heading into this season,” Davis said. “We knew it wasn’t exactly where we wanted it to be in terms of balance, but we knew that we weren’t going to have time until after NHK to fix the problems. The last two weeks we have been looking at the program, taking a step back, and try to fix those things. As the season progresses, we hope that it continues to grow and continues to look more natural.”
The Canadians had troubles of their own in their Eleanor Rigby free dance, with Poirier falling on a transitional move in the middle of the program.
“These things happen to everyone,” Poirier admitted. “I think that you lose focus, or something isn’t in exactly the right position, and you slip. That’s just part of the sport, and as nice as it would have been to have a clean performance here, I think that it’s nice that I did it here so that I can be careful about that step in future competitions.”
Crone and Poirier chose to skate to music that Davis and White used just a few seasons ago, but have decidedly taken a different direction in terms of choreography.
“Meryl and Charlie’s program was very character driven, but I think we wanted to take a more lyrical approach to our skating,” Crone explained. “It’s just to get a different feel and get ourselves into more of a creative mode, and push ourselves in a different way instead of listening to the music and doing what it tells you.”
Their total score of 149.08 points is much lower than their total in winning Skate Canada, but the Canadian silver medalists weren’t overly concerned.
“I definitely feel more confident in each performance that we do,” Crone confessed. “The first time we stepped on the ice with this program until now has been a huge improvement, and I think that it is going in the right direction.”
With the silver medal, Crone and Poirier will join Davis and White in Beijing next month, and will compete in their second consecutive Grand Prix Final.
Moving up from fourth place after the short dance to win the bronze medal are Americans Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani who skated a classic ballroom program with style and grace.
“We just love our program this year, I don’t know what else to say,” Maia gushed after they finished skating. “It’s just so much fun to skate everyday.”
Brother Alex agreed. “It’s us. It’s classic dance, and we’re trying to bring that across to the ice, and share the enjoyment that we have skating together with everyone else.”
The Shibutanis did three sets of twizzles in their twizzles level four sequence, and earned all but two level fours in their program.
“We’ve just been working hard on all of the elements- our power and such. Our twizzles are just another one of those elements,” Maia explained.
Finishing just off the podium in fourth place are Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Canada, who won the silver medal at the NHK Trophy earlier in the season.
“We made a mistake on the rotational lift, and though we’ve been practicing it a lot, it’s just one of those fluky things that happens,” Poje explained.
Weaver then added: “I didn’t grab my blade and bring it up to my head which is required for the level. I lost it as we took the lift up, and once you lose it, you can’t do anything but try to look pretty. That’s what we tried to do, and I’m proud that we kept going and stayed strong throughout the rest of the performance.”
Both the Shibutanis and Weaver and Poje have to play the waiting game now to see if either team qualifies for the Grand Prix Final in Beijing. Weaver and Poje have the edge over the Americans due to their silver medals, but both teams will have to wait until the Grand Prix events end in two weeks to learn their fate.
Russians Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko remained in fifth place after the free dance, while Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Guilietti-Schmitt finished in sixth place.