White, Davis win U.S. ice-dance title

Meryl Davis and Charlie White pose on the podium after winning first place in ice dance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Meryl Davis and Charlie White pose on the podium after winning first place in ice dance at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 in Boston. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (AP)
Posted: January 13, 2014

BOSTON - The row of perfect-10 artistry scores they'd just accumulated were visible on an adjacent TV as Charlie White mentioned to reporters that he and Meryl Davis were "lucky to be injury-free."

The phrase animated Davis, who instantly dipped deeply as if performing one final element of the spectacular free-skate that won the ice-dancing duo a sixth national title Saturday at these 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

The superstitious White merely was reaching to knock on a wood railing. Ill fortune, after all, may be the only thing capable of derailing this formidable pair's gold-medal ambitions.

America's best hope for figure-skating gold at next month's Winter Olympics, Davis and White ran away from their competition here to reach the record title total for U.S. ice dancers.

"We didn't think much about [capturing a sixth title] coming in," said White. "That's always the way we approach things."

Davis and White compiled a personal-best total of 200.19 points, nearly 19 points better than second-place finishers Madison Chock and Evan Bates (181.44). Third place went to the brother-sister team of Maia and Alex Sbibutani (170.44). Three dance teams will be named Sunday to represent the United States at Sochi.

Davis and White's long program, to the haunting music of Scherhezade, displayed two skaters who, in their 17th year as a team, are at a peak. The reigning world champions performed a challenging program with grace, athleticism, and surprising stamina.

"We work our butts off on and off the ice," said White of the physical flurry concluding their performance. "We have a great physical trainer, but a big part of it is mental. Everyone has it in them, but we're lucky that we have coaches who get it out of us."

If their two performances here at TD Garden were any indication, their confidence has reached a point where they now expect flawless routines.

"We're really proud of our consistency, and that's what it takes," said White. "We've been lucky to be injury-free, which is another big part of it. We worked our butts off, and we are definitely going to enjoy this moment."

Meanwhile, mismatched physically but wonderfully complementary on the ice, 4-foot-11 Marissa Castelli and 6-4 Simon Shnapir defended their national pairs title earlier.

The leaders after the short program, the Boston-based duo needed some of its six-point cushion to overcome an early fall by Castelli.

"We didn't skate like we had to," said Castelli, who appeared crestfallen when she left the ice, "but that six-point lead we had after the short program turned out to be really important for us."

Despite the third-best free-skate score, their total of 205.71 was enough to hold off the runners-up, Felicia Zhang and Newtown native Nathan Bartholomay (201.72).

Caydee Denney and John Coughlin finished third despite collecting the top score in the five-minute free-skate.

"We're on Cloud Nine," said Bartholomay. "But we know we're not locked in [to an Olympic spot]."

Though selectors aren't bound by the standings, the top two finishers likely will be the two American pairs next month in Sochi. The identity of the U.S. team will be revealed here Sunday.

These championship end with Sunday afternoon's men's free-skate.

Jeremy Abbott of Detroit set himself up for a fourth national title by amassing a short-program lead of almost eight points Friday in what was forecast to be a wide-open men's competition.


ffitzpatrick@phillynews.com

@philafitz

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