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Davis, White join top five with Skate Canada gold

Dance rankings see biggest changes in last week

Meryl Davis and Charlie White won all three segments en route to the gold medal at Skate Canada and moved up four spots in the rankings, to No. 5.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White won all three segments en route to the gold medal at Skate Canada and moved up four spots in the rankings, to No. 5. (Getty Images)

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By Todd Hinckley
(11/04/2008) - There were no new No. 1s in this week's icenetwork.com World Figure Skater Rankings, but the dance list saw a lot of fluctuation after Skate Canada last weekend in Ottawa.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the U.S. charged up four places to crack the ice dancing top five after winning their first Grand Prix gold medal. But they weren't the biggest movers in their own discipline. That honor belonged to Canada's Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, who moved up eight spots, to No. 11, following their silver-medal finish last week.

The singles rankings stayed fairly steady. The men's top five stayed exactly the same, despite Patrick Chan (No. 5) and Evan Lysacek (No. 3) making the podium in Ottawa. For the ladies, Joannie Rochette cracked the top five, thanks to her victory, and the other medalists made moves of their own.

Russia's Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov benefited from their gold medal at Skate Canada, moving up a spot to No. 3. The rest of the pairs held firm, for the most part.

Ladies

Rochette, Canada's four-time national champion, made a statement in front of her fans in Ottawa. She entered the week among the group of ladies trying to prove they could hang with the world's top two skaters -- Yu-Na Kim of South Korea and Mao Asada of Japan. Though neither Kim nor Asada was in the field in Ottawa, Rochette proved herself anyway, routing the field by 25 points with the help of a particularly impressive free skate. She set new personal bests in the short program, the free and overall that will compare favorably against the world's top competition. More performances like this will bring her closer to the sport's elite group and further away from the group of chasers that fill out the rest of the top 10.

The other medalists from Skate Canada made their own moves in the rankings. Veteran Fumie Suguri of Japan rose four spots, to No. 13, after finishing second. American Alissa Czisny was the surprise of the event last weekend, winning the bronze medal. That moved her into the rankings at No. 19.

1. Kim
2. Asada
3. Carolina Kostner -- The world silver medalist was the disappointment of the week in Ottawa. A seventh-place short program gave her little chance of making the podium. In that segment, she fell during back crosscuts on the entry to a double Axel, perhaps showing a lack of concentration. She'll need a rebound performance at the Cup of Russia later this month if she wants to hold her spot in the top five.
4. Rochette -- Her next test comes at the Trophée Eric Bompard in two weeks, where she'll face Asada.
5. Yukari Nakano
6. Kimmie Meissner
7. Miki Ando
8. Sarah Meier
9. Caroline Zhang -- The American teen performed well in Ottawa, particularly during her third-place short program. Her fifth-place finish kept her here at No. 9, but if she could return to the Grand Prix podium like last year, she could certainly move up.
10. Mirai Nagasu
11. Laura Lepistö
12. Rachael Flatt
13. Suguri -- The Japanese veteran had her best event in two years last weekend. Her offseason work with Nikolai Morozov seems to have revived her career. Her next appearance will be the Cup of Russia, where she'll again try to top her younger competition.
14. Julia Sebestyen
15. Mira Leung
16. Kiira Korpi
17. Ashley Wagner
18. Bebe Liang -- The American moved up one spot after finishing sixth at Skate Canada, but the quality of skating was not close to what she demonstrated in her 10th-place finish at the 2008 World Championships.
19. Czisny -- The 21-year-old American's Dr. Zhivago free skate finished second to Rochette, carrying the Ohio native to the bronze medal. She does not have another Grand Prix assignment, so, although her performance merits a spot on this list, she will struggle to maintain her position without getting a replacement invite to another event this fall. Nevertheless, it seems like she has gotten over the struggles from last year that dropped her to ninth place at the 2008 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
20. Susanna Pöykiö

Men

After Chan was nearly surpassed last week by Takahiko Kozuka's surprise gold medal at Skate America, the 17-year-old Canadian champion made a statement of his own. He took the gold, however, without winning either segment and was not able move up in the rankings, so the top five remained the same.

Lysacek perhaps missed a bigger opportunity. With his second straight bronze-medal finish, the two-time U.S. champion also held his spot in the rankings. He did not cushion his lead over his American rival, Johnny Weir (No. 4), and Chan is also now within breathing room. With both of his Grand Prix appearances in the rearview mirror and a berth in the Grand Prix Final unlikely, Lysacek will probably drop in the rankings before we see him on the ice again. Maybe the time will allow him to perfect his new programs, because his skating has so far not been up to par with what fans are used to from the two-time world bronze medalist.

Ryan Bradley, on the other hand, did take advantage of his opportunity, entering the rankings at No. 16. The 2007 U.S. silver medalist struggled most of the 2007-08 season, but he started strong this year. He has always been an entertaining performer, and he furthered that reputation in Ottawa. More importantly, both of his programs included a quadruple jump.

1. Brian Joubert
2. Daisuke Takahashi -- The Japanese star has withdrawn from this week's Cup of China due to a leg injury, so it is unclear when he will make his first appearance in 2008-09.
3. Lysacek
4. Weir
5. Chan -- The talented Canadian will defend his gold medal at the Trophée Bompard against Joubert.
6. Kozuka
7. Tomas Verner
8. Kevin van der Perren
9. Sergei Voronov -- The Russian champion moved up two spots this week, but it was not because of any brilliant work on the ice. He finished sixth at Skate Canada, giving him an unremarkable start to the 2008-09 season.
10. Stephen Carriere
11. Adam Rippon
12. Yannick Ponsero -- The Frenchman wowed the judges at Skate Canada with his "Ice 5" short program and earned bonus rankings points for winning the segment. Unfortunately, he did not jump up as far as he could have after dropping to fourth overall. Still, he did move up three spots.
13. Alban Préaubert
14. Brandon Mroz -- The 17-year-old American made a solid senior Grand Prix debut last week, finishing seventh and moving up two spots on this list. He did not look overwhelmed by the competition and even set career highs with his short program and overall score. That all bodes well for his future at this level.
15. Michal Brezina
16. Bradley -- The American fan favorite, entering the rankings for the first time this year, will skate next at the Trophée Bompard, where he'll face the tough task of duplicating his silver-medal finish from Skate Canada. His performance in Ottawa, though, was certainly deserving of a higher place on this list.
17. Sergei Davydov
18. Shawn Sawyer -- Like Ponsero, this Canadian was helped out by winning a segment at Skate Canada (he won the free skate). He entered the rankings despite finishing only fifth overall. With both Grand Prix assignments behind him though, his time in the top 20 could be short.
19. Kristoffer Berntsson
20. Jeremy Abbott

Pairs

Kawaguchi and Smirnov used their Skate Canada gold to slip past China's Qing Pang and Jian Tong by 0.13 rankings points. More importantly, by beating Canada's Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison and America's Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker on the ice, they avoided any other major shifts in the whole list.

Dubé and Davison grabbed the silver medal in Ottawa after winning the free skate, but they failed to open their season with the same bang they did a year ago when they upset Pang and Tong at Skate America.

For McLaughlin and Brubaker, they seemed a little tired by the end of the weekend after having competed in back-to-back weeks. They climbed one spot, up to No. 6, but their rise will probably stop there. They will not compete till the GP Final, if they qualify. With the bronze medal this past week, they failed to match the success from their initial Grand Prix Series (two silvers).

1. Aliona Savchenko / Robin Szolkowy
2. Dan Zhang / Hao Zhang
3. Kawaguchi / Smirnov -- The Russian duo will next perform in Moscow.
4. Pang / Tong
5. Dubé / Davison -- The Canadian pair will skate next at the NHK Trophy. They hope the layoff till then will not waste the momentum they earned with their strong free skate at Skate Canada.
6. McLaughlin / Brubaker -- The U.S. champions may not skate again till the 2009 U.S. Championships, but they performed admirably this year in the Grand Prix and deserve this spot in the rankings. A jump to the top of this list could be still to come.
7. Maria Mukhortova / Maxim Trankov
8. Ksenia Krasilnikova / Konstantin Bezmaternikh
9. Rena Inoue / John Baldwin
10. Tatiana Volosozhar / Stanislav Morozov
11. Anabelle Langlois / Cody Hay
12. Lubov Iliushechkina / Nodari Maisuradze
13. Stacey Kemp / David King
14. Adeline Canac / Maximin Coia
15. Tiffany Vise / Derek Trent -- The Americans were not able to land their signature throw quad Salchow in their free skate at Skate Canada, but their fifth-place finish moved them up three places anyway.
16. Brooke Castile / Ben Okolski -- The 2007 U.S. champions withdrew from this week's Cup of China due to an injury to Castile's heel, so their 2008-09 debut is still up in the air. They missed the entire Grand Prix Series last year and do not want to do that again.
17. Yue Zhang / Lei Wang
18. Meagan Duhamel / Craig Buntin
19. Jiaqi Li / Jiankun Xu
20. Laura Magitteri / Ondrej Hotarek

Ice Dancing

The results from Skate Canada shook up the dance standings more than any other discipline. Gold medalist Davis and White jumped four spots. Silver medalists Crone and Poirier doubled that, jumping eight places, and there were five other moves of more than three ranks.

It was a huge breakthrough for Davis and White, winning their first Grand Prix gold medal. They were not the highest-ranked team in the field (that distinction went to France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat), but the Americans won all three segments to cruise to victory. They hope this is a sign of big things to come, possibly including an upset of five-time defending U.S. champions Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto at the U.S. championships in January.

At the bottom of the rankings, there were several large drops. Alexandra Zaretski and Roman Zaretski, Madison Hubbell and Keiffer Hubbell and Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein all lost four places while not skating this past week. The Zaretski siblings should make up for this soon when they compete in the Grand Prix, but the other two teams, both junior pairs, will continue to drop until the Junior Grand Prix Final.

1. Isabelle Delobel / Olivier Schoenfelder
2. Belbin / Agosto
3. Oksana Domnina / Maxim Shabalin
4. Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir
5. Davis / White -- The young Americans will compete next at the Cup of Russia, where they will square off with Russia's best -- Domnina and Shabalin and Jana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski.
6. Khokhlova / Novitski
7. Pechalat / Bourzat -- The French team won bronze at Skate Canada, a disappointing finish for the highest-ranked team entering the event. A sixth-place original dance was specifically to blame for their poor result.
8. Federica Faiella / Massimo Scali
9. Emily Samuelson / Evan Bates
10. Sinead Kerr / John Kerr
11. Crone / Poirier -- The young Canadian team finished second in the original and free dances in Ottawa, vaulting them to the silver medal. This was the kind of breakthrough performance they've been waiting for, showing that they're just as ready to compete at the senior level as their rivals from the junior ranks -- Samuelson and Bates.
12. Anna Cappellini / Luca Lanotte
13. Kimberly Navarro / Brent Bommentre -- The U.S. bronze medalists moved up three places this week after their fifth-place finish in Canada. They dropped a spot in each program, though, and were slightly disappointed with their final placement.
14. Pernelle Carron / Mathieu Jost
15. Kristina Gorshkova / Vitali Butikov -- The Russians finished fourth at Skate Canada, thanks in large part to a second-place original dance, and moved up three spots in the rankings. It was a very promising Senior Grand Prix debut for the 2008 world junior bronze medalists, proving they are not too far behind their recent junior peers -- Samuelson and Bates and Crone and Poirier.
16. Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev -- This Russian tandem finished sixth in Ottawa, moving them up one spot. The 2007 world junior champions looked much sloppier than the more recent graduates from the junior ranks and will need to perform better if they want to hold this spot in the rankings.
17. Zaretski / Zaretski
18. Hubbell / Hubbell
19. Chock / Zuerlein
20. Ekaterina Rubleva and Ivan Shefer