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Davis, White overcome fall to win gold

Crone, Poirier take second; Shibutanis earn bronze

Meryl Davis and Charlie White are among the top teams competing in Beijing.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are among the top teams competing in Beijing. (Getty Images)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(11/14/2010) - A double fall couldn't stop Meryl Davis and Charlie White from their first Skate America title by 7.68 points.

It was the second win of the season for the U.S. champions, who also triumphed at NHK Trophy.

Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier, winners of Skate Canada earlier this season, also had a fall but took silver. U.S. junior champions Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani continued their successful transition to the senior ranks by winning their second bronze of the season.

Performing a hastily re-tooled Tango free dance, the Olympic and world silver medalists took their lumps but were happy with the speed, fluidity and emotion of their program.

"Obviously, it was not our best ever; we had the fall, and I put my foot down on the circle steps, but we were really going for expression and attack," White said.

"At NHK Trophy, we played it a little safe; we were not as prepared as we wanted to be. That's still the case; we're not as prepared as we would like, but we didn't want to leave the ice and say we didn't put it all out there."

After a compelling opening, including Level 4 straight line and curve lifts and superb twizzles, the trouble came on what White called "a little drape thing," where he held Davis over his knees.

"We got a little bit far away from each other, and you can't do that, apparently," he said.

The team lost points on their spin, which gained just Level 2, as well as their diagonal steps, when White put a foot down. They earned 93.00 points for their Tango, about five points less than at NHK, and tallied 156.68 overall.

"Going forward, we have some work to do obviously, but we love this program and our short dance," Davis said.

"We feel that [with the changes] the program has better balance. The last two weeks we've been working [to] make it more aesthetically pleasing as a whole...for us performing it, and hopefully for those watching, it seems a little more natural."

Crone and Poirier's "Eleanor Rigby," choreographed by Christopher Dean, also had its troubles. Poirier seemed to lose concentration for a moment, slipping and hitting the ice on a transition step.

"We started off really strong, although we had a little bobble at the halfway point," Crone said. "Other than that, we improved our levels over Skate Canada."

The team, who train in Scarborough, Ontario, under Carol and Jon Lane and Juris Razguliaevs, did earn just Level 2 on their serpentine steps.

"We're going to have to go home and look at the video; I don't know what happened there," Crone said.

"We have a lot of time to work, make improvements before Canadian nationals," Poirier said. "That's our biggest goal this season, to skate well at nationals. Today was just a small loss in concentration, a slip in the middle of the program; otherwise it felt better and stronger."

It was a second consecutive bronze for the Shibutani siblings, who also took third place at NHK.

The young team gained one of the best crowd responses of the event with their frothy convection of a Foxtrot to "Smile" and Quickstep to "Let's Face the Music and Dance." They also showed the most impressive twizzle sequence, a series of the three, just one of six Level 4 elements.

The Shibutanis placed third in the free dance with 88.35 and ended the event with 144.81.

"[Twizzles] have always been one of our favorite elements, so it made sense to add the third [set], to get an added feature [for Level 4]," Maia Shibutani said.

"They really have some of the best twizzles in the world, so we wanted to show them off," said Marina Zoueva, who with Igor Shpilband coaches Davis and White, and the Shibutani siblings, in Canton, Mich.

"From now on, from here through to U.S. nationals, we will be working on [adding] more power, power, power on the ice. How we do that is a professional secret."

Canadian bronze medalists Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, third after the short dance, lost ground in their entertaining Moulin Rouge free dance when their rotational lift dropped to Level 1. They also gained a one-point deduction for an extended lift, and finished fourth in the free and fourth overall with 142.34.

"I missed [grasping] my foot; I didn't catch my blade," Weaver said. "Once you do that, it's over. All you can do is look pretty."

Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt placed sixth in the free dance and sixth overall with 130.72. The team has six Level 4 elements in their Samson and Delilah routine.

"We're definitely pleased with how the program is progressing," Giuletti-Schmitt said. "Now we're going to go home and work hard for nationals. Our biggest goal is to be on the podium there."