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World Skater Rankings: Shall we dance?

Virtue and Moir, Davis and White dominate discipline by huge margins

Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir danced their way to first in the world rankings.
Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir danced their way to first in the world rankings. (Getty Images)

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By icenetwork.com
(08/16/2012) - Icenetwork.com concludes its initial World Skater Rankings series with a look at the best dance couples, a field championed by Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

1. Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, Canada (3,680.50 points) -- The 2010 Olympic gold medalists have been in a friendly, seesaw battle with American training mates Meryl Davis and Charlie White for what seems like ages, and after a year of looking up, have found their way back to the dance zenith. Key victories at the Four Continents Championships and world championships were all the difference.

2. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, USA (3,654.50 points) -- Davis and White's dominant run, which included the gold at the 2011 World Championships, culminated with a decisive win at the Grand Prix Final. However, their luck changed at Four Continents and worlds, where they finished a close second on both occasions. They did, however, manage to defeat the Canadians at the World Team Trophy in April, and they'll be looking to oust their rivals again at the 2012 Grand Prix Final.

3. Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat, France (2,788.10 points) -- In Kuala Lumpur, the two Petronas Towers rule the skyline, dwarfing every other building. They are Virtue and Moir, and Davis and White, and nobody comes close to touching them. If you look lower, however, you'll see Péchalat and Bourzat leading the rest of the pack, fueled by a gutty triumph at the European championships and consistent bronze finishes at the Grand Prix Final and world championships. Whether they can rise to the level of their superiors remains to be seen, but this pharaoh-and-mummy combo has truly earned the third spot in these rankings.

4. Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, Russia (2,133.10 points) -- Bobrova and Soloviev sizzled at the Russian championships and gave Péchalat and Bourzat a real run for their money at Europeans, in addition to scoring a solid victory at Cup of China. They did not perform as well at the Grand Prix Final, however, where they finished sixth, and their seventh-place result at worlds marked a sour end to an otherwise prosperous season.

5. Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, USA (1,753.30 points) -- These highly likable, always eloquent siblings appeared on the verge of stardom after capturing bronze at 2011 worlds, but they took a little step back in 2011-12. Their season began superbly when they brought home silver at Cup of China and gold at NHK Trophy. Things started to turn at the Grand Prix Final, where they finished fifth, and they never quite got it going again after that. Look for the Shibs to try and rediscover their 2011 brilliance and return to the worlds podium with their Canton teammates once again.

6. Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, Canada (1,620.50 points) -- Now here's a duo to watch out for. Weaver and Poje made huge strides in 2011-12, registering second-place finishes at Skate Canada, NHK Trophy and Rostelecom Cup, but their real promise showed at the global contests: fourth at the Grand Prix Final, bronze at Four Continents, fourth at worlds. With new, modernized programs on tap for them in 2012-13, expect them to climb these rankings if they keep the same progression.

7. Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, Russia (1,185.54 points) -- These young Russians are making quite a name for themselves, cementing their spot among the elite with a Russian silver and a medal at Europeans. Landing in fifth at worlds was another message-sending achievement, as it put the figure skating universe on notice that they are a dance force to be reckoned with.

8. Victoria Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin, Russia (1,029 points) -- Simply put, Sinitsina and Zhiganshin were absolute masters of the junior dance circuit, and it wasn't even close. They won every competition they entered, including their two Junior Grand Prix events, the Junior Grand Prix Final, the Russian junior championships and ultimately, the world junior championships. How they will fare on the senior level is one of the great questions patrolling the minds of ice dancing fans worldwide.

9. Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, Italy (999.46 points) -- Before Cappellini and Lanotte could truly conquer the world stage, they had to take care of business at home -- which they did, winning the Italian championships for the first time. Though they didn't qualify for the Grand Prix Final, they put together impressive showings at Europeans -- where they just missed a medal in fourth -- and worlds, where they wound up a respectable sixth. They are one of several promising duos capable of making the world podium with a few forward strides.

10. Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi, Germany (975.94 points) -- Like Cappellini and Lanotte, Zhiganshina and Gazsi have proven to be the best ice dancers in their central European power. They have not performed as well internationally, however, as they wound up eighth at Europeans and 11th at worlds. Their goal for this season will be to bring home a Grand Prix medal and improve their place in the worlds standings.

11. Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko, Russia (975.94 points) -- The fourth-rated Russian team in the world rankings, Riazanova and Tkachenko were Russian bronze medalists and fifth-place finishers at Europeans. They also scored ninth at worlds, further proving that Russia's dance contingent is deep and extremely capable of making noise.

12. Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones, France (770.76 points) -- This French team heads up a lower tier of dance competitors. Carron and Jones performed well at Europeans, taking seventh, and they are clearly the second-best duo in France. They suffered a terrible disappointment at worlds, however, when they placed 21st in the short dance and didn't qualify for the free dance. They will look to erase that memory in 2012-13.

13. Xintong Huang and Xun Zheng, China (739.34 points) -- China's premier dance duo showed some flashes this past season, finishing a respectable 12th place at the world championships in Nice, France. They will need to do better than fifth at Cup of China and sixth at Trophée Eric Bompard, however, if they are truly going to put China on the ice dance map.

14. Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin, Russia (721 points) -- Yet another Russian couple, Stepanova and Bukin will have to claw their way up their nation's charts to even get the opportunity to be at the world championships. They were successful in capturing silver at the world junior championships, but they finished behind their countrymen, Sinitsina and Zhiganshin, a duo they will have to contend with to move up.

15. Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland, Great Britain (717.56 points) -- The reigning British champions also scored pretty well at Europeans, finishing sixth place on their home soil. After landing 14th at worlds, these proud cinephiles could script a Hollywood story for themselves by breaking the top 10 next season.

16. Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagniunas, Lithuania (621.56 points) -- Tobias and Stagniunas got off to a spectacular start, snagging bronze at Skate America, but they ended up ninth at Europeans and 18th overall at worlds. Now under the solo direction of Igor Shpilband in Novi, Mich., their future looks bright.

17. Madison Hubbell and Zach Donohue, USA (614.74 points) -- These flashy Americans sit in 17th place only because they haven't competed long enough, but they have performed far better than their standing indicates. Their most notable accomplishment was snatching the bronze at the U.S. championships, and their 10th-place finish at worlds was excellent for such an early couple. If they can remain among the American elite, they will skyrocket up the world rankings.

18. Ekaterina Pushkash and Jonathan Guerreiro, Russia (493.58 points) -- Pushkash and Guerreiro are also in Russia's crowded dance field. They managed sixth and seventh place at their two Grand Prix events and then fourth at the Russian championships. There's no denying they have talent, but they need access to more international competitions to make a sizable dent.

19. Xiaoyang Yu and Chen Wang, China (459.20 points) -- Yu and Wang are three-time Chinese champions with a long history of competing in the sport. Always dependable for a decent showing at Four Continents, they've been seventh or eighth place there in each of the last five seasons. They've shown a remarkable propensity for steadiness and should continue to perform at the same level as long as they choose to compete.

20. Ksenia Monko and Kirill Khaliavin, Russia (459.20 points) -- Monko and Khaliavin are a tricky team to measure. After a tremendous victory at the 2011 World Junior Championships, Khaliavin contracted mononucleosis before the 2011 Grand Prix Series started and they never got back on track. They are a wild card duo to watch in the future.