Bronze for Davis and White at World Junior Championshipsby Jyrki Pirkkalainen, Special to U.S. Figure Skating Online
|Meryl Davis and Charlie White|
Photo by Michelle Harvath
(3/10/06) - The U.S. medal streak at the World Junior Championships continued Friday as Meryl Davis & Charlie White won the bronze medal in ice dancing. Their free dance was ranked second best, and they moved up from fourth to third overall.
“We couldn't have asked for a better program today,” White said. “Since we were fourth we had nothing to lose. We gave it everything we had; we couldn't hold back, and it worked.”
The Michigan-based couple skated to “Sarabande” by Händel. Their 2004-05 season was cut short because after he broke his ankle before the 2005 State Farm U.S. Championships.
“We've had this program for two years now, and this was the last competition with this music,” Davis said.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were unstoppable in every phase of the competition, and they are taking the gold medal back to Canada.
“Earlier today when I saw Scott coming out of the elevator I knew it would be a good day,” Virtue said. “There was some chemistry going on right away.”
“What we performed today was exactly what we wanted to do,” Moir added. “We felt comfortable out there.”
Silver medalists Natalia Mikhailova and Arkadi Sergeev from Russia had some problems with their twizzles and received a –1 point deduction on an extended lift.
“We are pleased that we could cope with our nerves because we skated first in the warm-up group,” Mikhailova said.
Trina Pratt & Todd Gilles (Colorado Springs, Colo.) continued their upwards journey in each stage of the competition – seventh in the compulsory, sixth in the original and finally fifth in the free dance. In the overall results they were sixth.
“Basically I'm relieved now that it's over,” Gilles said. “We are kind of thinking of keeping this free dance (“House of Flying Daggers” and “Kodo Drums”), but we would also like to try something new.”
Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates (Ann Arbor, Mich.) were a bit shaky on their first twizzles but skated well otherwise to finish 10th with 134.16 points. Samuelson and Bates' music was “Electric Samurai” by Tomoyasu Hotei.
“We have never done this kind of an intense free dance before,” Samuelson said. “Last year we did Latin and the year before that disco.”
It has been the longest season ever for the couple.
“We have never competed until March before,” Bates said.Men's Short Program
In the men's short program, it was the triple Axel that proved once again to be the decisive element defining the skaters' ranking. Last year's silver medalist Yannick Ponsero of France was the only skater to combine his with a triple toe, and he found himself at the top of the list.
His main rival, Russia's Alexander Uspenski, was planning to do the same, but he fell on his Axel, losing six points in the element score and another point as a deduction for a fall, and he dropped straight into 12th place. He was tied with Ponsero on the component scores though - way above the rest of the field.
“This is the second year that I'm in first place in the short program, and this time I want to stay in this position,” Ponsero said.
Japan's Takahiko Kozuka turned out of his triple Axel and added only a double toe, while Patrick Chan of Canada opted for a clean program with a double Axel. They are currently in second and third.
None of the U.S. skaters has the triple Axel in their short program repertoire yet, and without that jump it's hard to battle for top placements in the short. The American trio are in sixth, 10th and 14th going into Saturday's free skate.
Stephen Carriere landed a double Axel, a triple flip–triple toe combination and a solo triple Lutz that was slightly two-footed.
“It was the best short program I've skated all season so far,” he said.
In the free skate, he plans to do the same jump content as he did in his winning performance on Wednesday.
“I definitely think I can do better than in the qualifying round,” he said.
Geoffry Varner and Daisuke Murakami both tumbled on their triple-triple combinations but skated well otherwise. Varner was able to avoid a fall by putting a hand down, but Murakami got a deduction for a fall. Both said that their triple-triple is usually an easy element for them.
“I hope to be in the last warm-up group tomorrow so I don't have to get up early,” Varner said after his skate but added that the start number doesn't make a big difference. “Yesterday I saw Nana Takeda (Japan), and she came from 16th place up to fourth.”
Murakami hopes mirror his U.S. Championships performance where he pulled up from 10th after the short to fourth.
“This is my first big international competition, and I was nervous,” he said.
Murakami also got the honor to be the U.S. representative in the post-event press conference: he volunteered as a Japanese-English interpreter for Kozuka. Murakami moved from Japan to the United States when he was 9, and he speaks both languages fluently.