by Katerina Tetzloff & Daphne Backman | Photos by Melanie Hoyt
After an entire year of hard work and dedication, the World Figure Skating Championships in London, Ontario, Canada, came to an exciting close in the packed Budweiser Gardens on Saturday afternoon.
With a combined score of 189.56, five-time U.S. national champions Meryl Davis & Charlie White took home the ice dancing gold in London, their rivals’ hometown. Achieving level 4s on every element except for the two step sequences, which both received level 3s, and receiving multiple 10s in program components, Davis & White scored 112.44 in the free dance event. They finish this competitive season unbeaten.
“The season was great,” Davis said. “We approached it in and of itself, and that has been an asset to our career. We have worked really hard and are very happy.”
A number of teams received level 3 for their step sequences, the highest level awarded for that element by the technical panel during the free dance. No team performed a level 4 step sequence, according to the panel, accounting for a few scores that were a touch below expectations for the end of the year.
Always Davis & White’s toughest competition, Canada’s Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, skated first in the final group and finished in second place with a total score of 185.04. Like the short dance, the GOEs and PCS gave the slight advantage to their American training mates. For their free dance, Virtue & Moir skated a modern interpretation of “Carmen,” which scored 111.17, the highest marks they have received this season.
“We wanted to do something different, wanted to be innovative,” Moir explained. “We held nothing back in both performances.”
“It’s the best we skated this year,” Virtue added.
Russia’s Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev finished fourth in the free dance, but on the strength of their short dance placement, they finished in third place overall. The bronze was their first World Championships medal. Their free dance music from “Once Upon A Time in the West” by Ennio Morricone and Giacomo Puccini’s “Tosca” received all level 4s for their elements, except for their step sequences that were both called level 2. Bobrova & Soloviev have undergone a transformation in both their skating and their costuming after moving to train with Alexander Zhulin. Prior to their bronze medal win, their highest finish at the World Championships was sixth in 2011.
“It is an incredible, indescribable feeling,” Soloviev said. “Europeans and Worlds are completely different competitions. It is a different level; there are different competitors. We have worked very hard for this and we want to thank everybody who supported us and believed in us that we can achieve high placements at World Championships.”
Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte of Italy, who were sixth in 2012, also skated to “Carmen,” albeit with a more traditional interpretation. They placed third in the free dance — winning the small bronze medal for the free dance — but ended up fourth overall. The luck of the draw saw the Italians skating immediately after Virtue & Moir, creating a mini battle of the ice dance “Carmens.”
“It was a big challenge going on after Tessa and Scott with the same music,” Cappellini said. “We didn’t want to look weak compared to them, so we had to work even harder. We are honored to be here and appreciate this experience.”
Finishing in fifth were Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje of Canada who, once again, were thrilled with their performance in their home country. Weaver & Poje’s placement combined with Virtue & Moir’s also guarantees Canada three spots in the upcoming Olympics.
“I wish we could just freeze this moment in time,” said Weaver. “All our hard work — me being in the physio, Andrew skating by himself for two months — now came together. That’s just incredible.”
“This season was a true test for the strength of our character and for us as a team,” Poje added. “It showed us that no matter the circumstances, we are able to go back and work.”
Last year’s bronze medalists, France’s Nathalie Péchalat & Fabian Bourzat, skated last in the competition. With Bourzat still nursing the injury that kept them from defending their European Championship, their Rolling Stones free dance was a bit rough. Although they earned no negative GOE and a sprinkling of +3s, their levels were just not up to the other top teams. While their four lifts all earned level 4s, the spin and twizzles were level 3s and both footwork sequences were level 2s. They also were dinged for an extended lift. Péchalat & Bourzat placed seventh in the free dance and sixth overall.
Madison Chock & Evan Bates of the United States had a memorable week, this being their first time at the World Championships as a team. They achieved a new season’s best score of 97.19, landing them in sixth place in the free dance and seventh overall. Their “Dr. Zhivago” program was extremely clean, with three base 0 GOE being the lowest of the 72 marks given.
“We achieved the goals we set for ourselves for Worlds,” Bates said. “Next we learn the Finnstep, pick our music and prepare for training camp. Our goal for next year is the Olympics.”
Their teammates, Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani, came right behind them in eighth overall with a total of 157.71. Their 91.57-point free dance to music from “Memoirs of a Geisha” received level 4s on all elements, except for the step sequences which were graded level 2. Like their American teammates, they did not receive a single negative GOE.
“We are happy; it was a great way to end the season,” Alex said. “We were really looking to perform our [free dance], one last time.”
Despite a 10th-place free dance, European silver medalists Elena Ilinkykh & Nikita Katsalapov ended in ninth overall and helped secure three spots for Russia for the Sochi Olympics. An uneven performance to the Broadway musical “Ghost” saw levels from 1 through 4, with negative GOE on their level 2 spin.
“We were very disappointed after the short dance” Ilinykh said. “Unfortunately, [in the free dance] the mistakes added up, first the lift, then the spin. It is a big disappointment. But it was very exciting and energizing to compete in this group. We can feed off this kind of strong competition.”
Wrapping up the top ten were Germany’s Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi, receiving a cumulative score of 154.27. Their Zombie free dance was ranked eighth of the afternoon with 93.68. Not only was their program extremely creative and artistic and earned some 9s in PCS, but also technically sound, with level 3 footwork sequences and level 4 on the remaining elements. This top-10 finish allots Germany two spots in Sochi for the Olympic Games.
“It was the best for last,” Gazsi said. “It’s also a bit sad that we are done with this free program now. We hope everyone liked it. After being eleventh in the short dance we were very motivated for the free. We really want to be top ten and get the second spot for Germany for the next year.”
Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain, who were in 10th after the short dance, made major errors in their 17th-place free dance and finished 13th overall. Unfortunately, this means that only one dance team may represent Great Britain in Sochi.
Rounding out the secured spots for the Olympics are Ukraine, Lithuania, and Azerbaijan. The remaining five slots will be filled at Nebelhorn Trophy this autumn.