by Katerina Tetzloff & Daphne Backman | Photos by Melanie Hoyt
After an exciting short dance event, the United States’ Meryl Davis & Charlie White (pictured, right) are in the lead with a score of 77.12, a new personal best and a new world record.
”We are really pleased, it was our best performance yet,” Davis said. “We had a good time. We appreciated the audience support.”
Davis & White’s short dance performance appeared effortless and included four level 4 elements, including sequence 2 of their Yankee Polka. Sequence 1 garnered a level 3. Virtue & Moir, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, Ukraine’s Siobhan Heekin-Canedy & Dmitri Dun, and France’s Pernelle Carron & Lloyd Jones were the only teams to earn level 4 on both patterns of the Yankee Polka.
Their friends and training mates, Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir of Canada (pictured, left), are in second with 73.87. The gap between these two gold medal contenders was not predicted to be this large; however a bobble in Virtue’s first twizzle and a midline step sequence which only earned a level three caused in this lower-than-usual score.
“Technically, we left some marks on the board,” Moir said. “It was a strong skate all in all. I think in the twizzles we cover a lot of ice, and if you do the tiniest little mistake you have to fight for it.”
Despite the mistakes, the team enjoyed performing in their hometown.
“It was an amazing feeling,” Virtue said. “We knew it would be exciting and it gave us goose bumps, and we had to remind ourselves to bring it in and to focus on our job.”
Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitry Soloviev of Russia are currently sitting in third, with France’s Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat a fraction of a point behind them in fourth. While this result was not necessarily expected, the Russian national champions won their first European Championships in January.
“We gave our best performance as the marks prove,” Soloviev said. “We are very pleased to be in top shape for the most important competition of the season.”
While both teams received the same base value for their elements, the difference in GOE was .14 in favor of Bobrova & Soloviev. The Russians also received slightly higher PCS (.26).
Pechalat & Bourzat were forced to miss the European Championships due to injury, but picked up a season’s best for their cheeky short dance to Can Can music by Jacques Offenbach and Yves Montand.
“We are happy with our performance today,” Pechalat said. “Given the preparation that we had, it was really good.”
”It has been two months since our last competition and we picked up high levels and got really good points,” Bourzat added.
The Italian national champions, Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, are sitting in fifth place, less than two points behind the French, with slightly lower marks in the GOEs and PCS being the difference. Cappellini & Lanotte will skate in the final free dance group for the first time in their careers, building on momentum they have been building this season.
“After doing so well at Europeans, we feel our goal of this season was achieved,” Cappellini said. “We are having a great season, and we are on the right track.”
“We had a strong plan going on the ice and tried to sell it 120%,” Lanotte added. “The Canadian audience is always so comforting and welcoming. It feels like they are included in our dance. They are great!”
Just .34 behind the Italians in sixth, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje really felt the support of their fellow Canadians in the audience and had the skate of their lives. This performance was especially exciting for them since Weaver has been off the ice for months due to a broken fibula that required surgery and months in a cast and on crutches.
“For me, thinking of not being able to come here was even worse than the injury itself,” Weaver said. “I was emotional even before they announced our names. And this is such an accomplishment. It is incredible if you think that we just had two weeks of hard training and made it a season’s best today.”
Madison Chock & Evan Bates and Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani from the United States came in seventh and eighth, respectively, with 66.74 and 66.14. In ninth (66.07) are the Russian silver medalists, Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov. Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain scored a season’s best and are less than 2.5 behind the Russians. A tenth place finish would earn two spots for their country, not only for the 2014 World Championships, but for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi as well.
Ekaterina Riazanova & Ilia Tkachenko, also of Russia, were only given a level one on the second half of their Yankee Polka, placing them in a lower-than-expected 13th, but they were still happy with their accomplishment. Piper Gilles & Paul Poirier of Canada ended the short dance in 15th place, despite what appeared to be a very well skated performance. Looking forward to the free dance, the two stated that they are happy with their skate and are thrilled to be competing at their first World Championships together as a team. Only 3.2 points separate the teams ranked 10-18.
The skates of both Viktoria Kavaliova & Yurii Bieliaiev (pictured, right), the young team from Belarus, got lost during their travels to Ontario, and they were forced to compete wearing borrowed skates. Everyone knows how finicky skates and blades are and how hard it must have been to use someone else’s for this important event. The skates that Bieliaiev wore did not even have dance blades, making many elements much more difficult than usual as dance blades are much shorter. They did not qualify for the free dance round of the competition, as they finished last in the short dance, but they won the hearts of fans for their gutsy performance.
Less than four points separates teams placed 3-9, setting the stage for an extremely exciting free dance on Saturday. With a battle for gold and a tight race to snatch up the remaining podium spot, as well as the Olympic qualifying spots, Saturday’s free dance event at the 2013 World Championships will be thrilling and unforgettable.