Meryl Davis & Charlie White are one free dance performance away from becoming six-time U.S. champions, a feat that has not been matched by any other U.S. ice dancing team. Winning the short dance, the reigning Olympic silver medalists posted their highest domestic score yet, receiving 80.69 for their performance to music from My Fair Lady. The team continues to develop and improve both the technical and artistic aspects of the program.
“We feel really good,” Davis said. “I think that today, we reached a comfort level with this program that we haven’t necessarily reached in competition so far.”
“We were really happy with our skate today,” White added. “It wasn’t 100 percent perfect but it was the best we have skated so far. Emotionally we felt really comfortable embodying those characters which is something we have been working really hard on since the Grand Prix Final. We are really proud of that. As always, we feel there is room to grow.”
Finishing in second, Madison Chock & Evan Bates overcame a fall in practice the night before which resulted in Chock hitting the boards pretty hard.
“The boards are okay,” Chock said. “I’m okay, a little sore, but the boards are definitely in worse shape than I am. My shoulders are a little store just from the impact.”
The fall did not seem to impact their performance and the team received all level 4s on their elements including the two Finnstep sections. Bates couldn’t contain his enthusiasm at the end of the program.
“I got pretty excited at the end there,” Bates said. “[I] didn’t really mean for that to come out, but sometimes, when the stakes are high, the emotions run high as well and I was just really thrilled with the performance and proud of Madi. It’s just the start of the week for us.”
Bates competed at the 2010 Olympics with Emily Samuelson and a lot has changed since then. “Definitely the injury I sustained in 2010 was difficult to overcome,” Bates said. “Things have changed quite a bit in my skating career since then, but my experience with that has given me a great respect. I’m very grateful. As an athlete it’s easy to take things for granted the opportunities we have, but once your health is taken away, you really feel it.”
Siblings Maia & Alex Shibutani are in third place after the short dance. Their short dance to a Michael Buble medley showcased their smooth skating style and the Finnstep was a natural fit for them.
“A national championships in Boston is so special for us,” Alex said. “We were really excited to get this event started. We left some points on the table I think it’s fair to say so we are disappointed about that but if you look at the program as a whole, we are very excited about how we are performing it. The energy level was amazing.”
Alex made a slight mistake on the twizzles which caused them to be marked only as level 3.
Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue sit in fourth and are just 1.31 behind the Shibutanis.
“I think our performance was pretty good today,” Hubbell said. “We felt happy and we were comfortable being here. There were a few little stumbles so unfortunately that took away our levels. I think we were ready to perform level fours.”
The team received level 3s on their Finnstep sections and step sequence and level 4 on their twizzles and curve lift. Hubbell has been dealing with multiple injuries this season, including a torn labrum. +
“I don’t think in the long run it (the injury) slowed me down.” Hubbell said. “I think you learn a lot about yourself and about your team when something like this presents itself.”
Two-time U.S. junior champions, Alexandra Aldridge & Daniel Eaton (pictured, right) are soaking in their first senior season and are currently fifth after the short dance.
“It was great to finally be senior because we were junior for so long,” Aldridge said. “The Grand Prixs are so motivating because you are with the top skaters in the world. It’s so surreal at first then when we were in China we kind of felt like we belong here. We are supposed to be on the Grand Prix circuit and we will do great things in the future.”
Aldridge & Eaton are less than three points behind training mates Hubbell & Donohue after a solid skate that received similar TES marks.
“It was our favorite performance because we’re home and we’re performing for the crowd to the best of our abilities and we had a solid skate and I’m just really glad that everything worked the way it did,” Eaton said.
Lynn Kriengkrairut & Logan Giulietti-Schmitt finished sixth. Though they received similar TES marks to the teams in fourth and fifth, their GOEs were lower which resulted in a lower technical score. The team changed coaches this season and are now working with Igor Shpilband and his expertise was visible in the team’s short dance to “That Man” by Caro Emerald and “Jolie Coquine” by Caravan Palace.
Finishing in seventh were Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus. McManus is from the Boston-area, so this was a bit of a homecoming of sorts. The team trains in Newark, DE.
“I was a little overwhelmed,” McManus said. “As I was skating around the rink, I could just see so many familiar faces like my sisters and my aunts and my uncles. They all had their signs and it just brought it back home for me, so I was very overwhelmed, but very, very happy.”