Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States took a commanding lead over the reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada after Sunday’s short dance.
The Americans were awarded 78.89 points for their performance – a new world record. But more importantly, it gives them a nearly insurmountable 2.5-point lead over the field ahead of Monday's free dance.
But least one skater has voiced his dissent over their score. And he’s the ultimate authority in the sport.
Petri Kokko, a two-time world medalist and Olympian with his partner Susanna Rahkamo, believes Virtue and Moir should’ve been the leaders after the short dance – which incorporated the Finnstep – a dance Kokko himself created.
Virtue and Moir scored 76.33 for their short dance, over 2.5 points behind their rivals.
Here's where it gets a bit technical, so bear with us.
Part of the Virtue/Moir Finnstep was awarded a level 3 out of 4 difficulty by the event’s technical specialist Ayako Higashino. Davis and White were awarded the full – and higher scoring – level 4.
It’s not the first time Virtue and Moir got a level 3 for their Finnstep. They were awarded that level at Skate Canada, an event held earlier in the season in their home country. They got the same level at Trophee Bompard, an event in France.
The Canadians were also underscored in the program components – or artistic – mark. Two-time men’s Olympic medalist turned analyst Elvis Stojko felt Virtue and Moir should’ve beaten Davis and White in the performance and interpretation marks. Kokko agreed, tweeting that Davis and White lacked “timing, crispness, and character.”
“I think there’s too much of a spread in the points, and not only are [Virtue and Moir] second, but they are too far behind,” Stojko explained.
In singles, the 2.5 point difference wouldn’t be an issue. In ice dance, it’s a nearly insurmountable lead. In their last head-to-head meeting, Davis and White led Virtue and Moir by just 0.04 points.
[Video: Compare the two Finnsteps]
Whether or not Virtue and Moir can rally and repeat as Olympic champions will be determined in today’s free dance. You can watch the live stream here and join our live chat beginning at 10am ET/7am PT. The top skaters will skate around 12:30pm ET/9:30am PT.
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