For the first time in American ice dancing history, the U.S. can boast a champion. Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold medal at the world figure skating championships in Moscow on Saturday, beating out friends and training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir from Canada and Maia and Alex Shibutani from the U.S.
Virtue and Moir had a small lead over Davis and White after the short dance. The Canadians skated first, delivering an energetic and passionate dance that was quite a departure from the routine that won the pair Olympic gold in 2010. They earned high marks on their lifts, turns and twizzles, and garnering a score of 107.5. That put them 11 points ahead of the Shibutanis with just the American champions left to skate.
Davis and White needed to score their season's best to wrest the gold from the Canadians, and they delivered.
and their twizzles drew huge cheers from the Russian crowds. This dance was athletic and showed off Davis and White's speed and close connection on the ice. Every turn was in unison, wowing the fans. The judges agreed, awarding Davis and White a score of 111.51 and the gold medal.
Davis was emotional after winning the gold, finally beating Virtue and Moir and becoming the first Americans to win ice-dancing gold.
"It's been a triumph of all of our efforts. We're really honored to be the team," Davis said to the ice-side reporter.
At the Vancouver Olympics, Virtue and Moir edged Davis and White for the gold. This year, the pair barely competed as Virtue battled injuries. Like women's silver medalist Yu-Na Kim, Virtue and Moir skated for the first time at the world championship. Like Kim, they came just shy of repeating gold.
The Shibutanis were also experiencing a first -- their first senior-level world championship. Their sweet routine to Nat King Cole music earned a season's best and the bronze medal. Maia covered her mouth in surprise when the score came up and she realized that she would be leaving her world debut with a medal around her neck.
All three medalist pairs skate for the same coaches, Marina Zueva and Igor Shpilband, Russians who now coach out of Canton, Mich. It made for a jovial scene on the medal stand, as the good friends hugged and kissed each other.
The gold and bronze medals also salvage what had been a tough world championships for the United States. The men all finished miles out of contention. The pairs skaters did better than expected, but still were well off the medal stand. Rachael Flatt, who took seventh in the Olympics, had a disastrous week and finished 14th after skating on a stress fracture. Alissa Czisny took fifth, by far her best finish at worlds, but had she not fallen on her first jump, would have won a bronze medal.
North Americans made their stamp on ice dancing, a sport that was once dominate by Russians and other European teams. Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje took fourth, followed by Americans Madison Chock and Greg Zuerlein at seventh and Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier in eighth.