2011 Dance Event

by Alexandra Stevenson

Davis & White tango to win first world ice dance title ever for US; "It’s soaking in right now what we’ve just accomplished. It’s a testament to the dedication that Meryl and I put into the sport. When we were put together, we were 8-and 9-years old, and we were just hoping to do well in juvenile. This is a real good feeling." -Charlie White, gold medalist;.

Olympic champions, Virtue & Moir take silver despite almost no competitive experience this season; "We’re going to have some good pictures this year for the rink." –Scott Moir, silver medalist, joking about all three medalists training at the same rink and with the same coaches;

Shibutanis medal in their first Worlds, as French fall flat; "Maia and I are so happy, but what makes it really special is owning the podium for Marina and Igor." -Alex Shibutani, bronze medalist.

1.Total 185.27; 2.SD 73.76 (37.36+36.40); 1.FD 111.51 (53.78+57.73) Meryl Davis & Charlie White, three time US champions and last season’s Olympic and world silver medalists had skated in this arena twice before, in the Cup of Russia. They lay second after their SD, which they performed 22nd of the 25 couples allowed into this section, to two powerful operatic Waltzes, from Puccini’s La Boheme and Verdi’s La Traviata on Friday evening April 29.

They had got a slow start to the season because they originally chose to use music from the French movie, Amelie, which had also been picked by Pechalat & Bourzat. Both couples were told to change to music with more "grandeur" to suit the Golden Waltz Pattern Dance, which, broken in half, formed two of the five required elements for the new Short Dance. And they followed that wise advice.

Of the 25 couples, fifteen were "Direct" entries based on their country’s placing the previous year, and on their ISU world ranking, and an additional ten qualified from the Preliminary round. The top ten ranked couples drew for the last two groups of five. Davis & White performed second of last five, immediately following the Russian champions, Bobrova & Soloviev. The Technical Controller was Linda Leaver. Sergei Ponomarenko, the former world and Olympic champion, who with his wife and partner Marina Klimova invented the Golden Waltz, was the Assistant Technical Specialist.

Davis and White began with their twizzles, but received only Level 3 because he missed a rotation. Nevertheless, one judge gave the top GoE of +3. Two gave +1 and the other six punched in +2. Their other four required elements all earned the maximum Level 4. The non-touching steps received two +3 GoEs. The first part of the Golden Waltz got one +3 and the second half, unanimous +2s. The Rotational Lift got five +3s. Their component marks ranged from 8.50 to 9.50.

Davis said, "The Short dance went really well for us tonight and we got a new season’s best score. We're really pleased with our performance and we're ready and excited to go out for the free dance tomorrow. It was exactly what we wanted to come in here and do. We were really confident going on the ice and we’ve already moved on to thinking about tomorrow. We are really comfortable at this point in the season, and we’re just happy to be here competing. At this point, Charlie and I need to keep ourselves in the bubble we’ve been in and concentrate on what we’re going to do tomorrow and not worry about anything else."

Asked what they needed to do to win, White said, "I wish there was just one thing. I think if we skate like we’ve been skating, that’s the key. We just need to skate our best. We've been doing it all season. We've got the material. We know how to do it. We've just got to go out there and perform the way we know how." They were practically tied with their Canadian rink mates. Their components were a sliver, 0.05, higher, although they received no 10s, while Virtue & Moir were awarded three 10s all from the same judge. But their elements’ score was 0.58 lower than the Canadians. It made for an exciting Free since the least mistake by either couple could determine the overall result.

However, the Americans were flawless, ascending to a superior new level, skating their best ever FD, clearly earning the title, the first Americans to do so. The routine was entirely set to Tangos, complicated and light years ahead in terms of extreme difficulty. (In the previous months, White had shown major mistakes in competition while they were perfecting this four minutes.) It was immediately obvious they had worked extremely hard over the season with ballroom dancers. The routine had developed significantly as the season went along. Changes included the decision to have four short lifts instead of the original two plus one long lift. The music comprised four pieces from Il Postino and Forever Tango, two chosen by White and two by Davis. They performed last of the 20 couples, who went through to this section, providing the event with a fitting climax. It was an incredibly difficult virtuoso performance, full of intricate steps executed at breath-taking speed and great power. I only wish his blond curly locks had been dyed. In the Tango, the focus is the man, and that was definitely true in this routine. However, the soul of a Tango is heartbreak, jealousy, betrayal and longing. White just doesn’t have the scars and he’s too handsome to be stymied in his life’s desires.

All their elements earned Level 4 except for the Diagonal steps which were Level 3. All the other competitors, including the Olympic champions, were saddled with at least two Level 3s. The overall FD score left no doubt they were the winners. Their opening straight line lift gained two +2 GoEs and the rest +3s. All their GoEs were nothing but +2 or +3. Their twizzles earned an amazing +3 from ALL nine judges.

One judge gave +3s for all but one element, the Diagonal steps. Even the lowest marker gave one +3 and the rest +2. Of the total of 72 GoEs, 39 were +3s and 33 +2s. For their component scores, they received eight 10s. One judge gave 10s for three of the five categories, for skating skills, linking footwork & movement, and choreography. For choreography, two other judges also gave 10. They also got two tens for Interpretation & Timing, and one for Performance. However, one judge’s component marks ranged only from one 8.75 up to one 9.25. All five of his/her component marks would have been discarded as the lowest. Five of the 10s, of course, were also discarded as the highest.

White said, "We couldn't be any happier. We've worked our entire life for this moment. It’s just such a blessing to have it pay off when it counts at Worlds. We’re so happy and proud of each other. We are so happy to be partners right now. It's really a dream come true for us. It's never been easy. We put an extra effort when it got hard. We were ready mentally and physically. To be able to perform when it counted makes us so proud of each other. I think that was probably the best skate we've ever had in our career. We got to skate last, after the Olympic Champions, and to come out and do what we did just speaks for our character, our ambition and work ethic. It's been a long 15 years just building toward this moment. I think we kind of knew it would come eventually. But you have to make it happen on the ice."

Davis, who wore a sleeveless black creation which gave off a hidden maroon tinge, which would have been perfectly suitable for a Tango evening dance, explained, "After we skated, we had no indication that we had won gold. It was quite tense waiting for the marks. Charlie said, to the team manager, 'No matter what happens with the result, we're so thrilled and we can't ask for any more.' And I definitely felt like that, too. (About maintaining their individuality when training with the other couples) We know the differences between us and where we want to take our skating and what we're trying to put on ice."

White added, "I think we benefit tremendously from having the other couples there at our home rink. They are such amazingly talented skaters surrounding us all the time. They keep pushing us in the right direction all the time. You feel you can never slack off. We're very fortunate because we get along so well that we're not fighting each other. Of course, to say that we owe everything to our coaching is an understatement.

"There have been so many other amazing teams we’ve looked up to and trained with over the years including Tanith (Belbin) and Ben (Agosto) and earlier Liz (Punsalan) and Jerod (Swallow). I don’t think we can’t take all of the credit for this. It’s really been a group effort by all of the Americans to get here. We’re grateful to be able to build on what they established." Overall, they won by a clear 3.48 points. At 24 (Davis) & 23 (White), they are obviously in their prime. The lead up to Sochi is going to be extremely exciting.

2.Total 181.79; 1.SD 74.29 (37.94+36.35); 2.FD 107.50 (51.21+56.29) Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, the Olympic and defending world champions, completed the first event of their season. Performing their SP 17th, which was second in the pen-ultimate group of five, sandwiched between their teammates, immediately after Weaver/Poje and before Crone/Poirier, they began with Schenkst du Tango mir dein Herz (Give Me this Tango and Your Heart) by the Dajus Bela Dance Orchestra.

It was deliberately set to a scratchy old vinyl record, setting the mood of a long ago era when Tango was beginning to create a sensation on ballrooms all over Europe and Northern America. Then they went into Waldemar Kazanecki’s Night and Days Waltz. You felt this was late at night, and they were the only couple left on the floor, aware only of each other and the music. Four of their five required elements gained Level 4. The twizzles were Level 3. Their final move, the rotational lift, received +3 GoE from five of the nine judges. Their non-touching steps received two +3s, and there was one +3 for both their Level 3 twizzles and the first part of the Golden Waltz. One judge punched into the computer the maximum 10 for three of the five categories which comprise the component marks.

Virtue, 21, said, "It would have been really hard to sit and watch this event on TV. We knew we wanted to be here. We've said several times this week that we can't lose really. Just the fact we're here competing and feeling healthy and strong again, puts us ahead. We skate and compete because we love it. Before Four Continents (in February in Taipei, their first competition since winning the World title in Torino, in which they beat Davis & White marginally, but had to pull out during the FD because of her injury), I think I was a little bit concerned that it would take a while to find that rhythm again, having been almost a full year since we'd competed. But, at the drop of the hat, we were right into it and it didn't feel like we missed a beat. I think that says a lot about our training and about the experience we've had in the last several years."

Three years ago, Virtue had an operation on both shins to cure debilitating pain from chronic exertional compartmental syndrome. In retrospect, she feels she returned to competition too soon and this past October, had a second operation, this time on the backs of her lower legs to fix the same problem, and that kept them out of competition until the 4Cs.

Moir, 23, explained, "It didn't take us long to recover from the shock of having to leave the ice part way through the Free in Taipei. She had a problem with her quads. Our first priority was to get Tessa healthy. We scrapped the lift that was giving us problems, specifically her grabbing up her leg (into a split which affected her back). Once that was replaced (with an upside down position), it was kind of clear sailing from there. We had the normal bumps in the road, obviously, with not knowing where Worlds was going to be but the extra time was actually good, and it is great to be here.

"The Short Dance felt great. We are very pleased with our skate tonight. We did exactly what we wanted to do, go out there, do a strong Waltz and keep the flow. It felt like we got all the key points that we wanted." His partner added, "All our technical elements are sound. We just needed to do our thing and get back to being the Tessa and Scott who love to skate and compete. It was heartbreaking, of course, to see the footage from Japan - just gut wrenching. We felt helpless as athletes but we just needed to go with the flow and be ready for whatever decision was made. At that time, thinking about figure skating and worrying about a competition seemed silly and extremely trite."

Moir added, "Tessa and I are very excited to be here for our first competition in Russia. We've only been to St. Petersburg very quickly for a show. The country has such a rich history of figure skating. We're very grateful to the Russian organizing committee for all their hard work and for giving us an opportunity to skate. I don’t think people understand what Tessa had to go through. It was major surgery and the road back was extremely hard. We’re skating for us and because it’s what we love to do."

They performed their Free Dance immediately prior to Davis & White. Virtue explained, "Everything about this free dance is different from our free dance from the Olympics (where they were the youngest ever winners, and first North Americans to claim dance gold). I really feel we're pushing ourselves in this one. We are really challenging ourselves. It's not a comfortable program to skate. It certainly wasn’t, at first, but it's feeling like our program now and it's very exciting to debut it. We hope everyone likes the fun energy that it brings. It's fun to skate that way. We sort of decided coming into this, that all our technical elements and preparation are sound, so we just needed to do our thing. That's really working for us here and we feel like we are really well prepared.

"The Mahler (last season’s) program took our dancing to a new level. But this one has gone even further. We set out to challenge ourselves and to push the boundaries of ice dancing. The complexity of our program is unlike anything we've ever done before and perhaps something the ice dance world hasn't seen. We're really proud of what we've accomplished. We're pushing the sport and we have to be happy with that." They are reluctant to discuss future plans. She said, "We’re just taking it one season at a time."

Both Davis & White and Virtue & Moir made their world debuts in 2007, with the Canadians getting the advantage taking sixth while the Americans were seventh. This is the first time the Americans have got ahead of them at Worlds, but they have beaten the Canadians in other events, and, at Worlds last year, the Americans won the Free Dance.

Moir fully admitted, "It is a huge benefit for us to be training with the other couples. It's really quite special to be here, to share the podium with these two other teams. We saw all the hard work ‐‐ all the blood, sweat and tears that they put in to every day of training. I'm very proud of them. Hopefully, the six of us are going to come back again next year and do it all again. We feel quite close to Maia and Alex. We've seen them come up in the last couple of years and they're not kids anymore. They’ve got themselves world bronze medals, and maybe I'm going to have to stop being as friendly! They are on our tails. These kids (Maia and Alex Shibutanis) have a lot of room to grow.

"I don't think we're going to be able to sleep for the next 3 years. We're really happy with our performance, here. We're really proud of our year. This is a sport, we have to get to the rink and train, train, train. It's not the ice dance of old. It's really tough. I think it's changed a lot in the past 4-5 years. We’re proud to be a part of that. We're happy with both skates we had. We probably couldn't do any better than that and we're very proud of another world silver medal! (They earned world silver in 2008 and bronze in 2009 as well as the gold last year.)

Their Free Dance, for which Virtue wore a gold, backless dress, was a steamy mix of energetic samba and sultry rumba, set to Temptation by Diana Krall and Mujer Latina by Thalia. It demanded a huge outpouring of energy, and Virtue began by shaking every molecule in her body as if her bones had liquefied. The start was tremendously dancey, so much so that were it not for the incredible speed and flow across the ice, you would have thought this was a Ballroom Championship. Moir said, "We are really happy with the way we skated. That's a really demanding program, really tough. We thought we skated really well, and we are really proud of this silver medal." Virtue admitted, "I think I was a little bit sloppy at the end. We were a little tired, but we were really in the moment and skated each step 100%, which was exactly what we wanted to do."

They were penalized with two Level 3s (as opposed to White & Davis, who had only one Level less than the maximum 4), which were for both Diagonal and Circular step sequences. Mixed in with a sea of 27 +3s and 43 +2s were two +1 GoEs. But they received nine 10s for their component marks - three were for choreography, and one judge gave 10 for four of the five specific areas for which the panel awards marks. That was one more ten than Davis & White. Asked whether they should have left the sport while they were on top, Virtue said, "It would have been easy for us to walk away, but part of being the best is repeating. That was a goal of ours. We didn’t want it to be just a one-time thing. We know have to decide about coming back next year. It’s not an easy decision. Skating and competing have been our whole life. It’s not easy just to walk away." Just days after competing, they were back on the ice, starred in the remaining cities of the Stars on Ice Canadian tour.

3.Total 163.73; 4.SD 66.88 (36.14+30.74); 3.FD 96.91 (48.14+48.77) Maia & Alex Shibutani, made an amazing debut in World (Srs.). Last year, in The Netherlands in the World Jr. championships, they were second in the compulsory but a very disappointed fourth overall, which was particularly galling since they’d won silver the year before. That lit a fire beneath their feet and they have worked incredibly hard this season, gaining the runners-up place at nationals despite their youth. She is 16 and he turned 20 just a few days before they competed in Moscow. It helped that she has grown considerably this past year.

Immediately, they returned from that event in Holland, they set themselves new standards and worked harder than ever in Canton. "We had to," said Alex, the spokesman of the team. "Stepping up to seniors is a big leap. And we had programs that demanded an added sophistication. For us, it's been awe-inspiring to work alongside these couples. When we first came to Canton, we were almost afraid to skate out onto center ice. It was like 'Holy smokes! Look how hard these guys work!’

"They (Davis/White, Virtue/Moir) have pushed the sport so far and they're amazing role models for Maia and myself to look up to. Being here, where we are right now, makes us proud. It's really an attribute to Zoueva's and Igor's creativity and their tremendous skill in coaching. For Maia and myself, it just feels like we're just getting started." The proof that they were successful in this endeavor is that they were a dimension ahead of the Russians who had beaten them so soundly in the 2010 Junior Worlds, Elena Ilinykh & Nikita Katsalapov, who were sixth in Moscow after the SD, and dropped a place overall with a FD which was ranked only tenth best.

Both the Shibutani’s routines, the SD to Richard Rodgers’ Carousel Waltz, and the FD to Charlie Chaplin’s Smile and Irving Berlin’s Face the Music and Dance, won kudos the first time out, in Oberstdorf in their first competition of the season in September. That was despite Maia’s fall face down on the ice at the beginning of their first element, the twizzles, in the SP. "What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger," Maia said. "Thinking of the words to the music of our Free (Smile, though your heart is breaking) really helped me. You have to learn from every mistake." They went on to win bronze medals in both their Senior Grand Prix competitions, the NHK Trophy and Skate America, and silver behind Davis & White in the Four Continents Championships. It has been an unbelievable senior debut year.

Performing their SD in Moscow 19th, immediately after all three Canadian couples, the Shibutanis scored their Season’s Best and gained fourth place, a full point ahead of the Russians, Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, who were fifth in this section. Bobrova & Soloviev were runners-up for the European title and were competing in their third Worlds. The Shibutanis earned Level 4 for all but the second sequence of the Golden Waltz, which was Level 3.

They gained six votes of the maximum +3 GoE for their twizzles. The other three judges gave +2. Their lowest technical score came for the second part of the Golden Waltz, which gained three 0s, which is given for satisfactory, but not superior, performance. Four other judges gave +1 and two +2 for that element. The components went from a low of 6.75 given by one judge who also gave 7.0 for the other four categories. All five of that judge’s marks were wiped out as the lowest scores. The highest score was 8.25. One judge gave that mark for three categories, while two other judges also gave 8.25 for choreography. The Shibutanis earned 1.63 more on the technical score but 0.63 less on the components than Bobrova/Soloviev.

Alex said, "The dance was good. It’s been a long year and I think we skated really well. We were well prepared coming into the competition. The audience was great. We love the rink. Russia has done a fantastic job setting up for everyone. It’s a big exhale (to have done short dance). Finally, the competition has started. It’s nice to get one event over. After we finished, I told Maia to relax and enjoy the moment of knowing the feeling of our first world championships. I really wanted to soak it all in."

Maia agreed with big brother. "It felt great to get the first program out there. We have been really, really excited and looking forward to our first worlds for so long. That program was a lot of hard work that we were able to put together throughout the year with Marina and Igor, and that was the best way to start the competition off."

They drew to execute their FD third of the top five, following the French and Bobrova/ Soloviev. They gained Level 4 for all but the circular and diagonal steps which both received Level 3. They got one +3 GoE for their first element, the spin, and three +3s for their long lift. The components ranged from a low of one 6.75 for Linking Footwork/Movement up to one 8.75 for choreography.

As their marks came up, they knew they would medal. Maia said, "We are speechless right now. Going into our first Worlds, we were just enjoying the experience and thinking of all the hard work we’ve put in this season. We’re just happy with having two solid performances, so this is amazing." Her brother said, "They say it’s never easy. We’re proving that right now. We’re just really shocked. There is such an amazing caliber of skaters in this particular competition and, for us, to be where we are, we can hardly believe it. But we know we put in an incredible amount of hard work. It’s been a long year for everyone. We’re really proud of our rink mates and how we skated and how we handled ourselves in the first year at the senior level."

Maia added, "We are going to enjoy the next couple days. We are already looking forward to working hard for next year and improving on what we’ve done so far." Alex added, "We’re not satisfied. This is a great result but in the grand scheme of things, this is only going to push us harder and train harder. We’re excited for the future. The only thing that is kind of sad is that we really love both our Short and Free Dances. We put so much into them. We don’t want to stop performing them."

4.Total 163.54; 3.SD 70.97 (36.93+34.04); 6.FD 92.57 (43.00+51.57-2) Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat, France, skated on the rink where they have trained for the past two years. Pechalat, 27, said, "I felt a little stressed out, I have trouble with the tension during the day but two hours before the competition when I start to get ready, I get calmer because I know it's going to start soon. We are skating as a French couple but in a Russian atmosphere with Russian music, Lara’s Theme from Dr. Zhivago, with a great Russian coach (Alexander Zhulin) but under exceptional circumstances."

As European champions, who were fourth in this event last year, they had clear and realistic expectations of receiving the bronze. Skating last of the 25 couples, they were comfortably lying third after the SP. They earned Level 4s for all but the easier first part of the Golden Waltz, which was given Level 3. Of their 45 GoEs, two were +3, five were +1, and the majority +2. Their component scores ranged from two 9.25s down to five 8.0s. After the SD, they lay a significant 4.09 points ahead of the Shibutanis (only 0.79 on the technical score but 3.30 on the component score). Pechalat said, "Right now I feel liberated and content. I did my job. Tomorrow, we can give everything. We have nothing to lose. I am focused for the free dance that hopefully will bring us a medal."

Bourzat said, "I was focused but not tight. I felt like at the European Championships. For us, it feels like at home. We know this ice. I'm excited and a little bit tired right now. I'm excited for the free dance and we are aiming at a podium finish. Since we are here in Russia, we have learned a different way of skating. We changed our techniques and everything goes right and we are able to do everything better. I feel like we started to skate 3 years ago when I came here."

But the smiles faded after the Free Dance. Skating first of the top five couples, their routine started with him, in an outfit similar to that Charlie Chaplin wore in his movie, City Lights, magically restoring the blind flower girl’s vision. Pechalat, in a blood red dress, dances with him for four minutes, and then returns to her blind state.

The routine was going extremely well until the sixth element, the circular steps. They had even received one +3 GoE for their opening curve lift, two +3s for their twizzles which they executed as their third move, and another +3 for their four move, the straight line lift.

They were in a simple but tight Kilian hold. He was going into a left inside bracket (not an easy turn since it is counter to the natural rotation but necessary to get a higher level). Bouzat's center of gravity swung behind where it should have been above the blade, forcing the blade to go forward during the turn while his body weight went back and down. His other boot hit hers. He had only a split second to let go of her but that didn’t happen and he pulled her down onto the ice, too. They received only Level 1 for the element, earning only a total of two points, which was wiped out by the two point deduction for the falls. It was a devastating moment. Yet, they were able to recover and completed the curve lift and the combination spin, which both earned Level 4. Their technical marks were only ninth best while component marks ranged from 8.00 up to 9.50, and they were third in this area. Overall, the sixth place in the free gave them fourth overall, only 0.25 behind the Shibutanis.

Pechalat, barely able to control the tears, walked around later in a daze. She said, "I don't know what happened. We have trained here for two years. We know this ice. It is very good. Fabian made a mistake. After the fall, we knew we had to stay focused. Now we have to digest what happened. We will move on and work on a new program."

Bourzat said, "It is not the end of the world, but it is a big disappointment for us. This was a program we felt comfortable with all season. It was mostly an error on my part. We were serene and confident when we went out. We've done good programs all season and if there were errors they happened on the twizzles or the spin (not on the footwork).

They have another problem. They are planning to move to Detroit to train with Angelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo. Pechalat said, "I’m afraid the Russian Figure Skating Federation will not allow us to train here, and I like Moscow so much. I don't want to leave." They are coached by Alexander Zhulin. However, all the Russian instructors, who receive money from the Russian government, through the Russian Skating Federation, or use government facilities (i.e. free ice time and training camps) have been told that teaching foreign top level competitors is a conflict of interest. If they continue to teach top level foreign competitors in the buildup to the Sochi Olympic Games, they will lose their government funding. To receive the tax-payers available funding, they must gear all their resources to the national front.

However, first, their plans called for a trip to Korea immediately following Worlds where they were scheduled to appear, along with Brian Joubert, in Yu-na Kim’s shows, All That Skate.

5.Total 160.32; 7.SD 65.07 (35.43+29.64); 4.FD 95.25 (48.51+46.74) Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje, have been Canadian silver medalists twice and bronze medalists three times, but have only been to Worlds once before, in 2008, when they were 17th. They were frustrated, unneeded first reserves last year. But, in Moscow, they made a major break-through. They had a very hard working week. Canada had a team of three ice dance couples, but only two were "Direct" entries, automatically entered for the Short Dance, a decision which is made on ISU world standings. Weaver and Poje had to qualify, presenting their Free in the Preliminary Round, to earn one of the ten places vacant for the Short Dance.

Weaver, 22, who was born in Houston, teamed up with the Canadian Poje in 2006. She became a Canadian citizen in 2009. He admitted that taking part in an event in which the scores count only to eliminate entrants, was "a strange feeling. But it’s great to have a simulation of the event, at the event!" His partner, 24, said, "I think we had a strong start. We did the twizzles well which can sometimes be our nemesis in practice. We're actually very thankful that we are able to do this (preliminary round) just so we can get this free dance out. It's our first time competing in Russia, and we're very excited to be here. You can’t simulate everything all in one atmosphere back at home. Being in the actual arena (competing) actually prepares us better for the competition. Our bodies know what they are doing and we know how to go through the motions. We have prepared ourselves to be at the top of our game for these world championships." They won the Preliminary by a 3.44 points, with the Germans, Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi, who would go on to finsih 11th in the actual championship, second, 3.55 points behind them.

The draw for the Short Dance was made by a complicated system using ISU world ranking, and Weaver & Poje were able to skate 16th immediately prior to Virtue &

Moir. They performed their waltz to Etta James singing At Last and a Quickstep to Irving Berlin’s Dancing Cheek to Cheek. They had won this section of the Canadian championship in January, in which Virtue & Moir did not compete. Just as the music changed, Weaver’s platted hair bun fell from out of its fastening. She explained, "It may have looked as if it was planned, but it wasn’t. That’s never happened to me before and I was distracted for just moment! But we had our hardest elements coming up and I said to myself, ‘You know what, I need to get it out of your brain and focus!’

"This was probably the best we have performed this season, although our best score was at the Four Continents Championships (where they were third in this section, behind Virtue & Moir and Davis & White). At the 4Cs, the technical content was all right but we were not quite relaxed there, whereas here we were really relaxed." Weaver & Poje were seventh in this section, but there was only 0.81 between them and the fifth placed Bobrova/ Soloviev. The other Russians, Ilinykh & Katslapov, were sixth with 65.51. They received Level 4 for all but the second half of their Golden Waltz which was awarded Level 3. One judge gave the +3 for their initial element, the straight line lift.

Their Free was set to Sparkling Diamonds; and Come What May & Tango de Roxanne from Moulin Rouge. They now train with Angelika Krylova & Pasquale Camerlengo with choreography done by Shae-Lynn Bourne. They gave a very enthusiastic, outgoing performance, taking fourth place in this section, just 1.66 behind the Shibutanis. Seven of their eight elements received Level 4. The only exception was Level 3 for their diagonal steps. All the elements earned over their base values. One judge gave them +3 GoEs for both their curve and straight line lifts. Another gave +3 straight line lift. The components ranged from five 7.25s up to two 8.75s.

Weaver said, "We weren’t taking anything for granted. We've had some fluke-y things happen this season, like missing grabbing a foot in a lift, or catching a blade in part of the costume. We were so ready to get over that, and we're so proud of all places to do it was at Worlds – that was the right place! Last time we were at Worlds we were (in 2008) 17th. So this is a long way up. To realize that we are among the best teams in the world is great."

Poje said, "The best part was the fact that it was a great performance for us and we put down solid performances. We had a habit of having one great and one mediocre in our previous competitions this season. So we wanted to make sure that we put both programs out and that we’re here to compete and not hold back. We're gaining experience in high pressure situations."

6.Total 160.23; 5.SD 65.88 (34.51+31.37); 5.FD 94.35 (45.79+48.56) Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev are the new Russian champions, both 21, who were runners-up for the European title (behind Pechalat & Bourzat). They were eighth in this championship in 2010. They drew to perform their SD, which they performed to the Waltz, Where I Want to Be from the musical Chess, first up of the last group of five couples.

He said, "We were pretty calm. We skated without overwhelming emotions, which could have cramped the performance. It is quite difficult to skate at home, because this is a big responsibility. You have to be very good. But the support from the audience and even people on the streets is amazing. We know about our team’s medals (the previous day, Russians won bronze in Men and silver in Pairs), so bigger expectations, even a bigger responsibility lays on our shoulders. Unfortunately, we think that we lost Level 4 on our lift, because Katja grabbed her foot too late." (Their rotational lift was awarded only Level 2 and the first part of their Golden Waltz only Level 3. The three other elements earned the maximum Level 4.)

She said, "In general we are satisfied with our skating. We got our season’s best. Of cause we wanted to perform better, but we have tomorrow. In the end, if we will skate well, everything will be fine."

Their Free was performed to Melody of the White Nights Isaac Schwartz. All but two elements received Level 4. The diagonal steps were a Level 3 but with a +1.0. However, the earlier circular steps were Level 3 with a negative GoE. (They did receive three +3s, each from a different judge and each for a different element.) He explained, "Our emotions didn’t let us succeed. We really wanted to show off more than we can do right now. There are a lot of our fans out there and I got nervous and made a mistake. I don’t know why, maybe we were too ambitious."

Bobrova said, "This was a very difficult season, because of many facts. We wanted to be in top three. We tried our best on the rink tonight, but the Canadians and Americans are obviously better now. But we will pull ourselves together and prepare for the next season as well as we can."

7.Total 154.50; 6.SD 65.51 (34.58+30.93); 10.FD 88.99 (42.47+46.52) Elena Ilinyhk , 17, & Nikita Katsalapov, 19, performed to the Waltz from the soundtrack of Agony and an Alfred Schnittke Tango, in their first World Sr. championship. They gained three Level 4s. The twizzles, which were given three +3s, were only Level 3 as were their non-touching midline steps which earned one +3. Their straight line lift received two +3s.

Katsalapov said, "It was super skating in our home rink (on which they train everyday). It helps us a lot. There was so much support. The crowd was so loud and this is what we need. We skated for ourselves, and for our parents and friends, who were here watching us. We gave our maximum, but there were a few smaller errors." She explained, "We didn't hear the beginning of our music and we didn't know what to do, if we should continue or start again."

They executed their Free to Minkus’ music for the ballet, Don Quixote, but were only 10th in this section, although they only dropped one place. Ilinykh said, "We are very happy about our result. We got very high points. Of course, we had some small mistakes, but the ice was fabulous. It was very easy to skate. Of course, we wanted to medal and we want to get a Grand‐Prix event. But, we don't concentrate on this, although those are thoughts in our heads.

"The Russian team showed such good results, Artur, Tanja and Maxim, so we wanted to show our best. We are so happy, that Tessa and Scott managed to come, because even to watch them train is something unreal! You just see, where you should aim, because they are brilliant, a true couple." He said, "As for the free dance, not everything went as planned. Maybe the support of the crowd was distracting or maybe it was just nerves. Yesterday, it was easier. Today the audience was more excited. Now our plans are to rest a few weeks and then we'll start to work. Next season we want to rock."

8.Total 153.77; 8.SD 64.12 (34.50+29.62); 9.FD 89.65 (44.58+45.07) Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte, are the second ranked Italians, but the champions, Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali left competition after doing poorly in this year’s Europeans, where they were a devastated ninth in the SP and fifth overall. Their career encompassed almost ten years with seven national titles, two European silver medals, last season’s World bronze medal, fifth place in the Vancouver Olympic Games and ten Grand Prix podium placements. They planned to do shows but in April had to pullout of those events due to injury.

Cappellini, 24, & Lanotte, 25, who teamed together in 2005, have competed in worlds since 2007, and this is their best placing. The performed their SD, to the Waltz, Que Sera, Sera and a Quickstep Girls, Girls, Girls by Sailor immediately after Davis & White, and earned just 0.95 points behind Weaver & Poje. They had not competed since the fall because of his injury. He explained, "It was my left knee. I simply fell on it and couldn’t go on the ice for two months but I'm completely recovered now and healthy. Our federation told us that it is better to have a Russian coach. We decided to ask Nikolai (Morozov) and we feel we fit in well with his other pupils. We are happy about today’s performance."

Cappellini said, "It was strange to not compete for such a long period of time. We hoped to compete in Europeans but Luca was not ready. We didn't rush it because we wanted to make sure that the same problems never return. It has been a tough season with lots of changes. But we focused well and we skated well today. It is the first time for us to have a Russian coach and lots of new things were brought to us, lots of different methods, and we have adjusted well." They received four Level 4s and but the non-touching steps were Level 3. They also got a +3 from one judge for their rotational lift.

They drew to skate their Free, set to Legrand’s The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, 11th, and held onto eighth although they were one place lower in this section. She said, "I can definitely say that for the next year we would not be happy with this kind of performance. We want move up more and show a more sophisticated program and a higher level performance." They gained all Level 4s, except for Level 3 on the circular steps and Level 2 on the diagonal steps.

9.Total 151.86; 9.SD 61.47 (33.93+27.54); 7.FD 90.39 (45.65+44.74) Madison Chock, 18, & Greg Zuerlein, 22, who teamed up in 2005, were in their first World Sr. Championship. They performed to Edith Piaf music, a Foxtrot to Milord and a Waltz to Padam, Padam, Padam, 15th of the 25 couples. They began with Level 3 non-touching steps. The other four elements gained Level 4. The components ranged from one 6.25 up 7.50s.

Chock, who is from Redondo Beach, CA, but moved to Canton to team up with Zuerlein, said, "It’s just a pleasure to be here. It felt so great. This was our first clean performance of the Short Dance of the year - no little slip ups. So we’re very happy with it. It was really fun." Zuerlein said, "I didn’t have a lot of nerves going into this. We’ve been training hard at home since we’ve been named to Worlds. We wanted to show that we were capable of doing, a clean Short Dance. The crowd was awesome. They were behind us all the way."

Their Free was set to music from Cabaret, with Zuerlein playing the Joel Grey role, which has helped him develop his acting skills, a definite plus at the beginning of this routine. He explained, "We were excited to put out two solid programs with great levels in both programs. Russia did a great job to put this all together in a short amount of time. All season, we were looking to make the World Team. We didn’t really have any expectations when we got here. Just to put out two solid programs and we definitely accomplished that with great levels in each. We’re really happy for ourselves."

Chock said, "It was exciting and a lot of fun. The crowd was really great, clapping through the whole performance. We've been working really hard this whole season, trying to improve at each competition and I think we've done that." Their goal next season is, of course, to make the World team again! They had two Level 3s, on the circular steps and the Midline steps, but all the other moves were Level 4 and the GoEs were positives, ranging from +0.5 on the twizzles, which was their first element, up to +0.93 for their rotational lift which was their last move. They even earned a +3 for their straight line lift executed as their fourth element.

10.Total 140.95; 10.SD 61.01 (31.85+29.16); 8.FD 90.12 (45.69+44.43) Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier, who won this year’s Canadian title in Virtue & Moir’s absence, were disappointed at their placing since they were seventh last year. In their SD, which they performed to a Waltz, Fallin’ by Alicia Keys, immediately after Virtue & Moir, they gained Level 4 for the opening Rotational lift and for both parts of the Golden Waltz. However, their non-touching steps were Level 3 and their final move, the twizzles, only Level 2 with -0.43 GoE.

Crone, 20, said, "We had a little bobble and it definitely didn’t help us today. But we will fight back tomorrow. We were prepared for this competition pretty well, so definitely tomorrow will be better. Poirier, 19, admitted, "It was a costly mistake. We were trying to get into the final flight. We now know it’s not going to happen. But we’ll fight back."

Their FD has caused comment all season, - good because of its extremely difficult choreography created by Christopher Dean (and they were judged 6th best for elements) and – bad because of the music to which it is set, Eleanor Rigby. Audiences know and love this music, but it is hardly in keeping with the ISU edict that the skaters choose music which is more uplifting than in the past. (Their components were only 10th best.) They were eighth in the FD but it didn’t move them up from tenth, although they were only 0.73 behind Chock & Zuerlein overall.

Poirier said, "Vanessa and I thought that we experienced a really solid performance (and they were given a +3 by one judge for their Serpentine lift). We are really happy about the way we finished our season. We had a mistake yesterday, but we didn't let it get to us. We just focused on our today's performance and delivered a solid program, so we are very happy. We stay true to ourselves as skaters and artists, and, obviously, it would be boring, if everybody skated the same way. I think everyone has a natural way of expressing themselves, and part of your style just comes from your natural disposition. Definitely we still need to work on the level of our performance, on polishing, and this will come with time and practice."

Crone said, "Despite the lower position, overall we improved a lot since Torino (2010 Worlds). There is still of a lot of places where we need to grow. We are taking this as a learning experience, and grow from here."

11. 140.95 (SP 12; FS 11) Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi, Germany.

12. 140.86 (SP 11; FS 12) Pernelle Carron and Lloyd Jones, France.

13. 133.33 (SP 13; FS 13) Cathy & Chris Reed, Japan.

After the SP, which they skated to music from the Adams Family, Cathy, 23, said, "We are very, very happy because we did a clean run through after a complicated season, and achieved a season’s best." Her 21-year-old brother, Chris, said, "It was a tough season. Lots of things happened, the coaching change, program changes. It was a little bit shaky but a pretty good performance." They skated their Free Dance to music from the soundtrack for The Blues Brothers. Cathy said, "It was a great performance until the end. Chris was overexcited and he fell (although not on an element). After Skate America, we were disappointed and decided to change our free dance and coaches (to Galit Chait). We've improved a lot in a short amount of time. So we’re looking forward to next season."

14. 131.01 (SP 14; FS 14) Isabelle Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas, Lithuania, who train in Canton, performed their SD to Waltz of the Flowers, from the Nutcracker Ballet. Tobias explained, "I’ve performed in this ballet in New York many times. It was just a joy to skate to the music. We really just wanted to skate our best and enjoy it and I really think we did that." About his new partner, Stagniunas, said, "She's very expressive and I'm very happy. We've improved so much in 7‐8 months and especially after our experience at Europeans (where they finished 12th.)"

15. 128.70 (SP 15; FS 15) Siobhan Heekin-Canedy & Alexander Shakalov, Ukraine

16. 126.29 (SP 17; FS 16) Penny Coomes & Nick Buckland, GB

17. 123.01 (SP 16; FS 17) Xintong Huang & Xun Zheng, China

18. 120.11 (SP 19; FS 18) Allison Reed & Otar Japaridze, Georgia

19. 120.02 (SP 18; FS 19) Charlene Guignard & Marco Febri, Italy

20. 116.52 (SP 20; FS 20) Louise Walden & Owen Edwards, GB


2011 Dance Medalists


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