Meryl Davis, Charlie White win ice dance
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Give the latest round in ice dance's big rivalry to Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
The Americans won the Four Continents title Friday, but the big showdown with Olympic champions and training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir fizzled after the Canadians cut short their free dance because Virtue felt tightness in her left quadriceps.
"They have gone through a lot this season," Davis said. "I'm not exactly sure what happened, but we don't really think about it too much. When we come into competitions, we worry about skating our best. When we leave a competition, we're thinking about how we can improve. I'm sure they are disappointed but we are excited and happy with how we skated."
Virtue and Moir won the Olympic and world titles last year, with White and Davis the runner-up both times. Virtue and Moir missed the Grand Prix series while she recovered from October surgery to relieve pressure in her legs. Davis and White dominated the competition in their absence, winning every event they entered.
With Virtue and Moir returning to competition in Taiwan, the renewal of the rivalry was eagerly anticipated.
The Canadians barely won the short dance to set up a high-stakes finale, but Virtue and Moir couldn't finish it off. Virtue had strained her quad in training before Four Continents, and the demands of their free dance aggravated the tightness, said Mike Slipchuk, Skate Canada's high performance director. They withdrew about 30 seconds into the program.
"It's nothing major. Nothing linked to the surgery she just had," Slipchuk said. "In no way are they looking at this changing their plans going into worlds."
Davis and White finished with 172.03 points after an impressive free skate, easily outclassing fellow Americans Maia and Alex Shibutani. Canadians Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Canada were third.
Davis and White now turn their attention to next month's world championships, where they will try to become the first Americans to win a world or Olympic title in ice dance.
"Coming into this season, we were looking to improve our skating after such a successful year last year. We wanted to try to take things in a little bit of a different direction with our free dance being a tango this year. It started off a little bit rough, but we're pleased with the progress we've made," White said. "We are still really looking to the worlds, that's what we've been building toward. That's the one that counts the most in our books."
Earlier Friday, Olympic silver medalists Pang Qing and Tong Jian turned in a strong free skate to win their fifth pairs title. The world champions wowed the crowd with a precise and fluent skating display, scoring a season's best 128.04 points for a total of 199.45.
"I hope we will do better in next month's world championships because today we were not totally in control," Tong said.
Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford were second with 181.79 points and Canadian teammates Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers were third with 171.73.
Earlier, world champion Daisuke Takahashi of Japan surged to a commanding lead after the men's short program with 83.49 points. That put him comfortably ahead of Jeremy Abbot of the United States, who had 76.73 points. Japanese rival Yuzuru Hanyu was third with 76.43 points.
The Four Continents, which features skaters from the Americas, Asia, Africa and Oceania, concludes Sunday.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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