The new team figure staking competition continued with ice dancing. The discipline features one of the Olympics' most intriguing storylines with the battle between the top teams of the United States and Canada, which is garnering a lot of attention.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White scored the top spot this time around. They came on the ice last after Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir failed to produce their best effort. It gave the Americans a little extra margin for error, and they took full advantage.
With that in mind, let's check out where all 10 teams finished in the ice dance and update the point totals for all sides. Then, we'll follow that up with a complete recap of the action from the Iceberg Skating Palace.
Results and Team Points
|1||Meryl Davis & Charlie White||USA||75.98||20|
|2||Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir||CAN||72.98||26|
|3||Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev||RUS||70.27||27|
|4||Nathalie Pechalat & Fabian Bourzat||FRA||69.15||17|
|5||Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte||ITA||64.92||14|
|6||Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi||GER||58.04||15|
|7||Penny Coomes & Nicholas Buckland||GBR||52.93||7|
|8||Cathy Reed & Chris Reed||JPN||52.00||16|
|9||Siobhan Heekin-Canedy & Dmitri Dun||UKR||49.19||7|
|10||Huang Xintong & Zheng Xun||CHN||47.88||16|
Huang Xintong and Zheng Xun of China opened the competition with a fast-paced routine to set the tone of the event. Unfortunately, that style of skating makes it easier to lose rhythm, and the Chinese tandem lacked unity, especially early on.
They put together a strong performance technically, but it lacked the flair and memorable moments necessary to contend with the elite teams. Quite simply, the partners were just a bit out of sync, and the scores reflected that.
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Another underdog pair, Siobhan Heekin-Canedy and Dmitri Dun of Ukraine, followed with a very strong showing based on their standards. Again, it wasn't on the level of the top teams, but they avoided any serious errors to bounce back after a poor 23rd-place performance at the European Championships.
Cathy Reed and Chris Reed were tasked with earning at least a middle-of-the-pack finish to keep Japan in contention after a terrific short program from Yuzuru Hanyu to open the team competition.
The siblings, who were born in the United States but have dual citizenship, were a clear step above the first two teams in terms of their components. As TSN Skate noted, the performance ensured Japan would finish at least eighth in this discipline:
52.00 for the Cathy and Chris Reed for Japan and that puts them in no worse then 8th position and 3 points...could move up depending— TSN Skate (@SkateTSN) February 8, 2014
Germany sent out Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi for the short dance. The longtime partners have won four national titles and enjoy the advantage of the built-in chemistry that only comes after many competitions working together.
It showed as they were able to easily outshine all of the teams that came before them. NBC Olympics' Rachel Lutz noted their score, which eclipsed 58 and was more than five points better than any other team in the first half of the event:
The opening half came to a close with Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland of Great Britain. Simply appearing in the Olympics was a step in the right direction for the pair after Buckland dealt with heart issues near the end of last year.
Owen Gibson of The Guardian reports Buckland had surgery to repair a faulty nerve in his heart and was able to return in time for the European Championships, where the team won bronze. Coomes said getting the procedure done was a relief:
Now that it is done, you have no idea how much of a relief it is that it won't happen to us again in competition or play havoc with training. It is not in the back of our minds anymore.
They didn't have a perfect run, but it was enough to put them in second place among the first group.
As expected, the action began to pick up with the talented pairs in group two.
Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France put together a strong routine, immediately illustrating the gap between the groups. While they slid into first place at the time, there was certainly a feeling they could have gotten even more out of the run.
Reigning European champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte of Italy were next. While they put together a solid run, it wasn't on the same level as the short dance from the Euros. It was a more middling performance by their standards and left them out of contention for a top-three finish.
The emotional favorites were next as the host nation pair of Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev put together an outstanding display, much to the delight of the crowd. It was still not on the same level as the dominant Canadian and American pairs, but it was a very good effort nevertheless.
The friendly rivalry between Canada and the United States finished the competition. Bonnie Ford of ESPN echoed the thoughts of many regarding to top pairs for each side:
I never get tired of seeing Virtue/Moir and Davis/White face off. Just remarkable quality. #sochi2014— Bonnie D. Ford (@Bonnie_D_Ford) February 8, 2014
Virtue and Moir were up first. The defending Olympic gold medalists weren't at their best by any means, but the difference in overall quality was still evident, as they charged past the field to earn a second-place finish.
In the end, it was all about Davis and White. They left absolutely no doubt as to which team was going to win this segment of the team competition with a brilliant skating performance. The judges rewarded them with scores three points clear of the field.
It was an important segment win for the Americans, as they are now right back in the thick of the race for a team medal.