The United States' Meryl Davis and Charlie White stole the show on Day 1 of the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, as they won the team short dance to revitalize their country in the team medal race.
Davis and White, otherwise known collectively as "Marlie," put together a resounding performance to a medley of songs from “My Fair Lady,” which earned them 75.98 points.
America entered the day in seventh place out of 10 in the new team event where the top five teams advance to the final. Without going into detail on the team's failures on opening day, it goes without saying that the country needed a top performance from Davis and White to get back into medal contention.
As expected, the owners of six national championships, two world championships and a silver medal in the Vancouver Games in 2010 delivered. The stunning performance to lead the pack moved the U.S. right back into contention, as USA Today's Nancy Armour illustrates:
There ya go. US has moved up to third place in the overall standings, with a 3-point lead over France.— Nancy Armour (@nrarmour) February 8, 2014
It was a breathtaking performance from the duo, as they appeared to be mirror images of one another. Christine Brennan of USA Today put it best before the judges revealed their scores:
USA is back in the figs team ballgame. Davis and White were terrific. They look like they are dancing on land, not ice. Awaiting scores...— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) February 8, 2014
There was no secret that Davis and White were going to come in hot this time around after seemingly just soaking in the experience in Vancouver. They said as much before the Games in Sochi, via Kyle Austin of Mlive.com:
This time, I think we’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves in terms of performance. And just performing the way we’ve been practicing, performing the way we’ve really set the bar for ourselves to perform. It’s definitely a different approach this time around.
The Games are far from over, but Feb. 8 saw the duo hold true to their statement, as they single-handedly put the United States on their shoulders and pulled the country back from the brink of elimination.
Davis and White's only true competition for the victory on Saturday was the Canadian duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who bested the field in Vancouver for gold. This time, Virtue and Moir finished in second place with a score of 72.98 after a strong performance.
Armour explains why Davis and White were able to nudge their competition from the north, via Maggie Hendricks of USA Today:
The margin between Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and reigning world champs Meryl Davis and Charlie White is so small that even the slightest error is magnified. Virtue and Moir got out of unison on their twizzles—spinning turns—while Davis and White looked like mirror images. The Americans also had just a tad more energy. Small details, but they add up—in this case to a three-point lead over the Canadians.
Clearly, Davis and White entered Sochi on top of their game. The strong showing may prove to be what puts the country over the top in a situation that looked bleak after opening day.
Best of all, the win is not the last time Davis and White will have a chance to help earn a gold medal for the United States thanks to the implementation of the team event. Two of the country's greatest athletes in Sochi are just getting started.
Note: All info courtesy of Sochi2014.com unless otherwise noted.