The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi are off to a thrilling start, and much of that can be credited to Sunday's team ice dancing event.
It was also the last event in the overall team category, which is new to the Winter Games.
The American duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the defending national champions and the silver medalists in the ice dancing at the 2010 Olympics, but proved once again that they are the cream of the team crop.
This ice dancing event was one of the best in years.
|1||Meryl Davis and Charlie White||USA||114.34||10|
|2||Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir||Canada||107.56||9|
|3||Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov||Russia||103.48||8|
|4||Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri||Italy||81.25||7|
|5||Cathy Reed and Chris Reed||Japan||76.34||6|
*Scores via Sochi2014.com.
The Japanese duo of Cathy and Chris Reed was the first team to compete. The brother and sister combination performed well in front of the Sochi crowd, but their performance lacked the elite difficulty and precision the judges are looking for in a gold-medal performance.
As a result, the 76.34 for the Japanese team was lower than many expected.
After a strong start to the team free dance section, the Italian team of Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri continued the stellar performances. With several unique moments—but a lack of elite execution and synchronization—the Italians still managed to score 81.25 with the judges.
Team USA’s Twitter account talked about the Italians:
The Italians earn 81.25 points and are the new leaders. #Olympics2014— U.S. Figure Skating (@USFigureSkating) February 9, 2014
That set the stage for the three-way battle for the win between Russia, Canada and USA.
The Russian pair of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov was the first of three heavyweight hitters, and the hometown team didn’t let the fans down. With serious potential to be great for a long time, the performance on Sunday was one of the strongest in the duo’s history.
Ilinykh and Katsalapov earned their 103.48 judges scores.
It was going to be hard for any team to follow up a strong Russian performance, but Canadian representatives Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were more than willing to do so. While the tandem took over second place with a score of 107.56, they did not live up to the expectations placed on them prior to this event.
Skate Canada had a different point of view:
Team Canada’s performance set the stage for Davis and White from the United States to steal the show.
In one of the best performances of the Olympics thus far, Davis and White went on last and absolutely proved why they were the top team in the competition. The perfection in timing and chemistry between the two American skaters is second to none, and the judges made it clear with an astounding 114.34 final score.
White told the Associated Press via ESPN.com:
"We don't feel like we're trying to carry any sort of burden or load. We're counting on the whole team to pull through together and I think that's what makes us such a strong team."
As strong as Davis and White performed, this was also the culmination of the team figure skating event. Russia’s total score gave the nation its first gold medal of the event.
Team Canada won the silver in Team Figure Skating and USA finished third.
The Russian fans were excited for the first gold medal of the Olympics, but there is no discounting how well Davis and White performed. The team will now go on to look for gold in the free and short dance events next Sunday and Monday.
While Canada’s Virtue and Moir will try to dethrone the American stars in the remaining ice dancing events, the duo of Davis and White have built enough momentum that they will be able to bring home gold the Team USA.
In what will be considered one of the greatest free dances in team history, the Americans stole the show on Sunday.