Meryl Davis and Charlie White entered the 2014 Winter Olympics ice dance competitions as favorites, and they lived up to that promise yet again on Monday by securing the gold medal at Iceberg Skating Palace.
After placing first with a world-record 78.89 score in the short dance on Sunday, Davis and White capped it off with a world-record 116.63 in the free program to take the top spot of the podium in Sochi, Russia.
As Paul Carr of ESPN notes, it's the first-ever gold medal for the United States in the ice dancing competition:
Americans Meryl Davis & Charlie White win the 1st-ever ice dancing gold medal for the United States. #Sochi2014— Paul Carr (@PCarrESPN) February 17, 2014
The pair finished ahead of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who earned silver, and Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia, who took home bronze.
|1||Meryl Davis, Charlie White||United States||195.52|
|2||Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir||Canada||190.99|
|3||Elena Ilinykh, Nikita Katsalapov||Russia||183.48|
|4||Nathalie Pechalat, Fabian Bourzat||France||177.22|
|5||Ekaterina Bobrova, Dmitri Soloviev||Russia||172.92|
|6||Anna Cappellini, Luca Lanotte||Italy||169.50|
|7||Kaitlyn Weaver, Andrew Poje||Canada||169.11|
|8||Madison Chock, Evan Bates||United States||164.64|
|9||Maia Shibutani, Alex Shibutani||United States||155.17|
|10||Penny Coomes, Nicholas Buckland||Great Britain||151.11|
The American duo finished first in both the short and free ice dance in the inaugural team competition, and that helped the U.S. secure bronze in that event. Each near-flawless performance seemed to be on another level from the rest of the field. Even formidable rivals Virtue and Moir were no match either time.
Such was the case in this instance too. Davis and White didn't need to top their Olympic-record score of 114.34 set in the team competition edition of the free dance, but they did so anyway.
White discussed dealing with the expectations of being such heavy favorites before the Olympics commenced, and how he and Davis expect greatness as it is, per NBCOlympics.com's Joe Posnanski:
I guess I would say that nobody can ever put more pressure on us than we put on ourselves. ... We’ve been putting pressure on ourselves since we were very young. We are both so competitive. We are both harder on ourselves, I think, than anyone could ever be on us.
Sometimes when athletes put more pressure than anyone on themselves to succeed, it can backfire. That strategy evidently works just fine for Davis and White, whose rapport and legacy are now sealed. After winning the silver in the 2010 Vancouver Games, they have overcome that shortfall by claiming the top prize in Sochi in a dominant overall display.
Philip Hersh of the Los Angeles Times relayed comments made by 1988 ice dance bronze medalist Tracy Wilson of Canada, who was captivated by how Davis and White went about their prowess on the ice.
"Meryl and Charlie just come out and grab you, with their music selections and their powerful, athletic style," Wilson said. "Their connection to each other is not as strong as their connection to the music."
Since host Russia dominated the team figure skating competition and won both the gold and silver in the pairs free skating, it has to be especially refreshing for the U.S. to notch an ice dancing gold medal.
The Americans continue to climb in the overall medal standings as well thanks to Davis and White's strong showing in Sochi. The pair have truly made a statement in the sport and will look to repeat their gold-medal performance at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.