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Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Preview and Predictions for Ice-Dance Free Dance

Joe TanseyFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 2, 2017

Olympic Figure Skating 2014: Preview and Predictions for Ice-Dance Free Dance

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    The second half of the ice dance at the 2014 Winter Olympics is expected to give us a showdown between the top American pair of Meryl Davis and Charlie White and defending gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir from Canada. 

    The two pairs sit atop the standings after the short dance and should deliver two of the best free-dance programs as well.

    Continue reading for a complete preview for the free-dance portion of the ice dance. 

Overview

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    Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

    The ice dance is the second competition in Sochi to include a duo of skaters after the pairs competition took place on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

    It is also the penultimate event in figure skating at the Iceberg Skating Palace, with the ladies' competition being the last discipline to award its medals. 

    In the short dance, 24 pairs competed, with 20 spots in the free dance up for grabs. The remaining 20 pairs will compete on Monday for the three medal spots. 

Schedule, TV and Live Stream Info

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    Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

    The free dance will begin at 10 a.m. ET and can be seen live on NBC Sports Network and through the live stream on NBCOlympics.com

    The top pair, Davis and White of the United States, will skate last, while Virtue and Moir will skate 17th of the 20 pairs.

    Click here for a complete look at Monday's start list. 

How Did We Get Here?

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    Ivan Sekretarev/Associated Press

    Davis and White earned the top spot with a score of 78.89, while Virtue and Moir nailed down a score of 76.33 to finish second on the list of 20 qualifiers. 

    Two Russian pairs—Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov and Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Solovievare in the third and fifth positions, respectively, with the French duo of Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat sitting in fourth to round out the top five. 

    The two other American pairs in the competition are in eighth and ninth place with their dreams of earning a medal pretty much gone. 

    For a complete look at the standings, click here. 

Top Storylines

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Can Davis and White Hold onto the Lead? 

    Davis and White have been near perfect in Sochi over the last eight days. The pair has a win in the ice-dance portion of the team competition and a first-place mark after the short dance. 

    With their final and most pressure-packed skate ahead of them, Davis and White must fight off whatever exhaustion they are feeling and deliver their fourth stunning skate of the Games. 

     

    Will Virtue and Moir Do Enough to Challenge the Americans? 

    Virtue and Moir will head onto the ice 17th out of the 20 pairs, and if they turn in a good enough program, they could leave Davis and White thinking about how good their skate must be. 

    The Canadian duo has plenty of experience in a situation like this thanks to its gold-medal triumph in Vancouver and is within striking distance of the Americans. 

    The pair also finished second behind Davis and White in the ice dance during the team competition; that result will surely give the Canadians some extra motivation.

Who Are the Sleepers?

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (France) 

    The French pair of Pechalat and Bourzat sit in fourth place after the short dance, less than a half of a point behind the Russian duo of Ilinykh and Katsalapov. 

    With the need to deliver the skate of their lives in front of them, look for Pechalat and Bourzat to challenge for at least the bronze medal.

     

    Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte (Italy) 

    Sitting in sixth place, Cappellini and Lanotte are the ultimate dark horses in the free dance since no one will be paying attention to them in regard to the medal conversation.

    The Italians will not have to wait around like the other medal contenders will on Monday, as they will skate 13th in the free dance.

    With an early start and nothing to lose, they may be able to surprise a few people. 

Who Is the Favorite to Win Gold?

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    Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Davis and White entered Sochi as the gold-medal favorite and will begin the free dance as the top contender for first place. 

    The American pair has not slipped up yet after three crucial skates and is not expected to falter when it will matter the most.

    Although the duo already has a bronze medal from the team competition, nothing would mean more to Davis and White than a gold in the event that they have dominated for quite some time. 

Complete Medal Predictions

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    Vadim Ghirda/Associated Press

    Gold: Meryl Davis and Charlie White (United States)

    Silver: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (Canada)

    Bronze: Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat (France) 

    The top two teams in the competition will be in a class by themselves on Monday, but Davis and White are skating with the momentum and have not made a bad step in Sochi.

    Virtue and Moir will have to work miracles to take down Davis and White and will likely settle for silver.

    The race for bronze could be a thrilling one as well, with Pechalat and Bourzat behind the Russian duo of Ilinykh and Katsalapov by less than half a point. 

    The French pair will get to skate early, and look for them to set a mark that the Russians will just miss during their program.

     

    For more Olympics coverage, follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90. 

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