Ice Dancing is Becoming...more legit? Well, not completely
Ice dancing used to be the type of sport where you paid your dues and after many years, you could find your way to the top of the podium (if you were Russian or French or maybe Italian). Well, the times, they are-a-changin. Virtue and Moir have only been fully competing on the senior level internationally since around 2006, and they truly shot up through the rankings. Not only that, but the top four here was dominated by North American teams. I know we had the Canadian team of Bourne and Kraatz, (but they never had a chance at the Olympics when they were skating), but Belbin and Agosto were the first American contenders we've had in many, many years. It was great to see them here but too bad they were edged out for the bronze that they deserved. (Still, it was not on par with Belbin and Agosto's best efforts, and they fortunately already have a silver from Torino).
Virtue and Moir
I am one of those who prefer Davis and White's programs and even thought they should have the edge last night (but I must admit that may be national pride talking!). However, I will say this: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir came out and skated their three best programs of the year. I don't think Davis and White necessarily did (other than maybe compulsories). I've seen them do slightly better with their original dance and free dance than they did here. I also think a lot of the momentum had to do with the crowd. The crowd was firmly in the home team's corner, to the point where they held back applause for the top competition, Davis and White, according to the LA Times. The energy in the building definitely helped make Virtue and Moir's beautiful skate even better. But I can't take away from the beauty of Virtue and Moir. It was a skate for the ages and an amazing moment to see them win in Canada - you could feel a whole country behind them.
A little respect, please
I don't care if Davis and White obliterated their season's best with their scores here. I find it a bit unbelievable that Virtue and Moir won the event by six points. They are not six points better than a clean Davis and White under any circumstances. This should have been a much closer competition. And if it had been held in any place outside of Canada, the audience would possibly have preferred Davis and White, making it more obvious how close in quality the skaters were. I have wondered sometimes this season whether Davis and White were making a mistake going with such recognizable and overdone music - Virtue and Moir definitely made the more sophisticated and even more difficult choice. But my fears were assuaged when I continued watching Davis and White throughout the season. They truly did something special with their program here. Those were some of the best silver medal performances that ice dancing's seen in a while.
Belbin and Agosto could never finish higher than silver at the Olympics or world championships, even last year when many thought they deserved the world championships over Domnina and Shabalin. Will Davis and White suffer the same fate? I sure hope not.
Domnina and Shabalin
Before I get too excited about the winners of these figure skating contests, I have to look at bronze medalists Domnina and Shabalin and ask whether they would even have made the top five here if they didn't happen to be skating for Russia. As long as I know the answer is no, I know there is still a ways to go before ice dancing is truly reformed.
Thank you, Russia
And before we go patting ourselves on the North American backs, let's remember who got us here. The top two teams are training partners coached by Russians Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva. What a successful night for the coaches!!
Bright Things Ahead
I was very impressed with Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates here, and there are also several young American ice dancing teams to keep an eye on in the coming years, so I don't think this American surge in the sport is going to end any time soon. However, I truly hope that Virtue and Moir and Davis and White stick around for a while longer - I feel like they have a lot more amazing programs to give us. Watching those teams this year was such a gift to skating fans. I am so happy the two best teams were able to win the top medals here.