SOCHI, Russia – Imagine playing your World Series opponent.
Before the World Series even begins.
Or playing the Final Four.
Only to erase the results and then do it all over again in a few days.
That’s what happened during the figure skating team event at the Winter Olympics.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the ice dance team from the Arctic Edge rink in Canton, Mich., faced off against Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, a pair of Canadians who also train in Canton under coach Marina Zoueva.
The match-up created a fascinating preview of the teams who are expected to battle for the gold medal in ice dancing, an event that starts Sunday.
In the big picture, Russia won the gold medal in the team event Sunday with 75 points. Canada took the silver (65 points) and the U.S. earned the bronze with 60 points (20 of which were scored by Davis and White).
But let’s look at the small picture. And focus on the ice dance.
So what happened?
In the concise, eloquent words of Moir, “We got smoked.”
Davis and White finished with 114.34 points in Sunday’s free dance, while Virtue and Moir were in a different neighborhood with 107.56.
“We got beat by eight points in the free,” Moir said. “We weren’t even close.”
It was a commanding, decisive, telling, whopper of a victory for the American team. And it followed a big victory in the short dance Saturday.
And, yes, those numbers will be erased when they face off again when they fight for individual medals.
But the effects are certain to linger. This victory did several things. It continued Davis and White’s dominance over Virtue and Moir – Davis and White are the defending world champions – and this victory gave them even more momentum.
“I would say it sends a message,” said NBC analyst Scott Hamilton, an Olympic gold medalist in 1984. “I don’t think Scott and Tessa were at their best. But it shows Charlie and Meryl are prepared and ready to take on anybody here. I think, with Scott and Tessa, skating stronger performances, they will be closer. The fact that the score was so high sends a message that Charlie and Meryl are the favorites to win.”
More significantly, White and Davis had better scores than their Canadian rivals in all the component scores: skating skills (9.64-9.50 points), transitions/linking footwork and movement (9.61-9.32 points), performance/execution (9.96-9.64 points), choreography (9.89-9.68 points) and interpretation timing (9.82-9.68 points).
In basketball terms, that’s like dominating your opponent in everything: rebounds, free-throw shooting, turnovers, assists. Everything.
And, yes, those numbers will be erased when they compete for real. And certainly, they will change.
But this performance sets a tone.