January 12, 2014 in Sports

6 straight titles for dominant U.S. duo

Ap
 
Associated Press photo

Gracie Gold reacts to her winning routine Saturday.
(Full-size photo)

BOSTON – A record sixth straight U.S. ice dance title. A personal best at the national championships, with the highest score possible for their free skate routine.

And, more important, an all but certain second consecutive trip to the Olympics for Charlie White and Meryl Davis.

The reigning Winter Games silver medalists danced their way to victory at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Saturday to win their sixth national title – one more than the record five they had shared with American pioneers Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.

“Coming into this competition, there was no secret we were going after that sixth title, the sixth record-breaking title,” Davis said. “It’s such an honor for us.”

With Davis’ shaggy, blonde mop of hair whirling around the ice and White’s tied back by a tiara, the world champions gave an energetic and emotional routine to “Sheherazade” by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. They finished with 200.19 points – their most at nationals – thanks to a 119.50 that was a perfect score for the elements in their free skate.

“With the Olympics in the season, it really ups the ante,” White said. “What a great time to be an American ice dancer.”

Evan Bates and Madison Chock were second with 181.44 points and siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, with 170.44 points, were third.

Earlier, hometown favorites Simon Shnapir and Marissa Castelli won the pairs championship.

Gracie Gold won the women’s free skate later Saturday, followed by 15-year-old Polina Edmunds and 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu – leaving two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner fourth and needing help from the selection committee to make the Olympic team.

The men’s long program is today. The U.S. Olympic figure skating teams will be announced today, with the top three in dance and top two in pairs expected – but not guaranteed – to get spots.

After showing up to a mid-week news conference in a Boston Bruins T-shirt and ski cap, Shnapir turned to a Saville Row-style shirt and tie – accessorized by a gun holster – for a James Bond-themed routine with Castelli that earned them the pairs title.

“I grabbed her hand and I said, ‘Let’s just stay out here for a second and enjoy this moment,’ ” Shnapir, of nearby Sudbury, said.

“Who knows if we’ll ever have an opportunity like this again?”

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