University students Meryl Davis and Charlie White danced their way to second place last night in Vancouver, earning silver medals for the United States Olympic team.
Davis and White’s silver was the 25th medal for the U.S. team, matching its record set in 2006 for medals won at a non-domestic Olympics and giving the United States back-to-back ice dance medals for the first time ever.
With the medal, the Americans are now all but guaranteed to surpass that 25 medal-win notch, as the U.S. women’s hockey team can do no worse than a silver medal after advancing to the finals.
In an interview last night, Davis told The Associated Press she was thrilled with winning the silver medal.
“There is so much to be proud of right now,” Davis said.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who finished with a score of 221.57, bested White and Davis’s score of 215.74. The Canadian pair won the Olympic gold medal in ice dance last night, an ice dance first not only for Canada, but also for any team from North America.
The North American first and second place pushed the Russians, who have long held a spot atop the ice dance podium, down to the bronze medal. For only the third time since ice dance became an Olympic sport in 1976, a Russian or Soviet couple did not win the dance gold.
Reigning world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin of Russia finished third. Americans Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, who were the silver medalists at the 2006 Olympics, came in fourth.
Virtue and Moir’s program was tender and sensual, like a married couple stealing away for a romantic evening. Their gentle, slow start showcased their skating skills, their edges so quiet and smooth they appeared to float above the ice.
But make no mistake, there was plenty of strength behind that softness.
They had as much power and speed as the hockey players Moir admires so much, but it was performed with balletic grace. Their combination spin seemed to go on forever, with many different positions and edge changes.
While Virtue and Moir were all softness and grace, Davis and White’s “Phantom of the Opera” was big and bold, as powerful as any Broadway production. They skated perfectly to their music, flying across the ice in the fast part and using deep edges to convey romance and lyricism in the slow parts.
Their lifts were akin to stunt tricks, done at breakneck speed yet with perfect control. In one, White flipped Davis over his shoulder so she faced the opposite direction. He then picked up his right leg and crossed it behind him as she opened her arms, that platform-like leg of his the only thing keeping her from plunging to the ice.
Their only flaw was a deduction, likely for an extended lift. But it wouldn’t have made a difference in the final results.
In a press release issued by the University’s Athletic Department following the pair’s performance, Davis said she was proud of the work she and White had done.
“We put in a really good performance for us, we’re really proud of ourselves,” Davis said following their last skate. “So where we end up is kind of out of our hands, but we feel good.”
White expressed his feelings in an NBC news segment aired before the couple completed their last skate.
“If there’s one thing that can top a Michigan football game it would be an Olympic medal,” White told NBC, according a statement released by the University’s Athletic Department.
In an interview with The Michigan Daily earlier this month, Davis expressed her excitement for the trip to Vancouver.
“This is an incredible opportunity, but you don’t want to do any more or less than we’ve been doing, even though the audience is that much bigger,” Davis told the Daily at the time. “I’m just excited about the chance to show the world what we’ve been putting our hard work and sweat into our whole lives.”
Fellow Americans and University students Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates took 11th place in the ice dance competition.
The pair earned an 88.94 in the free skate — besting their personal record by eight points — skating to Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman. Samuelson and Bates — who earned an overall score of 174.30 — are known for their footwork talents and strong lines, but were not expected to make the 2010 Olympics. However, with their placement, the duo is considered to be a strong challenger for the U.S. in the 2014 Olympic games in Sochi.
— The Associated Press and Daily Sports Writer Ryan A. Podges contributed to this report.