Any chance we have to watch Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir and Meryl Davis & Charlie White compete, we should consider ourselves the lucky ones to live in a generation where ice dance is competitive and entertaining as any other discipline. And, because we get to see two of the best ice dance teams ever go head-to-head.
Because those two are in the competition, we can all safely assume that the battle among the other teams is for the bronze medal. For some of those other teams, that may not be their favorite thing ever. But, there’s no doubt that the Canadian and American champs have elevated the sport for everyone within it.
Still, there will be plenty of drama unfolding … it is ice dance, after all! But, only the select few will claim the hardware.
Gold: Meryl Davis and Charlie White
You’d think at some point we’d get tired of predicting gold for these two. But, you’d be wrong. They continue to elevate their skating to new heights, in attempts to fend off their friends and arch-rivals, Virtue and Moir.
There has been significant discussion this season as to which team has the better free dance. I’ve stood by Davis and White’s waltz all season, for one simple reason — it shows them off at the very best, in every way. it’s not their character portrayal that makes this strong. It’s their dance. Their lines, their flow, their ease of movement, their transitions, their edge quality, their control, their closeness … all things Virtue and Moir do as well, but in this instance, Davis and White seem to do more confidently.
We have yet to see how clean short dances compare, but with a few minor changes for Davis and White, they could still hold the advantage. In fact, they’ll need to hold that advantage to win the event.
Silver: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir
There’s no doubt these two are hungry to once again top the podium. But, the late-season changes to both programs have them “behind the eight ball,” so to speak, in their level of comfort — and, thus, quality — throughout. That said, they’re pros. They know how to push when they need to push. And they’ll need to do just that to take advantage of any wiggle room Davis and White leave.
To clarify, it’s not that I don’t like their “Funny Face” free dance. I simply don’t think it highlights their flow, line, grace, elegance, etc. like past programs have. Their character portrayal is first rate. Scott owns this dance. It just sells them short, in my opinion. Ultimately, it’s just that — an opinion. What matters is how they incorporate the latest changes to squeeze every last point out of the dance.
It will be, as others have said, splitting hairs between the two. And if there’s ever a place to take back the momentum for the Canadians, it’s here. If only it were that easy.
Bronze: Weaver and Poje
This one is hard for me. Weaver and Poje have been on a slow climb all season, hitting a peak at Nationals (but not one they can’t surpass). The spark in their short dance is electric. The passion in their free dance is as deep as anyone in the world. They are, perhaps, the most seasoned this year, having competed in three GP events before heading to the Final.
They tend to be underscored internationally. But, they are brilliantly confident in every moment of both programs, and their scores reflect that. If they skate up to par, they are among the top five in the world.
But, it won’t be easy. They’ve traded placements with American silver medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani this year, who will be pushing for that third spot in Colorado Springs.
Prior to Nationals, I would have given the nod to the Canadians without hesitation. However, after a lack of success in the short dance portion through the GP series, Maia and Alex went back to the drawing board and created a stunningly improved version of their samba. That portion of the event had been their undoing. But, the revamped version may very well live up to Weaver and Poje’s dance. If it does, they have a strong chances at taking bronze. If not, it will be an uphill battle.
I’ve gone back and forth in my own arguments for who wins this match up, and depending on the moment, I may not be entirely confident in it. But, for now, I feel Kaitlyn and Andrew are due. Maia and Alex, with more miles on that SD, make make a stronger push come Worlds.
The best of the rest
Don’t forget about the newly crowned US bronze medalists here. Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue may earn the “most improved” badge for the progress they made since their season debut at Skate America. Topping Madison Chock and Evan Bates (who, admittedly, lacked a little “spark” at Nationals in my eyes) was no small feat. And for such a new partnership, they show enormous promise. But, they need to polish it up so they look like an elite, international team. That said, Madison couldn’t have done better than partnering with Zachary. He is phenomenal.
What do you love most about the rivalries at the top? Who stands out to you?