Olympics Watch: What Was Your Favorite Moment From Sochi 2014, Day 10?

Winter Olympics Sochi GamesConfession time: I used to think ice dancing was traditional figure skating’s bedazzled, less talented, grin-too-wide, show-off sibling – a watered-down, jump-free version of what the real athletes were doing.

Of course, I was very wrong. And if ever there were an argument to be made for ice dancing’s perfect marriage of athleticism and entertainment, it arrived in Monday night’s free skate at the Sochi games.

RELATED | Olympics Watch: What Was Your Favorite Moment From Sochi 2014, Day 9?

In an evening full of legendary performances, the American duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White executed a flawless long program that boosted them above the rest of the field and garnered them the gold medal – America’s first in the event.

Davis was a jewel-encrusted Scheherazade as she and White skated to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s gorgeous composition, their feet in near-constant motion. Their nearly two decades as partners was on surefooted display with synchronized twizzles (a series of fast parallel spins done in quick succession) and lifts that seemed effortless. At one point, White hoisted Davis high and flipped her completely upside-down, then supported her with just one palm as they traced a stunning parabola on the ice.

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What was even crazier was how much serious competition Davis and White had throughout the night. The Canadian duo of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir came very close to repeating their Vancouver Olympic win with a routine that often reduced Virtue to a blur of pale pink chiffon and glinting blades, so frequently did she spin while held above Moir’s head. Their final lift, with her skates planted in his thighs and her entire body arched away from him, seemed to defy the laws of physics.

Whereas traditional figure skating puts an emphasis on jumps and tricky footwork — and Olympians groom their choreography to highlight those features — ice dancing seems to be much more about giving a consistently entertaining performance throughout. During some of this year’s pairs regular skating events, the arm flourishes and head turns sometimes felt like they were just filler before the couple could build up enough speed to try for the multiple axel or triple salchow or whatever else was on the menu.

On the other hand, the well-acted concepts and attention to show-stopping detail made Monday’s ice dancing finals felt like a satisfying show from start to finish.

The crowd seemed to be of a similar opinion, particularly when Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov started up their skate – the night’s second routine to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. Their balletic program perfectly filled the dramatic music – the Black Swan (as opposed to White Swan) approach didn’t hurt, either – and the couple’s repertoire included several fast-moving, skyscraping lifts that had him wearing her thighs like an infinity scarf.

Ilinykh and Katsalapov wrapped their free skate to hurled bouquets, seat-shaking applause and a score that nabbed them the bronze.

What was your favorite moment from Monday’s coverage of the games? Bobsledding? Aerials? Just looking forward to Jimmy Fallon? Sound off in the comments!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Margaret says:

    I’m so happy for Meryl & Charlie, I can’t imagine what it feels like to have so much pressure on you to be perfect, and they executed it so beautifully, especially against such a talented duo like Virtue & Moir. And Steven Holcomb in bobsled, what a journey he’s been on, and to have a medal and a chance at another? Just awesome.

  2. Emily says:

    That ice dance completion was the best I’ve seen in years, everyone skated absolutely flawlessly, not because they weren’t doing hard things but because they were just so talented. I also loved the great variety of skating on display, both in routines and different skating skills, all of which were excellent

  3. Monica says:

    Too bad the judging was fixed before the competition even began. It didn’t matter how anyone actually skated, the US was always going to grab the gold.

    • S. says:

      Loosen the tin foil hat you’re wearing, Monica. It’s a little tight. How are things up in Canada? It’s usually not the place I think of for sore loserdom, but don’t think we didn’t notice that some of you were griping about it. You’re giving your countrymen and women a bad name. Virtue and Moir train with Davis and White. They know darn well how good they are and what points they’re capable of scoring. Notice who’s not crying cheater? The people in a position to benefit most from fixing. Why? Because they have knowledge and class. So many people got personal bests. It was a great night of skating, one of the best overall I’ve seen. Way to rain on a parade.

  4. Sarah says:

    Monica, may I just take a guess that you are Canadian? In 2010 both teams were great and the Canadians came out on top. Did anyone cry foul? It was exciting to see two North American teams topping the podium. Four years later, both teams were even better and the Americans finished on top. Get over it…it’s sport. Congratulations to both teams for skating flawlessly and for skating to the best of their ability. You and the Canadian media should stop looking for non-existent conspiracies.

    • Tamara says:

      I am Canadian and I am offended you would just assume that was why we thought the fix was in. It was actually a French paper that first brought this to light back before the team events that Russia would win Gold in the team event and the US would win it in individuals NOT the Canadian media. Now as it happened, that was how it turned out. Not to mention the excessive amounts of drug testing that the Canadian team had to do, especially right before they went onto the ice. But as Scott Moir stated, they test us all they want, we run a clean test.

      All that being said, I do believe, and trust me, I feel I’ll saying it as I am a HUGE Tessa and Scott fan, that Charlie and Muriel did deserve the Gold. Do I believe they deserved the amount of points they got to win, that I’m not sure of but I’m not a professional judge. I only see what is presented on my tv screen. But as a Canadian, I don’t feel cheated out of the Gold medal and I believe Tessa and Scott did amazingly and I wish them all the best. I do hope they continue skating whether it be competitively or professionally but they have been skating for 17 years and I know it has taken a lot on their bodies and personally lives, as I believe it has on Charlie and Muriel. If we don’t see either couple in the next Olympics, you definitely can’t say they didn’t go down without a fight!

    • Sam says:

      I feel like I should point out that the story of fixing the gold medal was broken by the French newspaper L’Équipe, so the idea that this a Canadian-driven conspiracy isn’t totally on base…

    • S says:

      It was a French newspaper that reported some backroom deal a week before this happened. So it’s not simply “the Canadian media.” Figure skating and ice dance have been mired in judging controversy for years. As, I believe, the only sport still judged by people, it’s completely subjective, and the judges have their own loyalties and yes, can be bought or swayed, I don’t imagine the controversy well ever go away. Regardless of whether or not anything hinky happened, the history’s there, the potential is there, and people will assume.

      Two teams, two sets of partners skating together their entire lives, same coach. Does that equal consecutive world-record breaking performances… or shenanigans? I don’t know. But congrats to both teams. The athletes are taking it all with grace and composure, and I believe they’re friends, so the least we can do is the same.

      • Katherine215 says:

        Figure skating isn’t the only sport still judged by people. Freestyle aerials are judged as well as the half-pipe and slopestyle events.
        I’m certainly not going to say there couldn’t be something sketchy going on. But, Davis/White won the ice dancing portion of the team event, though Russia would take the team event itself because they’re obviously strong in all 4 categories, unlike the US. Davis/White have also won the last 6 competitions they’ve been in. I have a hard time believing the US suddenly worried they were going to lose and felt the need to “make a deal” or whatever.

  5. Julie says:

    A French magazine quoting an “anonymous Russian coach.” Nevermind it was the French judge in ’02 … Trying to deflect some blame here? Make someone else look bad other than the French.. No idea what the motivation here is but unless and until I see some evidence that proves there was a fix, I don’t buy it. Anyone who watched knows that Meryl and Charlie were flawless tonight. Tessa and Scott were great too but this year it was Davis & Whites turn. Have the judges been fixing the competitions for two years? Because that’s how long Americans have been winning. The ’02 Dix was obvious because Sale and Pelletier clearly skated better and everyone knew they were robbed. Not so this year. The Americans were better tonight and the Russians were the clear winners and obvious better skaters during the Pairs competition. No fix.

    • Julie says:

      *’02 fix

    • Sara says:

      What cracks me up about the whole thing is that the French paper picked the 2 most likely to get the gold (the Russian team was the most overall solid team and the clear favorite as were Meryl and Charlie leading up to Sochi) and then grouped them together saying that if they both got gold it was because of judging shenanigans. It just seems like the paper looked at what the odds-makers were favoring and then manipulated it to make a story.

      Do I think that Tessa and Scott were slightly underscored in the short? Yes. But then, I am not a judge and don’t really understand the technical merits to the degree that they would. I do know that many analysts have said that the judges seem to be favoring technicality over artistry in recent years and that almost all (the analysts) would agree that Meryl and Charlie are more technically sound and Tessa and Scott are more artistic.

      I love both pairs and will be sad if/when they retire.

      • kd83954 says:

        I’m with you. The judges were looking for more technical merits than artistic. The announcers even said that Davis/White were more technical than Virtue/Moir and Virtue/Moir were more artistic. Clearly the judges went one way but that doesn’t take away how breathtaking Virtue and Moir were. I thought their short program score was surprisingly low but I also believe Davis/White had a better long program. For the past two years, Davis and White have been undefeated. They clearly have a little extra umph than Virtue and Moir. It would be one thing if Davis and White randomly won but they didn’t. They’ve been consistent for two years and their performance at the Olympics shows that.

  6. andy j says:

    On this day there really is only one highlight that tops all others-Great Britain’s women making the curling semis. Just kidding-Meryl Davis and Charlie White gave a truly magnificent and inspired performance. Sheer artistry. Brilliance.

  7. Amanda says:

    Wow! Davis and White looked stunning last night! I thought they were the personification of a Dinsey prince and princess. It was magical. I’ve never really followed ice dancing before, but I hope to find it highlighted more with this win. I find it better than pairs. You don’t need flips and throws to be breathtaking.

    • Eliza says:

      I have been saying that all Olympics… Davis & White look like a Disney Prince and Princess! They are beautiful to watch.

  8. Realistic Bitch says:

    Ahhh some good ol’ French bashing….it’s been too damn long since you guys went at it! Just for the record, it’s been known for years in the skating world that competitions are more or less rigged before they even began. I believe some old judges and ex competitors have mentioned it regularly over the years. But, that said, it’s amusing to see the US and the Russians work hand in hand to split gold medals between them. There, you see, you guys can work together given you both benefit from it ;)
    Not here to stir up controversy, it is what it is but denying it exists is pointless.

  9. jordan202 says:

    Virtue and Moir should have won gold. Not only they skate and dance well (as do charlie and meryl) they are awfully cute together, have an amazing chemistry and an abundance of charisma. It just makes you wanna root for them. Charlie looks dorky and passive whereas Meryl looks like the stereotype of a mean girl. I just can’t sympathize with them.

    I speak this as a brazilian, by the way. No canadian or american connections lol

  10. Anna says:

    ^^^ Lol. V&M deserve to win because they look cute together? Cue eye role.

    Both D&W and V&M were flawless, but D&W won on technical skills. No one seems to be denying this, so quit whining. All this conspiracy talk takes away from their well-deserved Gold medal. Congrats to them! It was a great night of skating all around.

  11. maureen christie says:

    Loved the Black Swan routine by the Russians. Obviously well scrutinised by the judges but am I alone in thinking their early lift was very prolonged – I know others were penalised but no-one picked up on how long they were in a lift position. I guess it was within limits but I was sitting with bated breath waiting for him to put her down!!!

  12. Eliza says:

    Wow. Well, according to my amateur eyes there was some amazing performances but Davis & White were so beautifully flawless. They deserved that win as I think their routine was the best of the night. I don’t care what any conspiracy theorists say.

  13. Anna says:

    Tessa and Scott were the definition of perfection in Vancouver. That being said, you can’t pretend that the time and ground they lost in 2011 due to injuries didn’t affect them. Charlie and Meryl have been very fortunate with injuries and have only gotten better, whereas Tessa and Scott have either gotten slightly worse or stayed the same. I don’t think it’s fair to argue about the order on the podium. Those three teams deserved the medals they earned. The only argument I’d make is whether everyone deserved the scores they were given.

  14. Larry says:

    I thought the Canadians were smoother than the Americans. The Americans didn’t seem graceful at all. I would’ve given the gold to Virtue and Moir.

    • S. says:

      They both seemed graceful. You’re not an ice dancing expert. Some of the edge work is insanely difficult and you wouldn’t know that the difficulty level was harder from one skater to the next because they make it look easy.

  15. Leanna says:

    “and the couple’s repertoire included several fast-moving, skyscraping lifts that had him wearing her thighs like an infinity scarf.”

    I seriously just snorted!!

  16. Ann says:

    Did NBC show the medal ceremony for the ice dancing event? I could have sworn they didn’t. They showed the two get on the podium, but I don’t recall hearing the national anthem. Did NBC cut away from this?