OMAHA, Neb.- The past 15 years have brought a lot of changes to America, but the top of the podium in ice dancing has belonged to three teams, after Meryl Davis and Charlie White became the third-consecutive dynasty to win five U.S. gold medals continuously.
A Nationals record free dance of 118.42 to “Notre Dame de Paris” gave them the combined high of 197.44 Saturday at the CenturyLink Center.
Before Davis and White’s reign, Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev won five from 1999 to 2003, and Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto won between 2004 and 2008.
“You put in a lot of work through the years,” White said, “and you don’t really think about the bigger picture too much, but now, we are at the point of our career where it’s a little bit easier to take a step back sometimes and believe that. It’s really special.”
Davis and White, 26 and 25, also won the U.S. silver medal in 2008 and bronze in 2007, to add to their Olympic silver medal from Vancouver and 2011 World Championship. This season, they were first in the Grand Prix Final and took home the NHK Trophy from Miyagi, Japan, and Skate America.
“We felt great out there, we put a lot of work into it since the Grand Prix Final to make it more special,” White said. “We’re never satisfied, we’re looking forward to Four Continents (in Osaka next month).”
The silver went to Madison Chock and Evan Bates, ages 20 and 23 (175.91), who were fifth a year ago.
“It’s been such a great season for us, working really hard,” Chock said. “We just keep hoping to get better.”
The two-time defending silver medalist silblings, Maia and Alex Shibutani, 18 and 21, won the bronze (174.21), with a “Memoirs of A Geisha” routine that suited Maia in a pink kimono.
“We know what we have to work on, and we’re happy and proud of each other,” Alex said.
Defending bronze medalists Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue were fourth with 167.86 points.
Three other ice dance teams have won five U.S. Championships: Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky (1968-72), Judy Blumberg and Michael Siebert (1981-85) and Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow (1991, ’94, ’96-98).
“Coming to the U.S. Championships for us,” Davis said, “it’s such a special time, in the building, you have people cheering you on, you might not actually know. It’s such an honor to come here.”