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U.S. Figure Skating Championships preview: Ice dance

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Friday, January 10 the top ice dancers from around the nation will take to the ice for their short dance. At this year's 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, skaters will not only be competing for a national title, but also for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. These teams are coming hungry for the podium as there are three spots available for ice dancing on the Olympic Team.

Not everyone thinks of ice dancing as an intense sport, but with so much on the line and with the rivalries that have been building, it has turned out to be a very exciting season for ice dancing.

So who are the main contenders? Here’s who to watch:

A shoo-in for the Olympic Team is Meryl Davis and Charlie White. It seems impossible for them not to make the team as they have gone undefeated this season. They are looking to win their sixth national title in a row and confirm their place on the Olympic Team. Davis and White are the best chance for a gold medal in figure skating in Sochi, so be ready to watch some exceptional skating. This team is seasoned, trained and breathtaking. They are in a league of their own and it is extremely doubtful that any of the other teams will overtake them.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates teamed up back in the spring of 2011 and they progressed quickly winning the silver medal at last year’s U.S. Championships. They are a strong team with a lot of great qualities. They came in seventh at the 2013 World Championships and won the bronze at Four Continents, so this team has done well and many expect that they will make the Olympic Team.

Brother and sister team, Maia and Alex Shibutani are contenders as well as they won the bronze at the 2013 Championships and the silver for two consecutive years before that. They won the bronze at Skate America and NHK this season. They have made a few slight changes to their music in their free skate so it will be exciting to see what they bring to the table.

Another team who will be trying to edge out their competitors, is Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue. This team came in fourth at nationals last year and won the bronze at Skate Canada. They have been working to overcome the Shibutanis to earn that third spot on the Olympic Team, but have not yet been able to do so. This will surely put them to the test as they will have to skate perfectly to earn a spot on the podium and onto the Olympic Team.

Also be sure to keep an eye out for the new skaters entering the senior ranks this season. Two-time and reigning U.S. junior dance champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton will be exciting to watch as they make their senior debut.

NBC and the Ice Network will be providing coverage of the U.S. Championships, so check your local listings as you will not want to miss out on watching the passion of Davis and White, the elegance of Chock and Bates and all the other teams as they bring their best in hopes of qualifying for the Olympic Team and being named the best in the nation.

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