SPOKANE, Wash. — Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the compulsory dance Thursday, striking the first blow in a showdown with Olympic silver medalists and former training partners Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto that could have ramifications all the way to the Vancouver Games.
Granted, Davis and White's lead is just 0.4 points heading into today's original dance. Still, they scored an American-record 45.42 for their Golden waltz. "Last year was really a turning point for us," Davis said. "We really knew we were going to be able to put ourselves at the top someday."
Belbin and Agosto, among the world's best ice dancers for almost a decade now, adjusted to a coaching change last season and had injuries. Meanwhile, Davis and White were rising in international stature.
Davis and White won the U.S. title last year — Belbin and Agosto were out with Agosto's back injury — and missed the bronze medal at the world championships by a 0.04 points.
As reigning Olympic and world silver medalists, Belbin and Agosto will go to Vancouver as gold medal contenders. Beat them, and Davis and White will be in the mix, too.
The women's competition began late Thursday with the short program. The final is Saturday. Go to usfigureskating.org for updates.
European Championships: Evgeni Plushenko won the men's title in Tallinn, Estonia. Ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin held on to their lead after their original dance program.