Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Meryl Davis, Charlie White class of ice dance field at U.S. Championships

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Meryl Davis and Charlie White have a little history to take care of before they go for the first Olympic gold medal by an American ice dance couple in Sochi.

The reigning Olympic silver medalists are heavy favorites to win a record sixth U.S. Championship in ice dance, breaking a tie with four past couples.

Davis and White begin their fifth straight U.S. title defense on Friday at Boston’s TD Garden, hope to wrap up No. 6 on Saturday and be named to their second Olympic Team on Sunday.

They’re the closest to a sure thing across all four disciplines this weekend and might be the only American figure skaters to win a medal in Sochi.

Part of that is due to a lull across U.S. men’s, women’s and pairs skating, but more for their remarkable podium consistency since taking the baton from 2006 Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.

Davis and White are the reigning world champions, have won five straight Grand Prix Finals and haven’t finished off the podium anywhere in nearly five years.

“We have been very fortunate to have an amazing career as American ice dancers,” the curly blond White said.

U.S. Figure Skating Championships Previews: Men | Women | Ice DancePairs | Schedule

It started in earnest at the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Davis and White won their first national title in 2009, but that was without the sidelined Belbin and Agosto, who became the first U.S. ice dancers to win an Olympic medal in 2006.

Davis and White outscored Belbin and Agosto in the short dance, original dance (since dropped from ice dancing competitions) and the free dance in Spokane, Wash., in 2010.

They then beat Belbin and Agosto again at the Olympics, silver to fourth, firmly planting themselves as the No. 1 U.S. ice dancers.

They enter Boston as the couple to beat and could win even with flaws, but neither likes those perspectives.

“I think Charlie and I always feel like the hunters,” Davis said. “Four years ago we were really seeking to be the top U.S. team going into the Games. We had a lot we wanted to accomplish. This time we’re really aiming to go after the perfect performances.”

It might take perfection to win Olympic gold over Canadian Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, their training partners in Canton, Mich. Virtue and Moir are known for their lyricism; Davis and White their athleticism.

The Americans brought in five-time “Dancing With the Stars” champion Derek Hough and a Persian dancer to boost their programs this season. They’ve been skating together for 18 years but are still learning, still improving.

Which doesn’t bode well for any other couples’ chances of taking gold in Boston.

“We’ve left no stone unturned,” White said.

The competition for the other two Olympic spots is led by Alex and Maia Shibutani, the “ShibSibs,” whose parents attended Harvard and mother was born in Japan. They’ve been skating together for 10 years, but this is their first chance to make an Olympic Team.

The Shibutanis have trained with Davis and White for six years.

“Ugh, those guys,” Alex joked of Davis and White. “When we were juniors in 2010, you’d have to ask them, but I felt very much like we were not yet ready to be a part of their group. After Grand Prix Finals, traveling with them, being to so many World Championships, they’ve really accepted us.”

Alex, who at 22 is three years older than Maia, was born in Boston and is excited to skate in the arena that the Celtics and Bruins call home.

“If you see him getting emotional when he’s looking up into the rafters,” Maia said, “you’ll know why.”

“I’m kind of a Mass-hole of sorts when it comes to the sports teams,” Alex said.

They are known for their humor and social media sense but also for their energy on the ice. The Shibutanis skate to Michael Buble in the short dance and a Michael Jackson medley in the free dance and have worked with Corky Ballas on choreography. Ballas, a Latin ballroom dancing champion, has trained “Dancing With the Stars” professionals such as Hough.

The Shibutanis won bronze at the 2011 World Championships, finished second, second and third at the last three U.S. Championships and won bronze medals at both of their Grand Prix events this season.

They’re the clear-cut No. 2 couple. Behind them are Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue

Bates took 11th at the 2010 Olympics with Emily Samuelson and teamed with Chock two years ago. They beat the Shibutanis at the 2013 U.S. Championships but did not make the podium in two Grand Prix events this season.

Hubbell and Donohue were fourth at the U.S. Championships and posted comparable scores to Chock and Bates in the Grand Prix season. They could be vying for that third and final spot.

Bradie Tennell ready to show off more hard work

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For the first time in several years, Bradie Tennell is healthy for a full season – and it’s paying dividends.

She seemingly came out of nowhere to win a surprise bronze medal at the Skate America Grand Prix over Thanksgiving weekend. Then, she won a gold medal at the national championships in January and was named to her first Olympic team.

She debuted in PyeongChang for Team USA in figure skating’s team event. She competed her short program – set to a South Korean film soundtrack – and earned a bronze medal already in PyeongChang. But just being at the Olympics an accomplishment in itself, she said.

Read the full preview at NBCOlympics.com

The ladies’ short program is Tuesday, February 20 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com and the free skate is Thursday, February 22 in Primetime on NBC and NBCOlympics.com.

Winter Olympics late night: What to watch/stream

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It looks like the Olympics are getting into more serious territory, with four medal events being covered tonight as well as the last games in the round robin phase of the curling tournament.

Among those competing for a medal tonight are the Finnish women’s hockey team, who were decimated by the Americans in the semifinals. They take on OAR in the bronze medal game.

Elsewhere, the American men and women have one more game to sneak into the curling knockout rounds.

Continue reading below for full coverage of tonight’s events on NBCOlympics.com.


Curling

The round robin phase finally wraps up tonight, and there’ still work to be done for a handful of teams. For the men:

Men’s Tournament

USA vs. GBR Stream Live Here 12:05a.m. EST / 9:05p.m. PST

DEN vs. CAN Stream Live Here 12:05a.m. EST / 9:05p.m. PST

SWE vs. NOR Stream Live Here 12:05a.m. EST / 9:05p.m. PST

KOR vs. JPN Stream Live Here 12:05a.m. EST / 9:05p.m. PST

Women’s Tournament

SWE vs. USA Stream Live Here 6:05a.m. EST / 3:05a.m. PST

SUI vs. JPN Stream Live Here 6:05a.m. EST / 3:05a.m. PST

OAR vs. CAN Stream Live Here 6:05a.m. EST / 3:05a.m. PST

KOR vs. DEN Stream Live Here 6:05a.m. EST / 3:05a.m. PST

Hockey

Both of these teams were just minor obstacles for Canada and United States, but both performed well to get to the bronze medal game.

The fact that all four teams from the semifinals were all in Group A is a testament to just how tough that group really was. Aside from their losses against Canada and the USA, Finland have outscored opponents 12-3. They also took the first game against OAR 5-1.

Women’s Tournament

Bronze medal game: FIN vs. OAR Stream Live Here 2:40a.m. EST / 11:40p.m. PST

Cross-Country

Is there any doubting the Norwegians at this point? Johannes Klaebo clinched the gold for the men during the 4x10km relay, making it seem easy along the way. Not to mention, the man is a natural sprinter in cross-country and his presence will be a huge lift for the Norwegians.

On the women’s side, Norway will have some competition with Sweden as Charlotte Kalla and Stina Nilsson can both put up impressive times. The Americans have an outside chance at a minor medal, having a very respectable performance in the women’s individual sprints.

Men’s and Women’s Team Sprints Stream Live Here 3:00a.m. EST / 12:00a.m. PST

Speed Skating

The U.S. face a tall task ahead of them when they challenge Netherlands in the women’s team pursuit semifinals. Led by Heather Bergsma, the USA started out very strongly but ended up sliding into fourth place. A bronze medal is a more realistic expectation for this group.

Men’s and Women’s Team Pursuit Finals Stream Live Here 6:00a.m. EST / 3:00a.m. PST

Bobsled

Women’s bobsled concludes in the early hours on Wednesday with a battle between Germany and USA for the medals. Germany hold the gold and silver medal positions, while the USA holds the silver and fourth. Elana Meyers Taylor and Lauren Gibbs set the start record on their second run, but a sluggish middle section pushed them into second place. Only .07 seconds separate them from the German team with two runs remaining.

Nigeria and Jamaica will also be making their final two runs tonight.

Women’s Runs 3-4 Stream Live Here 6:40a.m. EST / 3:40a.m. PST

Figure Skating

The Olympic Ice crew recap the ladies’ short program.

Olympic Ice Post Show Stream Live Here 12:05a.m. EST / 9:05p.m. PST