Sochi Olympics Figure Skating

Davis and White set world record, take lead after short dance

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The defending Olympic ice dancing champions threw down the gauntlet. And Meryl Davis and Charlie White met the challenge.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, the 2010 gold medalists from Vancouver, delivered a tremendous short dance that earned a leading score of 76.33. But on the final skate of the night, Team USA’s Davis and White answered by earning a world-record short dance score of 78.89 to take the lead going into tomorrow’s free dance.

The previous top short dance mark was one set by Davis and White themselves, a 77.66 from the 2013 Grand Prix Final.

Davis/White and Virtue/Moir, who share a coach and also train together, were expected to be the class of the ice dancing field in Sochi and they’ve lived up to the billing so far.

Here’s when you’ll see both compete during the free dance:

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But Russian fans will also be watching to see if Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katasalpov can give the host nation a medal. The pair holds a very slim grip on the bronze after today over France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, while another Russian duo, Ekaterina Borbova and Dmitri Soloviev, sits in fifth place.

The other two American dancing duos, Madison Chock and Evan Bates and the Shibutani siblings, Maia and Alex, are hanging on to Top-10 spots going into tomorrow.

FIGURE SKATING – ICE DANCING, SHORT PROGRAM (TOP 10)
1. Davis/White (USA), 78.89
2. Virtue/Moir (CAN), 76.33
3. Ilinykh/Katsalapov (RUS), 73.04
4. Pechalat/Bourzat (FRA), 72.78
5. Bobrova/Soloviev (RUS), 69.97
6. Cappellini/Lanotte (ITA), 67.58
7. Weaver/Poje (CAN), 65.93
8. Chock/Bates (USA), 65.46
9. Shibutani/Shibutani (USA), 64.47
10. Zhiganshina/Gazsi (GER), 60.91

Maia, Alex Shibutani break U.S. Championships short dance record

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KANSAS CITY — Maia and Alex Shibutani broke the U.S. Championships short dance record held by Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White on Friday.

The defending national champion Shibutanis tallied 82.42 points at Sprint Center, easily taking down the Davis-and-White mark of 80.69 set at the 2014 U.S. Championships.

Scores have been higher this season overall, leading to records in international competitions, too.

“Didn’t know it was a record,” Maia Shibutani said. “It was our strongest performance of the short dance so far this season. That’s exactly what we want to be showing right now before we head to the second half of the season.”

The Shibutanis lead by 2.46 points over 2015 U.S. champions Madison Chock and Evan Bates going into Saturday’s free dance (3 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue, three-time U.S. bronze medalists, are again third. Full results are here.

U.S. Figure Skating will send three dance couples to the world championships in two months. The Shibutanis, Chock and Bates and Hubbell and Donohue were those three couples the past two seasons.

The U.S. is the world power in ice dance, impressively rising during Davis and White’s break since Sochi.

The Shibutanis took silver and Chock and Bates took bronze at the 2016 World Championships. Hubbell and Donohue made it three U.S. couples in the top six at worlds for the first time since 1955.

Chock and Bates had been the top U.S. couple since the Sochi Olympics up until last year’s U.S. Championships. The Shibutanis have topped Chock and Bates in their last three competitions together.

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Short Dance
1. Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani — 82.42
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 79.96
3. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 79.72
4. Kaitlin Hawayek/Jean-Luc Baker — 72.60
5. Elliana Pogrebinsky/Alex Benoit — 67.17

Charlie White: ‘Time is running out’ to decide on comeback

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KANSAS CITY — The Olympics are in a little more than one year. Will Meryl Davis and Charlie White be in PyeongChang to defend their ice dance title?

“We don’t know,” Davis told Andrea Joyce on NBCSN during U.S. Figure Skating Championships coverage Friday. “Since we stepped off the ice in Sochi, for us it’s been all about trying new things and enjoying life in a different capacity that we didn’t get to while we were competing. We’re sort of leaving things on the table, and we’ll have to make a decision coming up here.”

Davis and White have not competed since they became the first U.S. Olympic ice dance champions in Sochi. But they have continued to skate together in shows.

Last April, White said that they would have to decide at some point during the 2016-17 season whether they will come back. The season climaxes at the world championships in two months, though there is the world team trophy event in late April.

“Time is running out,” White said on NBCSN on Friday. “We can’t make the decision right before the free dance at the Olympics. It’s something that deserves the time and thoughtfulness because there’s so much sacrifice that goes into being at the top of your game.”

Davis and White have closely followed the ice dance scene in their break. They have seen the rise of French couple Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, a comeback by Canadian rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir that White called “inspiring” and U.S. teammates Maia and Alex Shibutani break their U.S. Championships short dance record Friday.

The U.S. currently has three of the top six couples in the world, and with no more than three Olympic spots available, Davis and White would not be assured of a PyeongChang place if they return.

Davis and White have held microphones at the Sprint Center this week, doing arena hosting and Icenetwork commentary.

“It’s fun to have a new challenge,” Davis said. “A little bit scary. Surprisingly scary.”

Check out NBCsports.com/USFIGS for all-access coverage all weekend.

MORE: U.S. Championships broadcast schedule