Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Meryl Davis, Charlie White eye Olympic gold after record U.S. title

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Meryl Davis and Charlie White took care of business in Boston. The next goal is to make American history in Sochi.

Davis and White, the 2010 Olympic silver medalists, won their record-breaking sixth straight U.S. Championship in ice dancing on Saturday.

In a class of their own, they padded a lead built from the short dance Friday and won with 200.19 total points and by a comfortable margin of 18.75.

They received a standing ovation at TD Garden in Boston after performing a “Scheherazade” free dance, received a perfect 60-point component score and became the first couple to break 200 points at a U.S. Championships since ice dance dropped from three programs to two in 2011.

Can they put their performance in perspective?

“It’s really hard right now,” White said on NBC. “We’re so proud of everything we’ve accomplished, and it meant so much to be able to come in here, take that title and head into the Olympics with it.”

Davis and White can turn their focus to the Olympics, where they are favored to become the first U.S. couple to win gold in ice dance.

“We’re working to earn gold,” Davis said on NBC. “We’re working really hard for it.”

They’ll lead a U.S. Olympic Team of three couples that appears cut and dry, as opposed to the drama-filled pairs. The official team that is based largely but not solely off U.S. Championships results will be announced Sunday around noon ET.

The top three couples from the short dance Friday remained the same after the free dance. Madison Chock and 2010 Olympian Evan Bates and siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani followed Davis and White.

Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis were also second and third at the 2013 U.S. Championships and were the top U.S. couples behind Davis and White during the Grand Prix season.

Chock, Bates, the Shibutanis and nearly the rest of the world appear to be fighting for bronze in Sochi.

Davis and White, who haven’t lost in nearly two years, are thought to be challenged by one couple — Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who happen to be their training partners in Canton, Mich.

Virtue and Moir are the only couple to relegate Davis and White to silver in the last four years — at the 2010 Olympics, 2010 World Championships, 2012 World Championships and 2012 Four Continents Championships.

Virtue and Moir are competing in the Canadian Championships this weekend, where they scored 76.16 points in the short dance Friday and were to perform their free dance later Saturday.

Comparing results from nationals competitions isn’t an exact science, but Davis and White scored 80.69 in the short dance in Boston on Friday.

The other top U.S. ice dancers bring international experience.

Bates finished 11th at the 2010 Olympics with partner Emily Samuelson, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in September 2010 and changed partners to Chock in summer 2011.

The Shibutanis, who have skated together for 10 years, are set to make their first U.S. Olympic Team after their strong performance to a Michael Jackson medley Saturday.

The affectionately known ShibSibs are the 2011 world bronze medalists and haven’t finished lower than third in their four senior-level U.S. Championships appearances.

“What we’re really proud of is the way we skated today and handled this whole week,” Maia Shibutani told reporters. “So if we were to be on the team it would be an absolute dream come true.”

Ice Dance Results
1. Meryl Davis/Charlie White — 200.19
2. Madison Chock/Evan Bates — 181.44
3. Alex Shibutani/Maia Shibutani — 170.44
4. Madison Hubbell/Zachary Donohue — 168.27

U.S. Championships broadcast schedule

Chinese figure skating judges banned for biased Olympic scoring

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Two Chinese figure skating judges were suspended by the International Skating Union for biased judging at the PyeongChang Olympics.

Chen Weiguang and Huang Feng had “preferential marking” for top Chinese skaters Jin Boyang (fourth place in PyeongChang) and the silver medalist pairs’ team of Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, respectively, according to the ISU.

Chen was banned two years and excluded from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Huang got a one-year ban.

Chen awarded her highest grades of execution scores of the men’s competition to Jin, as well as her second-highest program components scores, trailing only gold medalist Yuzuru Hanyu. Both sets of scores, in both the short and long programs, were out of line with the other eight judges.

“There is evidence of preference for the Chinese skater and prejudice against his strongest competitors,” an ISU report read. “Her marks were completely unrealistic.”

The pairs’ judge Huang “obviously favored his pair also vis-à-vis the other top candidates for the Olympic gold medal,” the ISU said in a report, referencing inflated scores for Sui and Han and lower scores for gold and bronze medalists Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot of Germany and Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford of Canada.

Huang was warned one month before the Olympics by the ISU for biased judging at the December 2017 Grand Prix Final pairs’ event.

Both suspensions are subject to appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

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Javier Fernandez to skip Grand Prix, still compete next season

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Javier Fernandez, who in PyeongChang became the first Spanish Olympic figure skating medalist, will skip the fall Grand Prix series but return for January’s European Championships, which could be his final competition.

Europeans will be Fernandez’s focus for the season, his agent said Tuesday.

Fernandez, 26, added an Olympic bronze medal to his 2015 and 2016 World titles. He has said that his third Olympics in PyeongChang would be his last. But Fernandez did not say he would retire after the Winter Games, though he did skip the world championships in March.

Fernandez now plans to compete in his 13th straight European Championships in Minsk in January. He won the last six titles. It’s unknown if he will continue on to the world championships in Saitama, Japan, in March.

In Fernandez’s absence, the top male singles skaters in the fall Grand Prix season should be double Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, PyeongChang silver medalist Shoma Uno and American Nathan Chen, who was fifth at the Olympics after a disastrous short program but ran away with March’s world title by the largest margin in history.

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