By Nancy Armour Associated Press
SPOKANE — There’s no arguing with Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s lead. No questioning the authenticity of their Bollywood-style dance, either.
Davis and White won the original dance Friday night, extending their lead and moving one step closer to an upset victory over Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Davis and White are 1.62 points ahead going into Saturday’s free dance, a margin that is difficult to make up in dance.
“It’s a slight confidence boost, but nothing we’re going to think about,” White said. “We know what we have to do.”
In original dance, couples can create any kind of dance that falls within an assigned theme. This year it’s country/folk.
Davis and White’s original dance has become a viral hit in India and among people with ties to South Asia. One video of their OD has been viewed almost 236,000 times on YouTube, astronomical numbers for a skating video, and it’s gotten high praise on several Web sites celebrating Indian culture.
“We can’t speak for anyone else, but it was very important for us to do research and do the theme justice, so as not to offend anyone or do anything off-base,” Davis said.
There certainly weren’t any complaints Friday night.
Davis and White’s performance was non-stop entertainment that masked their high technical difficulty. They flew across the ice and never slowed for a second, not even in their section of twizzles which they paired with arm and hand movements. You know how hard it is to pat your stomach and rub your head at the same time? It’s like that — only on skates and about 10 times harder.
“We wanted to connect with the audience and the judges because that’s such a big part of our dance,” White said.
Their only flaw was a slight bobble in their last section of twizzles, traveling spins.
Belbin and Agosto have long dominated U.S. dance, winning five straight titles and the silver medal at last year’s worlds.
Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, last year’s silver medalists, jumped from fourth to third with a crowd-pleasing Dixie Chicks medley. That’s a significant move because the United States has three spots at the Vancouver Games.