SOCHI, Russia – With nine more couples to compete, the U.S. silver and bronze medalists in ice dance stand 2-3 in the short program at the Sochi Olympics.
Skating 14th among 24 duos, U.S. bronze medalists Maia and Alex Shibutani vaulted into the lead, earning 64.47 points from judges, their season’s best. The siblings, whose parents met as musicians while studying at Harvard, skated to a jazzy Michael Buble medley.
They were immediately overtaken by U.S. silver medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates, who also earned season-high marks, 65.46. Chock and Bates were then overtaken by Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte.
Two-time and defending world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White are scheduled to skate last among the 24 couples. The top 20 will advance to Monday’s free skate. Davis and White are seeking to become the first Americans to win Olympic gold in a discipline long dominated by Russia and former Soviet states.
The lone figure skating discipline to permit music with lyrics, ice dancing is highly theatrical. Skaters assume characters and enact a narrative within fairly strict guidelines.
No jumps or throws are allowed in ice dance, unlike pairs. Routines are meant to simulate ballroom dancing, instead. The skaters must remain no more than two arms’ lengths apart and execute their spins in tandem. Lifts are permitted, but none can involve hoisting a skater over the head. Couples are judged on the precision of their footwork, as well as more subjective qualities such as their choreography, rhythm and interpretive skills.