SOCHI, Russia — After a night of splats and popped jumps in the high-stakes pursuit of men’s figure skating gold, the sport gets back to elegance Sunday at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace, where ice dance gets under way with the short programs.
And if Night One of the competition shakes out as anything other than a border war between Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the 2010 Olympic gold and silver medalists, respectively, it will be a shock.
The rivals, who train under the same Russian coach at the same Michigan rink, have swapped world championships this past Olympic cycle, with the Americans winning the 2011 and 2013 titles, and the Canadians winning in 2010 and 2012. And one couple or the other has claimed gold at 18 of the past 20 international competitions of consequence.
While it’s difficult to imagine any duo breaking their ever-so-delicate choke hold on gold and silver, Sochi’s battle for bronze is wide open, with two Russian couples in the mix: Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev, the world bronze medalists, and Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov.
If Davis and White prevail, they’d become the first Americans to win Olympic gold in dance.
The short programs will get under way at 7 p.m. local time. Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani will be the first of three American duos to compete, due on the ice at 10 a.m. ET. They’ll be followed by Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Davis and White will skate last, and will perform the program set to “I Could Have Danced All Night” that won the dance portion of the inaugural Olympic team competition, in which the U.S. took bronze. Russia won gold; Canada, silver.