Defending ice dancing champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White may have opted to sit out the 2014-15 figure skating season, but a pair of American couples filled the duo’s well-heeled shoes at Skate America 2014, taking gold and silver in the first competition of the ISU Grand Prix season on Oct. 25 in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The finish marked the first time in Grand Prix history that Americans have finished one-two in ice dance.
Sochi Olympians Madison Chock and Evan Bates were in control throughout the competition, placing first in both the Oct. 24 short (68.96) and Oct. 25 free dance (102.07) rounds. Their final competition mark of 171.03 bettered their former personal best score of 167.59, which they set at the 2014 World Championships in Saitama, Japan, where they placed fifth.
The silver went to siblings Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani, who finished the competition with a cumulative score of 160.33. Finishing well behind the top two couples with a total score of 143.87 were bronze medalists Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin of Russia. The third American couple in the mix, Anastasia Cannuscio and Colin McManus, placed fifth overall with a total mark of 135.61.
The gold and silver medal finishes put Chock and Bates and the Shibutanis in good position to earn berths in December’s Grand Prix Final event, which was topped by Davis and White in 2013. Chock and Bates are scheduled to compete again at the Rostelecom Cup Nov.14-16 in Moscow, Russia, while the Shibutanis have been assigned to the Cup of China in Shanghai Nov. 7-9. With Davis and White as well as Canadian super stars Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir out of contention for the year, the sport is ready to welcome a new champion.
Skate America 2014 will continue with the awarding of the medals in the men’s competition on Oct. 25, and the women and pairs on Oct. 26. The Grand Prix series resumes Oct. 31 through Nov. 2 with Skate Canada 2014.