SOCHI, Russia -- Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the ice dance gold medal Monday, the first Olympic title in the event for the United States.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada,
the 2010 champions, took silver. Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov
The Americans, the reigning world champs, scored 116.63 points in the free dance to finish with 195.52, 4.53 ahead of Virtue and Moir.
When the music from "Sheherazade" ended with White on a knee, Davis rested her head on his back in exhausted elation. The two started skating together in 1997 in Michigan, and on the biggest day of their career, they were nearly flawless.
"That in itself justified 17
years of hard work," White, 26, said.
As they told the story of the Persian king and the woman who enchants him, White was regal in purple velvet, Davis beguiling in a lavender dress with jewels shimmering on her midriff.
They now have one medal of each color
after winning bronze in the new team event in Sochi.
Fellow American skater Adam Rippon tweeted his congratulations after the performance:
Virtue and Moir became the first North American ice dance gold medalists at their home Olympics in Vancouver. Their free dance to Russian classical music told the story of their own partnership, which also stretches back to 1997.
I was tearing up in the middle of Meryl and Charlie's free dance. So proud and happy for my friends. No one deserves it more. :)!!!!!!— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) February 17, 2014
In a performance at times tender and
others triumphant, Moir kissed her hand at the start and again throughout the
Ilinykh and Katsalapov were just ninth at last year's world championships but are now the latest Olympic ice dance medalists from Russia, finishing 7.51 points behind the Canadians. She's only 19; he's 22. The home fans started cheering when the first few notes of "Swan Lake" played for their free dance, and they were roaring when it ended with Katsalapov collapsed on his knees and Ilinykh weeping.
France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat were fourth, 6.26 points out of bronze. The other U.S. teams, Madison Chock and Evan Bates and siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, were eighth and ninth.
Russia has won 18 of 33 medals in ice dance's Olympic history, but now North Americans own two straight golds.