One thing became clear after the ice dance frenemies met for the first time in competition this season:
The Olympic judges who will be trying to pick between reigning world champions Meryl Davis-Charlie White of the U.S. and reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue-Scott Moir of Canada are likely to have a delightful and unenviable task.
The way both skated in Friday’s Grand Prix Final short dance at Fukuoka, Japan meant the choice is likely to be between magnificent and marvelous, stunning and sensational, fantastic and fabulous.
So it seemed fitting that both got record scores and the margin between them was infinitesimal, with Davis and White going into Saturday’s free dance ahead by .07 on the basis of a slightly higher component score.
``We both skated well and this narrow margin will be exciting for the fans and hopefully have more people interested in ice dancing,’’ Moir said.
The numbers: 77.66 to 77.59. The previous record score (76.17) was by Davis and White at the 2013 worlds, while Virtue and Moir’s previous best was 74.29 from the 2011 worlds.
``It definitely feels like the best we have put out there all season, and it’s nice to see that on the scoreboard as well,’’ Davis said.
They have the same coaching team, same training base, almost the same medal collection: two world golds and two silvers for each in the past four seasons, 2010 Olympic gold for Virtue and Moir, silver for Davis and White, four (straight) Grand Prix Final golds for Davis and White, three silvers for Virtue & Moir.
The only real difference between them in short dances that included two sections of foxtrot around one of quickstep was in music: the Canadians went for sassy, jazzy with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, the U.S. couple for more lilting and elegant with My Fair Lady.
In the men’s free skate Friday, which the top two finished in obvious exhaustion, Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan gave himself a birthday present with a victory over three-time world champion Patrick Chan of Canada.
Hanyu, who turns 19 Saturday, overcame a fall on his quad salchow opening jump to finish with the second highest free skate (193.41) and overall (293.25) scores in history. Chan skated well until a considerable wobble on his final spin but wound up a rather distant second (280.08).
``I was not satisfied with my performance,’’ Hanyu said. “I was aiming for a perfect program, since it would have been nice to do one before Sochi (the Olympics). I think that I was able to push through the rest of the program (after the missed quad) because of the supporters in Japan.’’
Meanwhile, in Croatia, reigning Olympic and world champion Yuna Kim of South Korea got some generous scoring in her season debut.
Although she badly botched the landing (hand on the ice) of her double axel in the short program at the Golden Spin of Zagreb, a second-tier event, Kim got the highest score (73.37) in the world this season.
Kim had withdrawn from two scheduled Grand Prix events because of a bruised bone in her right foot.
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