Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir brought down the house tonight with an awe-inspiring free skate that earned them their nation’s — and in fact, North America’s — first-ever gold medal in Olympic Ice Dancing. Virtue-Moir’s total three-dance score of 221.57 bested the figure posted by 2010 silver medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States by a margin of 5.83 points.
The Olympic ice dancing bronze went to reigning World Champions Oksana Domnina and Maksim Shabalin of Russia, while the popular American tandem of Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto came in fourth, perhaps the most disappointing of all Olympic finishes. The third American pair, Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates, set a new season-high mark for their free dance, and finished a very respectable 11th in the competition.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White were the first of the gold medal contenders to perform their Olympic Ice Dancing free skate. They took to the ice with a striking dance set to music from The Phanton of the Opera. Their strong program was marked by difficult lifts, sharp lines, and amazing footwork, and they were rewarded with the second-highest free skate score of the night.
Virtue and Moir, dancing to Mahler’s Symphony No. 5, offered up a sensual, graceful, romantic and quietly captivating routine that seemed a sharp contrast to Davis-White’s dance. Clad in pure white, Virtue lived up to her name and she and Moir seemed to float over the ice. To call it a beautiful program would be a gross understatement.
Bronze medalists Domnina and Shabalin danced dead last, and offered up a good but not perfect and certainly not gold medal-worthy routine. Set to The Double Life of Veronique, the dance put Domnina and Shabalin’s strong theatrical skills to good use. It may simply be memories of their bizarre original dance clouding my judgment of their free skate, but I simply wasn’t overwhelmingly impressed. And based on their own reactions to their final score, neither were they.
I’d be remiss if I failed to present the ‘you go girl’ award of the Olympic Ice Dancing competition to France’s Isabelle Delobel, who finished 6th with partner Olivier Schoenfelder. Delobel gave birth to her first child only four months ago, yet still managed to be fit enough to compete — and do well, to boot — in the 2010 Vancouver Games. That’s dedication.
Now for the ugly truth. Although the Olympic ice dancing competition aired live on the East Coast, it was, as nearly all Vancouver Olympic events have been, broadcast on tape delay for those in Mountain and Pacific regions. A visit to the NBC Olympics official website to check the primetime television schedule ruined the surprise for me, and likely for many other West Coasters who tried to remain unspoiled: A headline story on the front page of NBC Olympics spilled the results before the program had even aired in the Pacific timezone.
NBC’s continued disrespect for those in the Vancouver timezone is offensive and insulting at best; solid reason for later boycotts at worst. Just a tip to NBC execs: If you’re going to make us wait to see the action, please don’t spoil it using your website, especially when we’re doing something as innocent as looking up your lousy television schedule.
2010 Olympic figure skating action continues tomorrow night with the women’s short programs. For a preview of the competition including a start list, please click here.
NBC Broadcast of the 2010 Olympic Ice Dancing Finals, February 22, 2010