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Meryl Davis and Charlie White Win Dance Title at Skate Canada

Meryl Davis and Charlie White (USA) danced to victory and claimed their first gold medal on the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating at Skate Canada International this weekend. Vanessa Crone and Paul Poirier of Canada captured the silver medal in their first senior Grand Prix event while France’s Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat settled for the bronze.

“We felt like we did a good program out there today. We were happy with the way it was received," White said. "We are looking forward to building on this success. It (the first Grand Prix title) means a lot. It’s nice to see all the hard work we put in pay off. Going in each competition generally we don’t focus on placement too much. We just set standards for ourselves in terms of how we want to skate. Obviously getting first place is wonderful.”

The young American team gave a powerful and dramatic performance to “Samson and Dalilah” by Camille Saint-Saens, telling the story of seduction and betrayal. They completed a difficult dance spin (level four), a curve-rotational lift with several changes of position and fast, well synchronized twizzles. The 2008 Four Continents silver medalists earned a level three for both the circular and the midline step sequence, but the last rotational lift only earned a level one. Davis and White received 88.24 points (45.00/44.24) for their free dance and accumulated a competition total of 178.89 points.

“We’ve always enjoyed skating in front of a Canadian audience. We are both very excited to start the season. We’ve worked very hard this summer on both our programs,” Davis said. “Our coach Marina (Zueva) is very excited to put out this program. She told us a few months ago how special this music is to her. I think that performing here in our first competition this season we both are really excited to just get our material out there."

Crone and Poirier, who stood in fifth place following the original dance, skated to “Doce de Coco” and their theme was “A Perfect Day.” The day turned out to be perfect for the 2008 World Junior silver medalists indeed as they produced a technically demanding and flowing dance. The stationary lift with him spinning while holding her as well as the other lifts and the twizzles and the spin were graded a level four. The circular step sequence earned a level three and the diagonal steps were a level two.

“We are just glad that we got good performances out and this is our first Grand Prix," Crone said. "We are very proud of what we did. The crowd was amazing and made us proud to represent Canada.”

The Canadian duo earned 81.89 points (44.40/37.49) and moved up to second with 162.13 points overall. “I think the silver medal is definitely an incredible feat for the first senior Grand Prix that we’ve ever done. Skating in front of a home crowd helped us a lot, it def brought the energy level up and helped us to bring the program to life,” Poirier said.

Pechalat and Bourzat portrayed two clowns in an entertaining circus program that contained two level three footwork sequences and a level four dance spin. However, two errors marred the program. Bourzat slipped after the exit of the serpentine lift and fell and the following straight line lift didn’t receive credit as he didn’t hold her for the required minimum of three seconds.

“This was not a successful competition for us and I’m happy that it is over now. I can’t wait for our second Grand Prix and to make up for it and to do better, because what we did here is not on our level. We are very disappointed with our performance,” Pechalat said.

Bourzat said he and his partner were well preparedf or the event. "We don’t really know what happened. ... This is totally different from what we used to do," he said. "I think it just happens sometimes that we go through a competition without thinking, go out on the ice without our brains,”

Kristina Gorshkova and Vitali Butikov (RUS) finished fourth at 157.83 points in their debut at the senior Grand Prix. They delivered a solid performance to “The Godfather” soundtrack. Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre (USA) who stood in third place after the original dance, dropped to fifth. They had no major errors in their dynamic program to a medley of songs by Fatboy Slim, but only earned a level two for their footwork, twizzles and the dance spin (157.54 points). 2007 World junior champions Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev came in sixth (151.62 points).

Davis and White collected 15 points and will compete again at the Cup of Russia in Moscow. Crone and Poirier got 13 points and are scheduled to compete at the Trophee Bompard in Paris in two weeks. Pechalat and Bourzat picked up 11 points and their next competition is the NHK Trophy in Japan in four weeks.