Ice dancers aren’t supposed to perform jumps; I suppose that is intended to distinguish them from pairs who do perform jumps, often badly. But that is now true of single skaters as well, of course. Competition has been upping the number of revolutions until everybody started crashing most of the time; it’s safer with politicized judging if your winner is the last man standing. Or lady, of course, if you can see that term applying to the presumably teen-aged ectomorph of he day.
America has loved its ice queens of yesteryear and even respected a few men and pairs in an absent-minded sort of way. But ice dancers? Not in living memory! Well, time has passed and things have changed; America is headed toward a Winter Olympics in Sochi (where?) on Russia’s Black Sea coast. And we’re sending no outstanding men nor pairs and absolutely, no Ice Queen though Americans will compete in all those categories. We’re sending the world’s best ice dancers.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are World Champions who haven’t won an Olympic title. They have raised the difficulty of their discipline to a new level hat so far, none have matched. That does not occur in figure skating very often. If they were doing jumps, they would probably be quads or even, quints. Assuming that they don’t screw up, as any knowledgeable observer of figure skating always interposes, they should have a lock on Sochi.
Or should they? This is figure skating, where a judging scandal at the Salt Lake City Olympics changed the entire judging system. And of all the disciplines in the sport, ice dancing is considered the most subjective for judges. No jumps to make decisions easier… Before winning worlds, Davis and White usually came behind a higher-ranked Canadian couple. The Canadians featured a lyrical, romantic style that contrasted with the American’s athleticism. As of today, each couple has now triumphed over the other. There is little doubt that the Americans are the superior skaters but the Canadians are better off politically; Americans aren’t popular around the world these days. The skating world grapevine gives the Canadians a strong chance to defeat Davis and White one more time.
With luck, both couples will present their best efforts and with more luck, the best team will be crowned, something never certain in ice dancing. We will have to wait to know that. But just now, Meryl Davis and Charlie white are performing the most advanced and difficult ice dancing that this world has ever seen.