Meryl Davis, Charlie White win title
ONTARIO, Calif. -- Meryl Davis and Charlie White picked up where they left off last season -- atop the medals podium.
The Americans skated an elegant routine to win the ice dancing title at Skate America on Saturday, following up the world championship they claimed in April.
Davis in a sparkling purple dress and White in black tails floated over the ice to classical music and were rewarded with a standing ovation from the sparse crowd at the first Grand Prix meet of the season.
"We definitely felt the crowd behind us and that definitely makes a difference, especially when it's your first time out there and you might be a little nervous," White said.
The Americans totaled 178.07 points to win for the second consecutive year, beating Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat by 21.78. The French couple -- he dressed as a pharaoh and she as a mummy in bandages -- had 156.29.
American Isabella Tobias, a former New York City Ballet dancer, and Deividas Stagniunas of Lithuania took the bronze at 132.58. They got into the event when another couple dropped out.
In the men's competition, Michal Brezina of the Czech Republic hung on to win despite a slew of mistakes in his free program.
The Chinese duo of Zhang Dan and Zhang Hao led after the pairs short program with 62.85 points. Americans Caydee Denney and John Coughlin were second at 59.62 in their first competition together.
Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov of Russia were third at 59.62 despite him falling on the couple's opening triple toeloop. The two couples from Germany also had falls.
In the women's short program, American Alissa Czisny hit a triple lutz-double toeloop on her opening combination in an elegant performance that put her first at 64.20.
"I guess that was OK," she said. "I was really nervous."
Carolina Kostner of Italy made a couple of minor mistakes, but was good enough for second at 60.23.
Caroline Zhang of nearby Brea, Calif., stumbled out of a double axel in an otherwise clean routine to take third at 55.05.
Davis and White received five perfect 10s -- one for performance, two for choreography and two for interpretation/timing.
"It's a good sign we're heading in the right direction," White said. "We want the whole thing to flow seamlessly. It's just a matter of repetition and focus."
Bourzat has been sick with a cold and bronchitis and he had a coughing fit afterward.
"It was a nightmare for me, but we made it through the end without any major mistakes," he said. "I will go to the doctor and then take some rest."
Brezina hit his opening triple axel and then things went downhill quickly, but he won in part because of his commanding lead following the short program Friday.
Brezina didn't do his first planned quad toeloop and instead did a triple skating to music from "The Untouchables." He popped his attempt at a quad salchow, popped a triple loop and then fell on a triple lutz late in the program. He earned $18,000 for his first-ever Grand Prix win.
Kevin van der Perren of Belgium was second at 212.48, narrowly edging Takahiko Kozuka of Japan, who totaled 212.09. American Richard Dornbush was fourth at 202.27.
Van Der Perren and Dornbush were the only two men to land fully rotated quads.
Brezina pounded his head after he finished in front of a sparse crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena in this city 40 miles east of Los Angeles.
He had vowed to do consecutive quads in his free skate, but after watching several of his competitors fall, his coaches told him no.
"They saw everything and I kind of think they want to play the game in the casino. If you can play safe, play safe," Brezina said. "I was kind of mad. I'm pretty sure if I would go for a quad it would be OK."
He plans to try it at his next competition.
"I want to prove to my coaches the quad will be in there, even if they say no," he said.
Brezina missed last season's Grand Prix circuit while recovering from surgery to repair a varicose vein his stomach.
"It messed up your head," he said. "There was something I was always scared about."
Van Der Perren, a two-time European bronze medalist who at 29 is contemplating retirement, won his first medal at a Grand Prix meet since Skate Canada in 2007. He hit his opening quad in a routine to "The Man in the Iron Mask" and won the free skate after being fourth in the short program.
Kozuka, silver medalist at worlds, fell on both his quad and his triple lutz.
Dornbush hit his quad for just the second time in a competition, although the landing was low. He fell on his final jump, a triple loop, while skating a Western-themed routine to music from the Clint Eastwood movies "A Fistful of Dollars" and "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press
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