Meryl Davis, Charlie White win ice dance at NHK Trophy
Canadians Gilles, Poirier finish 5th
Two-time world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White of the United States won the ice dance event at the NHK Trophy on Sunday in Tokyo.
Davis and White, who had a comfortable nine-point lead after Saturday's short dance, finished with 186.65 points after the free dance, over 26 points ahead over Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who were second. Maia and Alex Shibutani of the United States were third with 157.58 points.
Davis and White, who also won Skate America, turned in a strong performance of their "Scheherazade" free dance that featured innovative lifts and intricate footwork.
"Charlie and I were very pleased with our skate today." Davis said. "We're feeling the growth since Skate America. We've been working very hard all season, including in between the two competitions. We are really excited about the direction our free dance is taking."
With Sunday's win, Davis and White secured a berth at the Dec. 5-8 Grand Prix final in Fukuoka, Japan. The Americans have dominated the Grand Prix series for the last five seasons, including a record four consecutive victories at the GP final.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves every year," White said. "With this being an Olympic year we expect to win the gold medal and this was an important step for us."
Canadians Gilles, Poirier place 5th
Canadian ice dancers Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier brought the house down with a new long program to place fifth in their season debut.
Poirier, a 2010 Olympian from Unionville, Ont., was out three months after sustaining a serious leg injury this past spring. His leg didn't seem to be a factor as the couple delivered a clean program packed with original moves that received an ovation from the Japanese crowd.
"We were very solid and that was important for us heading into nationals," said Poirier, who joined forces with Gilles in 2011. "Our training has been so limited over the last month. Starting in Japan was good for us because we always enjoy competing for us and they have a great crowd. We're confident we are on our way to getting even better."
Gilles said the couple had a slight fear of the unknown heading into the event.
"The last couple of weeks been a bit of a roller coaster for us," said the Toronto resident. "To lay down two solid programs was a bit emotional. It is something we will always remember."
Gilles and Poirier were one of two Canadian entries at the competition. On Saturday, Paige Lawrence of Kennedy, Sask., and Rudi Swiegers of Kipling, Sask., were sixth in pairs.
The NHK Trophy is the fourth of six events in the International Skating Union's Grand Prix series. The next event is the Trophee Bompard in Paris Nov.15-17.
With files from The Canadian Press