Schrager: Davis/White keep upper hand in rivalry with Virtue/Moir

Meryl Davis and Charlie White put the US back in medal contention.

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SOCHI, Russia — If there’™s a Tom Brady and Peyton Manning-like rivalry in the figure skating world, it’€™s the tit-for-tat, near-decade long battle between Canadian ice dancers Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue and American stars Charlie White and Meryl Davis. White and Davis took first place in the ice dancing short program phase of the team figure skating competition on Saturday evening, while Moir and Virtue took second.

Despite years of swapping titles and victories back and forth, Saturday night’€™s victory meant another notch in the ever-expanding belts of Davis and White. The American duo are now undefeated over the past two years. The gap in the two teams’ performances was evident Saturday night.

The skating world is a small one as it is, but the U.S. and Canadian ice dancing teams have the most unique of rivalries in the entire Olympic Games. They both train at the same facility in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Moreover, they’€™re both trained by the same coach, Marina Zoueva. They see each other all the time; they answer questions about each other even more.

The competition was clouded Saturday evening by a brewing controversy stemming from a story reported by L’Equipe, the French sports magazine, in which an anonymous senior Russian coach said Russia and the United States have set up a "œproposed barter" to help each other at the Sochi Olympic figure skating events. Because they are not in direct competition with each other in these two events, the report alleges that the United States would assist Russia win the team gold, while Russia would reciprocate by supporting Davis and White in their quest for gold over Virtue and Moir.

SOCHI OLYMPICS IN PICTURES

Neither Davis and White nor Moir and Virtue would pay much regard to the report after their performances Saturday, dismissing such claims in the post-competition mixed zone. "The best thing about being an athlete,"€ Moir said, "€œis that this is none of our concern."

"That’€™s out of our control,"€ Virtue said. "We’€™ve been feeling amazing. It’s a great venue. A wonderful crowd."

White appeared thrown off by the L’€™Equipe report. "That’€™s the first time we’€™re hearing that. We’€™ve been together for 17 years, with all the ups and downs. We live by our own expectations. We don’t let any external factors — big or small — €”play into the equation."

On the ice Saturday evening, White and Davis got the best of their arch-rivals. Off of it, both sides showed class and restraint.

They’€™ll square off again in a few days during the non-team ice dancing competition. As Moir left the press area with his teammate by his side, he strode confidently and shrugged off Saturday night’s second-place finish.

"€œWeek 2,"€ he said with a nod. "€œWe’€™re a Week 2 country."

The rivalry rages on.