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Only one thing for sure: Virtue and Moir won in "skating skills"

Wondering what made the difference--at least to the judges--in the exciting duel between Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White in the ice dance free skate Monday night?

Not much technically--except for "skating skills."

We'll get to that in a minute.

The two teams received virtually identical technical scorecards. Their programs contained exactly the same level of difficulty (a base value of 41.60) and Virtue and Moir received only a slight edge for overall execution (which includes the judges' grades of execution for each of the elements): 53.10 to 52.80. The two got nearly the same scores for their complex and inventive lifts; Davis and White scored a touch better on their spins; Virtue and Moir had a slight edge on footwork and steps.

A one-point deduction for an extended lift hurt Davis and White, but they really lost out in the program component scores. Only two of the nine judges awarded Davis and White higher marks for "program components"--which include five elements (skating skills, linking footwork/movements, performance, choreography and interpretation/timing).

By way of example, one judge gave Virtue and Moir a 9.75, 9.75, 10.00, 9.75, 10.00, while handing out a 9.25, 9.50, 9.75, 9.50, 9.75 to the Americans.

The judges' results are averaged, with the high and low scores dropped out, resulting in a 57.32 to 55.39 difference.

Interestingly, the judges had differing views regarding the standout in each of the five categories, with at least two or three preferring the Americans in each one. However, all agreed that Virtue and Moir displayed superior or equal "skating skills."

That was the only category in which there was unanimity.

By Amy Shipley  |  February 23, 2010; 3:50 PM ET
Categories:  Figure Skating  
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