SPOKANE, Wash. - Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the compulsory dance to take the lead over Olympic silver medalists Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto in an ice dance showdown that could be a preview of the Vancouver Games.
Davis and White scored 45.42 points to set an American record at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships Thursday. They edged Belbin and Agosto by .40 points.
The original dance is tomorrow.
Belbin and Agosto have long been the gold standard in U.S. ice dancing. But White and Davis have been climbing the international ranks and last month won the Grand Prix final.
This is one of the first times the two couples have gone head-to-head in the past few seasons. Belbin and Agosto are five-time U.S. champions.
Evgeni Plushenko aced his last major test before seeking a second consecutive Olympic gold next month in Vancouver by winning the European figure skating championships at Tallinn, Estonia. The Russian's solid free program included his typical technical finesse - and a surprising error. There were gasps in the audience when he unexpectedly doubled a triple lutz, a jump that almost could be seen as routine for him.
Stephane Lambiel of Switzerland, the silver medalist at the 2006 Games, rallied to take second. Brian Joubert of France, last year's champion, won the bronze.
Plushenko said he may have missed it because he's been working on a quad lutz "and maybe I just have to concentrate on the triple." It was otherwise a characteristic Plushenko performance, full of cool, clean jumps, elegant steps and a dash of cockiness in keeping with the tango music.