Davis and White deliver inspired short programme to set new world record

Two-time world champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White set a new world record score in the short dance programme, to bolster their hopes of Olympic ice dancing gold at Sochi’s Iceberg Skating Palace.

The American couple, who claimed silver at Vancouver 2010, set a new world benchmark of 78.89 points as they skated a foxtrot and quickstep to "My Fair Lady".

That placed them 2.56 points ahead of reigning Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, who scored 76.33 for their skate to "Dream a Little Dream", "Muskrat Ramble" and "Heaven".

The ice dance competition at Sochi 2014 is the latest round of a longstanding friendship and rivalry between the two couples, who train together in Detroit (USA) under the tutelage of Russian coach Marina Zoueva.

“Excellent is a word to describe it," said 27-year-old Davis. “I felt like I was in a dream. Everything is coming together.”

Moir and Virtue were equally delighted with their short programme “That's the strongest we've skated this season. We did what we needed to do tonight. We like our chances, said Moir, 26

“We certainly felt more like ourselves out there tonight,” added his 24-year-old partner. “We created the moment we wanted to create. I don't think we could have done it much better.”

Best of rivals

Moir said that while he and Virtue were desperate to defend their title, they were also rooting for their main rivals.

“We want that gold medal badly, but obviously we're fans of theirs as well,” he explained.

“We know they're great skaters, we know how hard they work. I'm not going to jinx it by saying any more, we'll wait and see tomorrow.”

Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov scored a personal best 73.04 for their skate to "Bei mir bist du schoen" and "Sixteen Tons", which put them in third place, ahead of France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat, 72.75.

“It's great to skate at home,” said Ilinykh, who with Katsalapov already has a gold medal as part of the Russian team that won the team figure skating. “You can feel the people watching you are giving you energy and that helps a lot.”

Meanwhile, Pechalat said that she and Bourzat were delighted to be in the chase for a medal, and was confident that they could make their mark in the free dance programme.

“We couldn't have done better. There's nothing in it and we like being the hunter. Tomorrow we're going to have to go for it and chase down the Russians.”

Virtue, 24, and Moir, 26, are bidding to become just the second pair in history to win consecutive ice dancing golds, after Russians Pasha Grishuk and Yevgeny Platov in 1998.