One of the Winter Olympics’ closest rivalries will culminate Monday with a another showdown between Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir and the U.S.’s Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
The Americans lead the Canadians by more than 3 points after Sunday's short dance program, a margin that will be difficult to overcome.
If they hold on to their lead, Davis and White will become the first American pair to win ice dancing gold.
The two pairs have been going at it for years, alternating first and second in the world’s biggest competitions. The Canadians are the reigning Olympic champions, but the Americans are world champions, and won their event in the team figure skating competition last week.
But this, from all appearances, is not a bitter rivalry. The four of them train together and remain friends.
And so it continued on Sunday, when Davis and White beat their own record short dance score, leaving Virtue and Moir in a familiar and undoubtedly frustrating position: looking up at the Americans.
The medal winners will be determined in the free dance program on Monday.
Of the two rivals, Virtue and Moir delivered their short dance first on Sunday, improving significantly on their second-place performances in the team competition, in which they seemed anxious and committed small missteps.
This time around, there were no errors or falling out of sync as they skated in black tie outfits to duets by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald.
“It certainly felt more like us out there,” Virtue said. “It felt like a moment we wanted to create."
But their score, 76.33, short of their season’s best, seemed low. Disappointment registered on their faces and in the crowd’s chilly reaction.
Skating last, Davis and White, two-time world champions who are undefeated in two seasons, appeared virtually unbeatable and as close as possible to perfection, beaming and mirroring each other like shadows.
He in black and she in pink, and accompanied by selections from “My Fair Lady,” Davis and White scored 78.89, beating their own world record score.
"I told Charlie in the middle of the program I felt like I was in a dream," Davis said, according to The Associated Press. "It is such a surreal experience."
In the battle for bronze, several pairs are in the running, led by Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia and Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat of France.
Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Maia and Alex Shibutani, who are siblings, do not appear in medal contention. They are in 8th and 9th place, respectively.