Ice dance: It may take two to tango, but three is company for Team USA
It's all over but the medal ceremony.
The only real suspense left in the ice dance competition at the 2010 world championships in Turin, Italy, is whether the United States will earn three places again for the 2011 worlds.
And that is up in the air going into Friday's free dance.
As it stands, the United States has exactly what it needs, the top two finishes adding up to 13 or fewer, to keep its third place. But recent history and the current standings give Team USA good reason to feel optimistic.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are second after Thursday's original dance -- the same place they had at the Olympics. Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates are 11th -- the same place they had at the Olympics -- even though they finished 10th in each of the first two phases of the dance competition.
The third U.S. team, Kimberly Navarro and Brent Bommentre, is 13th.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, like an injury causing them to withdraw, Davis and White will finish no lower than second, as they have an enormous lead (12.53 points) over third-place Italians Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali. The U.S. leaders trail Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada by 1.86.
Samuelson and Bates are 2.02 ahead of the 12th-place Hungarians, Nora Hoffmann and Max Zavonin, the latter a former U.S. competitor. Hoffmann and Zavonin finished behind Samuelson and Bates at the Olympics, and that likely will happen again.
-- Philip HershPhoto: Emily Samuelson hanging on to partner Evan Bates during Thursday's original dance at the World Figure Skating Championships. The two University of Michigan students must hold on to their 11th place standing for the U.S. to earn the maximum three spots for the 2011 worlds. Credit: Yuri Kadobnov / Getty Images