BOSTON - Defending Olympic silver medallists Meryl Davis and Charlie White earned their sixth consecutive national ice dance title Saturday at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
They finished with 200.19 points for a cushion of almost 20 points over the second-place team of Madison Chock and Evan Bates. Their sixth national championship broke the record for ice dance set by Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto.
The reigning world champions gave an energetic and emotional routine dance "Sheherazade" by the Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov to win. Bates and Chock were second with 181.44 points.
Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani 170.44 were third.
Earlier, Simon Shnapir and Marissa Castelli won the pairs championship. The championship ladies free skate was scheduled for later Saturday. The men's championship is on Sunday.
The U.S. Olympic figure skating teams will be announced Sunday. The top three in dance and top two in pairs are expected — but not guaranteed — to get spots.
After showing up to a mid-week news conference in a Boston Bruins T-shirt and ski cap, Shnapir turned to a Saville Row-style shirt and tie — accessorized by a gun holster — for a James Bond-themed routine with Castelli that earned them the pairs title.
"I grabbed her hand and I said, 'Let's just stay out here for a second and enjoy this moment,'" Shnapir, of suburban Sudbury, said after the victory put them in position for a spot on the U.S. team for the Sochi Olympics. "Who knows if we'll ever have an opportunity like this again?"
Skating to the music from Skyfall, Castelli and Shnapir totalled 205.71 points to protect the lead they built with the top performance Thursday in the short program.
"Right now we're just still in shock ourselves," said Castelli, of Cranston, R.I. "We're just trying to process everything."
Felicia Zhang and Nathan Bartholomay finished second with 201.72 points. Caydee Denney and John Coughlin moved up to third, with 201.43, after receiving the highest score in Saturday's free skate.
"We didn't leave anything on the table. We skated just as hard and as passionate as we could," Bartholomay said. "We're both just completely on Cloud 9 right now. We are aware that second place is not locked in. But we gave it everything we had against some tremendous competition."
Skating in front of their home crowd on the rink the Bruins call home, Shnapir tossed Castelli high into the air for a triple twist and then threw her into a high-point value quad salchow that she finished with a fall — their only major mistake of the routine. He also did a triple toe loop when she went around twice, costing them some points.
They were shaken, but nor stirred.
"We left some points on the table, but we're really thrilled with the result here," Shnapir said, adding that they did not consider ditching the quad. "There really wasn't a decision. We'd been doing it all year. ... We don't make any changes last minute."
When they finished at the centre of the rink where their hometown Bruins play, Shnapir struck the Bond pose: standing sideways with his hands up, ready to turn and fire. The crowd showered them with appreciation and the judges did the same, handing them scores of 132.58 for the free skate — the third best on the day, but good enough to protect their lead.
That's because they finished the short program more than six points ahead of the second-place Zhang and Bartholomay. The 2013 third-place finishers skated a clean program and earned 135.22 points to a mistake-free Les Miserable routine that brought the crowd to its feet.
Denney and Coughlin, skating to Phantom of the Opera, earned the highest score of the day with 136.03.
After years of narrow pairs fields, this year's competition was deeper, with a half-dozen teams capable of reaching the podium at nationals.