BOSTON (AP) — Meryl Davis and Charlie White didn't have to think about their footwork and spins. Those elements of their short dance were near-flawless, as is frequently the case with the world champions.
They could plunge into telling the story of the selections from "My Fair Lady" at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships on Friday. Davis and White broke their own record with 80.69 points to open a big lead, well on their way to a sixth straight national title.
"This is the first time we felt comfortable enough to let things happen naturally," Davis said. "This is the fifth time we're competing the program. With this program, it's all about being comfortable enough to let things happen naturally, and when you reach a point where it can be just fun, that's what we really enjoy about skating."
Davis and White are more than seven points ahead of Madison Chock and Evan Bates, last year's runners-up. On the final lift, they spun across the ice in a dizzying blur with the tails of White's tuxedo flying behind, and she could look up to the crowd with eyes glowing.
Coach Marina Zoueva had wanted them to skate to this music for several years.
"As we have grown with the program, we fell in love with the program and what it means ... that exuberant joy," Davis said.
For all of Davis and White's accomplishments, they still needed to settle into their programs in this Olympic year, so that things will happen naturally when they get to Sochi. On Friday, they looked ready to try to take that one step up the podium from their silver medal showing at the Vancouver Games.
"Because we put pressure on ourselves throughout our career, it's kind of a healthy pressure," White said. "It's what gets us through the tough times, that we rely on each other."
Chock and Bates posted a career-high 73.41, well above their 70.80 a year ago but still far behind Davis and White. Chock fell in practice Wednesday, crashing hard into the boards, but said she was fine other than a little soreness in her shoulders.
Siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani were third with 68.00 in a repeat of the final standings in 2013. Three teams will go to the Olympics.
The free dance is Saturday.
When the final notes of "There's No Business Like Show Business" ended, Bates barked out, "Let's go!"
Their coach told them before they took the ice, "Skate to win."
"That's good advice," Bates said.
A U.S. silver medal is a major victory with the way their fellow Americans have recently dominated the sport.