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Local duo in 10th at skating championships

| Friday, Jan. 22, 2010

SPOKANE, Wash. — Seton Hill University students Katie Wyble, of Murrysville, and Justin Morrow, of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., are in 10th place after Thursday's compulsory dance competition at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

Wyble and Morrow, who are competing in the U.S.' top ice dancing event for the first time, recorded a 23.07 score that puts them well behind leaders Meryl Davis and Charlie White (45.42) and runners-up Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto (45.02).

Davis and White set an American record at the event, which is a prelude to the Vancouver Games. The original dance competition is today.

"It's very important to finish first," White said. "We want to go into the Olympics as the top U.S. team. That means a lot. We want Olympic gold, so we want to go in as the top dogs."

Belbin and Agosto are five-time U.S. champions and Olympic silver medalists. They have been among the world's best ice dancers for the better part of a decade now, and their dominance in the United States was unchallenged. But as they adjusted to a coaching change last season and some untimely injuries, Davis and White were quietly rising in international stature.

As reigning Olympic and world silver medalists, Belbin and Agosto will go to Vancouver as gold medal contenders. Beat them, and Davis and White will be in the mix, too, along with Russian world champions Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin and Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

"It felt really good," Davis said of her Golden waltz routine. "We worked tremendously hard on that dance — harder than any compulsory in the past, so we felt really confident."

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