By Pritha Sarkar
SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Meryl Davis and Charlie White became the first Americans to win the Olympic ice dance title with a sultry, spellbinding performance to Scheherazade at the Sochi Games on Monday.
In a showdown with rivals and Canadian training partners Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the American pair proved to be a cut above the rest by winning with a record total of 195.52.
Davis and White, who also became just the fourth non-Russian couple to scoop ice dance gold, set record scores in each segment of the competition - following up their 78.89 in the short with 116.63 in the long program.
"We're so excited, we're kind of in shock a little. I'm not sure what we're feeling," a beaming Davis told reporters after improving on their silver medal from four years ago.
"It kind of all came together for us and we're so pleased to be here. We're kind of in disbelief.
"I've never skated and visualized the performance at the same time and tonight that's kind of how it felt. It felt great."
White added: "To come away with a gold medal is amazing... And 17 years of hard work was justified."
Virtue and Moir had been hoping to join Russians Oksana Grishuk and Evgeny Platov as the only couples to have won back-to-back ice dance golds but instead had to settle for silver with 190.99.
The Canadian couple, who had charmed the world four years ago by winning gold on home ice in Vancouver, were delighted with their classical interpretation of Petit Adagio, Waltz in Concerto No.2.
They ended their stirring four minute programme with their palms pressed to their hearts but despite earning their season's best score of 114.66 for the free dance, they simply could not topple the Americans, who have been unbeatable for 22 months.
"It's a pretty ambitious programme, and it's a loaded programme, and I think we did it pretty well," Virtue told reporters.
"We felt immense pressure. We trained 17 years for this moment."
Her partner Moir added: "That was our best performance of the year for that programme. It's our baby - and it's special for us to perform it for the last time."
Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov won bronze, which meant couples from Russia or the former Soviet Union have finished on the ice dance podium at every Olympics dating back to the event's introduction in 1976.
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)