SOCHI, Russia -- Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the gold medal in ice dance Monday, the first Olympic title in the event for the United States.
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, the 2010 champions, took silver. Russia's Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov captured bronze.
Davis and White won silver in Vancouver, but in the four years since have overtaken the Canadians, their training partners in Detroit.
The Americans scored 116.63 points in the free dance to finish with 195.52, 4.53 ahead of Virtue and Moir.
Davis and White started skating together in 1997, and on the biggest day of their career, they were nearly flawless. When the music from "Sheherazade" ended with White on a knee, Davis rested her head on White's back in exhausted elation.
"That in itself justified 17 years of hard work," White said of their performance.
As the music swells over the final minute of the program, their feet are in nonstop motion yet every movement is intricately choreographed. Their lifts are a blur as White spins across the ice with Davis held aloft.
They now have one medal of each color after winning bronze in the new team event in Sochi.
Virtue and Moir became the first North Americans to win Olympic ice dance gold at their home Olympics in Vancouver. Their free dance to Russian classical music Monday told the story of their partnership, which also stretches back to 1997.
In a performance at times tender and others triumphant, Moir kisses her hand at the start and several times throughout the program.
Ilinykh and Katsalapov were just ninth at last year's world championships but are now the latest Olympic ice dance medalists from Russia. She's only 19; he's 22. The home fans start cheering when the first few notes are played from "Swan Lake" in their free dance.
France's Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat were fourth.