Bryce Davison has a keen sense of peripheral vision that lets him know exactly what his partner Jessica Dube is doing next to him, even when the two are spinning at top speed through the air.
So when Dube's feet came out from under her and she fell in a swoop onto the ice on her triple Salchow on Tuesday — the same jump that proved costly at the Vancouver Olympics last month — Davison knew.
The Canadians, who were hoping to end their season on a high note after finishing sixth in pairs in Vancouver, were a disappointing eighth in the short program at the world championships. Their performance unravelled after Dube fell on their opening side-by-side triple Salchows.
"I am blessed and not quite so blessed at the same time for having a really natural eye spot," Davison said. "I know as soon as I'm breaking out of mine, I have an idea what's going to happen on hers. It's good if I see she's going to be a little scratchy on the landing, I can slow mine down, but I knew as soon as I came out of mine (Tuesday night) that she was on her heel and a little bit short so she was going to bail out the left side."
Dube, from St-Cyrille-de-Wendover, Que., and Davison, from Huntsville, Ont., bronze medallists at the 2008 world championships, scored 59.36 points with their performance to "Requiem For a Dream" by Clint Mansell.
Olympic silver medallists Pang Qing and Tong Jian of China led with 75.28 points, while Russia's Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov were second with 73.12. Olympic bronze medallists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy were third with 69.52.
Anabelle Langlois of Hull, Que., and Cody Hay of Edmonton were 12th with 54.40 points.
Mental stumbling block
The triple Salchow has been a mental stumbling block for Dube for much of this season — she fell in both the short and long program attempting the jump in Vancouver. She has landed them since she was a junior skater, lands them cleanly often in practice, and executed one flawlessly in warmup Tuesday night.
Davison can sense the good jumps, too.
"I have a feeling and I just know when she does the really good ones in practice, just by the sound of it, our edge is the exact same up into the air and we land at the exact same time too," Davison said. "[Tuesday] she was up in the rotating position as I was taking off. So I can tell."
The two had trouble recovering from the fall which slowed their program to a near stop, and they didn't have the same speed and momentum going into their triple twist lift.
"After that mistake, I got stiff in my knees and it was hard to stay focused on the rest, I was really, really focused for the jump, and when it didn't happen…" Dube said, trailing off.
When the music stopped, Dube muttered something to Davison, which he wouldn't repeat when queried about it later.
"You shouldn't say it," he told Dube. "It was worse than the 'Damn it,"' he added, laughing. Dube uttered those words after the short program in Vancouver.
The two said they won't change the jump for next season, as Dube has landed the jump so many times in the past. The problem, she said, is psychological, and the more times she falls, the worse it gets.
Barring a major upset among the seven teams ahead of them, Dube and Davison know they've lost their shot at a medal.
"Do the long for us," Davison said on his approach to Wednesday's long program. "It doesn't really matter as much, we'll try to get as high as we can, but podium is a little far-fetched. Do it for ourselves, enjoy the last skate of the year and do it for our future rather than the moment."