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Tessa Virtue is aloft during Friday's free dance in Vancouver. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White put it all together in the free dance Friday to win gold at the Four Continents over hometown favourites and friendly rivals Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada.

Davis and White recorded a season-best 96.74 points in the free program at the ISU event at Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver.

The U.S. national champions finished with 192.39 points, less than a point ahead of the Canadians, who train with them in Canton, Mich.

Virtue, from London, Ont., and Moir, from Ilderton, Ont., had led after their Charleston routine in the original dance on Thursday.

Virtue and Moir recorded 94.51 points in the free dance to finish with 191.81 overall. The pair displayed a high degree of difficulty in lifts and transitions while skating to Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, but had a couple of slight stumbles in footwork sequences, one at each end of the program.

"It was obviously an important step for us to be here," said Moir. "If we were able to do it at all, we knew we would be here."

Virtue and Moir were making their season debut against international competition just six weeks before next month's world championships in Los Angeles.

They skipped the Grand Prix season in the fall and early winter because Virtue was recovering from surgery to relieve pain in her shins brought on by chronic exertional compartment syndrome, a condition that stems from overtraining.

Virtue reported no immediate issues after Friday's program.

"Just wanted to get my skates off quickly and get some ice on, but no worries, I'm OK, and looking forward to getting home and having some good rest," Virtue said. "We've got a good chunk of time to train for worlds so I'm looking forward to that."

Virtue and Moir won the Four Continents last year in South Korea, then went on to take silver at the world championships in Sweden.

Canadians also place 4th, 5th

Canadians occupied three of the top five spots at the Four Continents.

Vanessa Crone of Aurora, Ont., and Paul Poirier of Unionville, Ont., held the lead with a new personal best of 88.03 points in the free with just the final three skaters to go, but could not move up.

Crone and Poirer finished with 176.82 points, impressing with their synchronized one-foot turns.

"We wanted to prove to ourselves that we go out and put out solid performances at an extremely important competition, and we're really happy with the way we performed," said Crone. We thought it was extremely solid and everything was well-projected to the audience."

Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates of the U.S. held on to third with 180.79 points.

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje of Waterloo, Ont., were fifth with 168.76 points.

"I can't stop smiling," said Weaver. "It feels so good to skate the way you know how and to know you left it all on the ice."

Later Friday, Joannie Rochette will vie for the women's title after finishing second in the short program behind Yu-Na Kim of South Korea (CBCSports.ca, CBC Bold, 9 p.m. ET).

Cynthia Phaneuf and Amelie Lacoste will also be competing for Canada. They were third and 10th, respectively, after the short program.

With files from the Canadian Press