This year, the most famous American figure skaters in Sochi might not come from the women's, men's or even pairs' competition. Instead, you might want to get familiar with ice dancing.
That's right, the hottest skaters in America—and the ones with the best shot at a gold in Sochi—are the dynamic ice-dancing duo of Meryl Davis and Charlie White.
The elegant Davis and the vivacious White won their record-setting sixth-straight U.S. Championship in Boston on Saturday, ensuring that they will lead Team USA's figure skating team in Sochi.
As the other factions of U.S. figure skating have struggled in international competitions over the past few years, Davis and White have soared. Since winning the silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics, they have been nearly unbeatable, winning the 2011 and 2013 World Championships and every national competition in sight.
Together, they are trying to become the first Americans to win an Olympic gold medal in ice dancing.
Davis and White will naturally be vaulted to a new height of celebrity as Sochi approaches, but the two already have a devoted following. Thanks to their grace on the ice and undeniable chemistry, they have inspired countless GIFs on Tumblr, and they even have a couples name to cement their pop-culture status—Marlie.
The two grew up 10 minutes apart in Michigan, and have been skating together for over 15 years. In the beginning, White was a single skater who turned to ice dancing to help his posture, and Davis was a shy girl who felt more comfortable skating with a partner than going at it alone. They started skating competitively when they were 10, and the rest is history.
On the ice, that history and connection are evident. Davis and White turn the ice into their ballroom, executing complicated dance steps, lifts and turns in perfect unison. They bring unbridled emotion to their performances, transforming from skaters into storytellers, letting their bodies create art.
To make their Olympic routine as powerful as possible, they enlisted five-time Dancing with the Stars champion Derek Hough to help them choreograph a dance that would take them to the next level.
In addition, the couple's work ethic shouldn't be overlooked. As White told USA Today's Kelly Whiteside, "We kick our butts every day on the ice and off the ice. Everyone has it in them, and luckily we have had coaches who can get it out of us."
So far, so good. The pair blew away the field at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, winning the gold medal over Madison Chock and Evan Bates by nearly 19 points, an unfathomable gap in ice dancing.
Davis/White exquisite. Olympic gold favorites. And to think we in the media used to look at the ice dance as our dinner break. #notanymore— Christine Brennan (@cbrennansports) January 11, 2014
Throughout the years, Davis and White have grown into a pair that complements each other perfectly. According to ESPN, even their families have pretty much blended together as one after so much time traveling together.
Although they are at the top of their sport now, the duo never trained as much as most elite athletes do growing up. They practiced for a couple of hours after school every day, but stayed active in all other areas of their life. Luckily, with White's leadership and positive attitude and Davis' perfectionism, they were able to make the most of their time together.
The Vancouver Games were their coming-out party on the international stage—before their silver there, the pair had never won a medal in a world competition. That strong showing helped them realize how much potential they have.
Since then, they've been virtually unstoppable. The only team to beat them over the past four years is the team that took gold in Vancouver, Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Virtue and Moir, who just happen to be Davis and White's friends and training partners, won the World Championships in 2010 and 2012, and are likely the only team with a chance to knock Davis and White from the top of the podium in Sochi.
But while Davis and White's competition with Virtue and Moir is friendly, make no mistake about it: The duo is going for the Olympic gold. And, thanks to the success they've had over the past four years, there will be millions of American fans tuned in to see them try.