Meryl Davis, Charlie White Ideal Fits as US Figure Skating Ambassadors in Sochi

Lindsay GibbsFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2014

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR PUFFS - Meryl Davis and Charlie White skating at the US Figure Skating Championships in Boston on Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/AP Images for Puffs)
Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Associated Press

Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White have skated their way to six national championships, two world championships and a silver medal in the Vancouver Games in 2010.

Now, as the only American figure skaters who are favored in their individual event in Sochi, Davis and White are trying to win Team USA's first ever ice dancing gold medal in the Olympics.  

Along the way, the dynamic duo hopes to put ice dancing on the U.S. map and lead the figure skating team to a medal in the inaugural team event.

On Saturday, they got off to a great start, skating flawlessly to finish in first place in the ice dance short program portion of the team competition. Their performance launched Team USA back into medal contention.

Steven Senne/Associated Press

I got a chance to talk with the successful pair the day after they captured their sixth straight national title at the U.S. Championships in January and were named to the Olympic team. Davis and White were promoting Puffs tissues, one of the many sponsors they are working with this Olympic year. 

As the gold-medal favorites, Davis and White are already getting the lion's share of attention during the Olympic fortnight, but they were quick to downplay their burgeoning superstardom. 

"We're excited to be a part of such a strong ice dance team, and we're so excited to be going to the Olympics," White said. "But we don't focus on the other stuff too much. We're just focusing on training."

The duo was clearly excited about the team event as well, which gives them an opportunity to win two medals at the Olympics this year.

"It's an exciting prospect," Davis said. "It's a great chance to get to skate again on the Olympic stage, something everyone dreams of.

"The team is so strong, and we're excited to go for a medal for Team USA."

Elise Amendola/Associated Press

Ice dancing is all about hard work and trust, and the two share a work ethic and a skating relationship that has stood the test of time. This was evident even in the interview, where they effortlessly took turns answering questions but also often couldn't help finishing each others' sentences.

Davis thinks that the two complement each other so well because of their dedication to the sport and their similar upbringings. "We have the same core values, I think. We were raised the same way, to respect others."

Of course, it's no surprise that the two have similar foundations—they were practically raised together. They started skating together when they were only eight and nine years old. (Davis is older.) White was a hockey player who was looking to improve his posture, and Davis was a talented but shy skater who needed to be brought out of her shell.

"At first it was awkward, being eight and nine and dancing together," White laughed. However, the two had immediate chemistry and soon were turning the ice into their own personal ballroom.

"In the beginning, I think Charlie was a lot more outgoing then I was, but he rubbed off on me," Davis said. "I was really shy. But we've spent so much time together over the years that we've definitely blended together a bit."

It's clear that off the ice and on, the two are perfectly in sync. They make ice dancing look effortless, with footwork so intricate and lifts so nuanced that it's easy to forget that they're performing on barely there blades.

The Vancouver podium.
The Vancouver podium.Mark Baker/Associated Press/Associated Press

Four years ago in Vancouver, the duo won a silver medal and realized how great they could be.

"It was the catalyst for everything since," White said. "It was our first medal in international competition, and it gave us the confidence to reach the next step. We haven't looked back yet."

The gold medalists in Vancouver were Canada's Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Virtue and Moir, who are training partners with Davis and White, also happen to be the last pair to defeat Davis and White in a competition—the 2012 World Championships—and are the biggest threats to their Olympic gold medal this year.

But even if the upset occurs and Davis and White don't end up on the top of the podium, they've already given the depleted U.S. figure skating team a boost this year, and they have breathed new life into the often-overshadowed sport of ice dancing.

Perhaps most importantly, Davis and White have already provided Americans with a crucial Olympic ingredient: hope. We'll know soon enough if they're able to dance hope into history.


All quotes obtained firsthand.