Vanity Fair article

Vancouver 2010 Olympics Watch: Ice Dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White

“The American public is fascinated with dance right now,” adds White, “We’re capitalizing on that movement.”

The team packs their programs with innovative elements and chooses accessible songs. For instance, when selecting the requisite folk music for their original program, Davis and White seized theSlumdog Millionaire moment and chose traditional Indian folk music. The unconventional decision worked. At the International Skate Union’s Grand Prix final in December, the Indian-inspired original dance swept the competition. The YouTube clip got 240,000 hits.

Last weekend, that same dance helped them beat the most successful U.S. ice-dancing team ever, their former training partners and rink-mates, Tanith Belbin, 25, and Ben Agosto, 27.

Vancouver is the next stop for Davis and White’s program, which also includes a free dance to an Andrew Lloyd Webber medley. They will compete alongside Belbin and Agosto. Both teams are favored to medal, although in what order is anyone’s guess. Because of their age gap and various injuries, the pairs have rarely competed against each other. One might suspect a rivalry between them, but it sounds more like camaraderie.

“In a lot of ways it’s comforting to compete against people you know,” says Davis, discussing Belbin and Agosto as well as the leading Canadian ice-dancing team Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. “But, yes, it’s strange to try to beat your best friends.”

White adds, “When you’re out on the ice, you’re competing against yourself. You’re trying to prove to the judges that you’re the best. So when you’re off the ice, it’s easy to be friendly.” (The fact that Belbin and Agosto are retiring may add to this good-natured feeling.)

Davis and White are new on the international circuit, but they’ve been skating together for 14 years. That’s longer than any other U.S. team. When the pair first hit the ice, he was eight years old and she was nine. White recalls, “At that age, you don’t know what to do with someone of the opposite sex. You especially don’t know how to dance with them. It took awhile for us to be able to look at each other while we were skating.”

Now they’re in step, even attending the University of Michigan together.

“We took a year off after high school because we were really burned out, but it really wasn’t us to just focus on one thing,” says Davis, “Now that we’re living on campus and attending classes, we’re so much happier. It’s really enhanced our career and who we are as athletes.”

Davis and White have interests outside their sport, too, a rarity among elite athletes. White is a big hockey fan. He’s hoping to meet some of his favorite players in the Olympic village. Davis is a member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority, although she concedes that she goes to bed when most of her friends are going out.

“Our close friends understand,” says White.

“I don’t think we’re party animals anyway,” says Davis, laughing.

At least not off the ice.


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