Real Detroit Weekly article

Meryl Davis and Charlie White
By Emma Kat Richardson
Feb 9, 2010, 18:02

Meryl Davis and Charlie White
Bringing Love For The D To The Olympics

It’s 5:30 a.m., Eastern Standard Time. The sun is just barely creeping over the horizon, and while the rest of Detroit snoozes peacefully, nursing the unforgiving crunch of an epic hangover, no doubt, Meryl Davis and Charlie White are putting all the slackers to shame with the type of early morning workout that would reduce many a musclebound macho man to pitiful, kicked-puppy-like whimpers.

“When people question the legitimacy of our sport, I say, 'Come watch us practice,'” Davis says with notable pragmatism. “Of course, ice dance stands out from other sports in that we compete in full makeup and flowing skirts, but trust me — it’s all a disguise for a tremendously demanding sport.”

Don’t mind her — she’s just being modest. Indeed, "demanding" doesn’t even begin to cover what this dynamic Detroit duo will be up against at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, kicking off on February 12 in Vancouver. An ice dancing pair since 1997, when the two were only 10-years-old, Davis and White have been training rigorously for more than a decade, sacrificing much in the way of the childhood merriment enjoyed by their less Olympic-oriented peers.

Naturally, growing up in the Detroit area can be enough of a trial itself, without the added burden of a strenuous athletic schedule. Davis — a petite, elfish-looking brunette who smiles with her eyes — grew up in West Bloomfield; and her partner, White, who would be played by Orlando Bloom in the movie version of his life, hails from Ann Arbor. When not seeking out Olympic gold and glory, both currently attend the University of Michigan, and their mutual Detroit upbringing remains an unshakable part of the pair’s foundational aspirations.

“Detroit is, without a doubt, one of the strongest cities in the world when it comes to ice dance,” says Davis. “Growing up in Detroit, Charlie and I have been given every possible opportunity to be successful in our sport. With world class coaching, facilities and local success stories so readily available to us, being Detroiters has definitely been a huge part of our success and helped us along the way.”

Growing up surrounded by ice dance’s crème de la crème has certainly proved advantageous in Davis and White’s skating career — just check out the duo’s impressive collection of awards and accolades. From 2007 on, the two have been racking up enough bronze, silver and gold medals to feasibly rival the gross national product of a small nation, were the medals to be melted down and remolded into currency. After placing first at this year’s National Championships in Spokane, the two are headed off to represent the U.S. (along with Detroit) in their inaugural appearance at the Winter Olympics, where gold medal anticipation is running on high. “I think we definitely feel as though we’ll be representing Detroit at the games,” says White. “We’ve always felt a strong connection to our home city, and I think we share a similar work ethic. Hopefully it’s something the rest of the world will recognize.”

Still, setting aside the fierceness of the competition and the endlessly demanding tenets of training, it all comes back to an unbendable love for the sport and the city that spawned it. “I think the only reason you can truly pursue a sport like ice dance is for the love of the sport. From the moment I started skating, it was something that made me happy,” Davis says. “Charlie and I are very fortunate to be able to live and train in our own backyards. The people of Detroit have such spirit and passion for life and the arts; it’s part of our history! Having the support of the people of Detroit just makes us that much more excited to go to the games and represent Detroit to the best of our ability.” | RDW


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