It wasn’t exactly the best-kept secret at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, but ice dancers Tanith Belbin and Charlie White are ready to admit they’re a couple.
Not on the ice; off it.
White, who won the Olympic silver medal six weeks ago with partner Meryl Davis, and Belbin, the 2006 Olympic silver medalist with Ben Agosto, have been dating since May, the ice dancers said this afternoon.
White, who grew up in Bloomfield Hills and trains with Davis at the Arctic Figure Skating Club in Canton, said he and Belbin wanted to keep their relationship under wraps during the Olympic season in an attempt to limit distractions.
White, 22, and Belbin, 25, admit they didn’t always succeed; they were spotted holding hands in a mall in January at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Wash., and rumors about their relationship popped up on figure skating forums months ago.
“We didn’t want anything off the ice to take away from the success we were having in competition,” White said. “It’s one thing to be dating someone in figure skating, but to be dating your competitor, it’s a strange situation for everyone not involved in the relationship.
“Tanith and I really like each other a lot, and we didn’t want to put any unnecessary pressure on us.”
White and Davis, two-time defending U.S. champions and reigning world silver medalists, are juniors at the University of Michigan and in their 13th season of competition together.
Meanwhile, Belbin and Agosto, five-time U.S. champions who trained in the Detroit area for 10 years before relocating to Aston, Pa., in 2008, placed fourth at the Vancouver Games. The team withdrew from last month’s world championships to concentrate on show skating.
White and Davis -- who are touring with Belbin and Agosto on the Smucker’s Stars on Ice tour -- will start training for 2010-11 season later this summer. After placing second to Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir at last month’s world championships in Italy, White said he and Davis are motivated to try to win the gold medal next year.
Although Belbin and Agosto haven’t announced their retirement from competitive skating, they won’t be competing next season. Agosto is remaining in the Philadelphia area while Belbin is relocating to Detroit this summer, she said.
“I’m going I’m going to move to Michigan as soon as I possibly can,” Belbin said. “We’re hoping for late June. Now that the season is over, we can enjoy each other in public.”
Belbin and Agosto and Davis and White will be at the Palace on May 2 for the Smucker’s Stars on Ice tour. Showtime is 4 p.m. Other headliners include Todd Eldredge, Sasha Cohen and Jeremy Abbott. Tickets are $28, $48, $83 and $143 and can be purchased by phone (800-745-3000) or at palacenet.com or at any Ticketmaster outlet. For group sales, call 248-377-8638.