ToledoBlade SOI article

Article published April 22, 2010
Olympians lead cast of Toledo-bound 'Smucker's Stars on Ice'


Ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White could have hung up their skates last month and called 2010 a success.

But after winning silver at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver in February and silver at the world championships in Torino, Italy, in March, the two University of Michigan students headed to Florida to join the cast of Smucker's Stars on Ice and put in two days of rehearsals before the show opened April 1.

The tour glides into Toledo for a single performance at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Huntington Center.

"It's a very energetic show, a very family-friendly show," Davis said by phone from Boston.

"It's an amazing cast," White added, calling it a great opportunity for people to see some of the most talented skaters in the world in one place.

In addition to Michigan natives Davis and White, the Toledo show features 2006 Olympic silver medalists and 2010 Olympians Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, 2008 U.S. national champion and 2010 Olympian Mirai Nagasu, two-time U.S. national champion and 2010 Olympian Jeremy Abbott, 2006 Olympic silver medalist Sasha Cohen, world champion and six-time national champion Todd Eldredge, two-time world bronze medalist and three-time national champion Michael Weiss, world champion and two-time Japanese ladies champion Yuka Sato, and 2009 U.S. national champion (and Bowling Green native) Alissa Czisny.

The tour has another area connection. Its founder and producer is Scott Hamilton of Bowling Green, one of the most popular and recognized figure skating stars worldwide. He won the men's figure skating gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sarajevo in 1984 and is a member of the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and World Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

Davis and White will be seen in three group numbers in addition to performing their Indian folk dance routine that spectators and television audiences saw during the Olympics and other competitive events this past season.

"We're starting to get into the groove of the shows," White said, pointing out that nightly performances are very different from competitive events during which skaters focus on a few days of intense skating and then can relax.

Touring with the show, "We're really able to just perform and enjoy what we're doing on the ice," Davis added. There are no judges, no scores, no rankings. "It's a lot less pressure."

The tour will visit 41 cities across the country, ending May 30 in Portland, Ore. After that, "we'll take two weeks of vacation and then we'll head back to the rink in Canton [Mich.] and start training for the next year," Davis said.

In the fall, they'll be back in class at the U of M. They took winter semester off for the Olympics.

Davis, 23, and White, 22, were paired by White's coach in 1997, making them the longest-running ice-dance partnership in the history of United States figure skating.

Despite the romance of ice-dance routines and the sometimes passionate feelings that the skaters project, the two aren't a couple off the ice. "We are great friends," White said.

Their partnership has endured, Davis said, because both have a strong work ethic and similar goals.

A successful skating team depends on more than athletic ability, she continued. "I think it's a lot of just meshing well as two people. You need the right combination of characteristics."

The two-time U.S. ice dancing champions won't say for sure whether they plan to compete in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, but "we hope to maintain some sort of figure skating in our lives for a long time," Davis said.

They'll always have Vancouver.

"To win the silver and skate as well as we did," White said, "that's going to be something we look back on for the rest of our lives."

"Smuckers Stars on Ice" comes to Toledo for a show at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Huntington Center. Tickets are $27, $47, $77, and $132 from Ticketmaster outlets, ticketmaster.com, by phone at 800-745-3000, and the arena box office, 500 Jefferson Ave. Information: 419-321-5007 or starsonice.com.

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