Canton article

Warm Reception for Ice Dance Champs Meryl Davis and Charlie White

Davis and White skated to ice-dance gold medal for the ISU World Figure Skating Championship.

Meryl Davis and Charlie White have returned to their training grounds after earning gold at theWorld Figure Skating Championship, and they couldn’t be happier.

The Canton community has embraced its ice dance championship team, back after a whirlwind of competition followed by a vacation.

Davis and White placed first in ice dance at the International Skating Union World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow on April 30. Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir place second and Maia and Alex Shibutani, a brother-sister team, came in third.

This was the first time an American team won the competition and the first time three teams representing North America placed first, second and third. All three teams train at the Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton and are members of the Arctic Figure Skating Club.

“Canton isn’t really on the map I don’t think for too many things internationally,” White said. “So it’s nice to put it on the map and let people know that it’s a special place.”

Davis said that communication has been coming from all around the world to express happiness for the team and gratefulness too.

“It’s just really special to be able to share this success with all of the people who have really meant a lot to us over the years,” she said. “Our rink definitely has a special bond…getting to experience that success with everybody is just really exciting for all of us.”

Davis and White are both Royal Oak natives who attend school in Ann Arbor. Davis' hometown is West Bloomfield and White hails from Bloomfield Hills, but both are often in Canton.

“The people in the community are just so friendly and so welcoming and so supportive of all of us that it really is a special place,” Davis said “It’s a community that I think is very happy to support other people’s success.”

The amount of time spent training together in Canton has not only bonded the team tighter, but bonded the skaters to the community also.

“We’ve been closely tied to the Canton community for a while now,” White said. “The support for figure skating is tremendous.”

The welcome home has come not only from Canton, but the entire Detroit area. Davis and White said they were honored to throw out the first pitch at Tuesday's Tigers game.

“They celebrate us all as their own,” Davis said. “It’s a wonderful thing.”

White said that throwing out the pitch was a great feeling. The reaction they got from Tigers fans made the moment even more special.

“I think everyone from the Detroit area is always really proud of the hometown athletes that are able to represent the area well,” White said. “It was great … we got a really warm reception.”

Craig O’Neill, manager of the Arctic Edge Ice Arena, couldn’t say he was all that surprised by the teams’ results at the competition. He sees how hard they train every day. But seeing all three medalists team come from his rink was amazing.

“It’s crazy, it’s unbelievable,” O’Neill said. “I think that probably anybody that lives in Canton … if they know anything about figure skating, they probably get shivers down their spine.”

Marina Zoueva and Igor Shpilband coach all three of the medalist teams. Zoueva was also not surprised by White and Davis win. She said the team's performance could not have gone better.

“For me it’s not like a big surprise,” Zoueva said. “I always thought if they skate well it’s possible.”

The confidence that Zoueva has in her athletes is mirrored by the admiration that the athletes have for their coaches.

“I think it’s a very special thing for Igor and Marina to experience,” Davis said. “I think it’s definitely a testament to how talented they are and how much work they put into our sport and what they contribute to the world of ice dance.”

It takes great coaches to make a championship team, but it also takes hard work, which is what made the victory even sweeter for White.

“We knew that no matter what happened we could be really proud of the effort we put into the season and how hard we worked,” he said. “Being able to win after that feeling was the best part. The realization that all of your work pays off in the end, that’s really what you work for.”

The duo has been skating together for 15 seasons, a long time considering White is 23 and Davis is 24. They have been training at Arctic Edge for six seasons now, all of them with Shpilband and Zoueva.

After the competition, Davis and White both went on vacations, but returned to the area about two weeks ago. Davis said the team is excited to get busy on new routines for the season ahead — a season that both skaters are eager to begin.

“We’re off to a good start that’s for sure,” White said.

Davis said that a plan is in the works for a celebration of the Ice Dancers’ achievements in June. The plan is being put together by Arctic Figure Skating Club, Arctic Edge Ice Arena and Canton Leisure Services. Details will be announced soon.

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