Michigan Daily article (Reflection on Worlds)

Michelle Narov
Daily Staff ReporterJuly 4th, 2011

After winning the silver medal in the 2010 Olympic games in Vancouver, LSA students Meryl Davis and Charlie White began the 2011 ice dancing season with one goal in mind: to leap to the top of the podium at the World Ice Dancing Championships in April.

Months later, after countless grueling training sessions and one ten-hour flight to Moscow, they not only achieved their goal, but also made history as the first American team to do so. On top of all of that, they still plan to take classes at the University in September.

The reality of the win didn’t set in for the pair until they were interviewed in the “kiss-and-cry” — a playful term ice dancers use to describe the area where they receive their scores after their names have been announced, Davis said.

“It was pretty surreal,” she said. “The interviewer asked us questions that made us think a bit more, and some questions about what it meant for us to win. In that context we were forced to think about the relevance of what had happened. It was so exciting.”

White said they both felt the pressure mounting as they waited to compete after being randomly selected to skate last in the competition — a daunting task even for well-seasoned competitors.

“It is really nerve wracking,” White said. “It takes sort of a mental toll because you have to wait after you warm up on the ice about 40-50 minutes where you’re just sitting there listening to everyone finish, wishing you had somehow drawn another number.”

Adding to the pressure, they were preceded by their former competitors and close friends, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who received the gold medal at the Olympics in 2010.

Davis said this was not the first time she and White had skated last in a competition and their 15 years of experience together was a substantial advantage.

“We’ve been doing this for so long that nerves are just a part of the game,” she said. “We just try to incorporate nerves, in a healthy extent, into what we do.”

Davis added that when she and White finally made it onto the ice at the World Championships, they did so with the mentality that they had nothing to lose.

“Charlie and I talked to each other a little bit right before we started our program,” she said. “We said all we can do is give it our best.”

White and Davis said their routine was a tango, which presented a greater level of difficulty for them. While it took a substantial amount of time and training for them to develop the technique needed for their performance, they both said the extra effort paid off.

“We wanted to make sure it was a good performance to represent the U.S.,” Davis said. “Despite the fact that Charlie and I tried not to think about it, everyone was saying if you win, you’ll be the first American ice dance team in history to achieve that, and so we had that in the back of our minds.”

Furthermore, Davis and White said the win was thrilling to them not only because of what it signified for them, but what it signified for the United States.

“(The victory) holds a special place for us and a special place for the country,” White said. “We’re very grateful for the opportunity to do something like that.”

Next season, White and Davis said they plan to continue their ice dancing careers, and hope to come up with new routines that persist in pushing the boundaries.

“It’s going to be interesting to see just exactly what we can do to top ourselves,” White said. “If we want to stay at the top, which definitely we want to do, we’re going to have to work that much harder.”

Despite their rigorous practice schedules, Davis and White said they plan on taking classes on campus in the fall. Davis added she loves the days she gets to spend as a University student.

“It’s funny because Charlie and I have been students at Michigan for several years,” she said. “But I still feel like I can never get enough. I just love walking around campus, and walking through the Diag and the Law Quad.”

Despite their affection for the University and Ann Arbor, their fans can rest at ease because the two have no plans to retire any time soon, despite their 15 year-long career. According to White, he and Davis are too excited about their work to stop now.

“I wouldn’t say it gets easier,” he said. “There’s always sort of that ‘why am I a figure skater, I could be sitting at home.’ But we love the feeling you get when you begin to perform.”

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