Detroit Freep article

Jeff Seidel: Meryl Davis has home-ice advantage at World Figure Skating Championships

More than 70 years ago, Ken Davis was on vacation, staying at a small cottage on a lake in Ontario. He saw a beautiful young woman fall off her bike, and he rushed to help her.
That started everything.
Stay with me. This is going to end up at the World Figure Skating Championships, I promise. But this is the story behind the story of this competition.
"My grandfather had kind of heard about these two sisters who lived just up the beach," Meryl Davis said. "My grandmother and her sister were extremely beautiful young women."
Ken Davis, who lived in Detroit, helped the girl up. Her name was Marian. They hit it off, started dating, got married and had two kids, and one of their grandchildren grew up to become one of the best ice dancers in the world.
This week, Meryl Davis will compete in the World Figure Skating Championships with Charlie White, her partner of 15 years. As luck would have it, the competition will be held in London, Ontario, the city where her grandmother grew up and her grandparents were married.
And that will give Meryl Davis a chance to skate in front of a couple dozen relatives from Canada. Just 2 1/2 hours from Detroit.
Small world.
Huge championship.
"It's really incredibly special," said Meryl Davis of West Bloomfield, who trains with White at the Arctic Edge Arena in Canton. "I'm really close to my grandparents. I have dinner with them once a week. They were a really big part of my life growing up."
Marian Davis, 88, was planning to attend the championship but can't now because her husband has health problems. They live in Novi.
"So much of my family on my dad's side will be attending, which is really exciting," Meryl Davis said. "I kind of grew up going to Canadian Thanksgiving in London."
Or going to family reunions. Meryl Davis goes to London two or three times a year to visit relatives.
"It's a place I'm quite familiar with," Meryl Davis said. "It's exciting to be able to perform for a part of my family that doesn't often get to see me skate, so I'm excited."
Here's the really strange part.
Davis and White will be competing for the world championship against Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who won the title last year. Davis and White took second.
Virtue and Moir train in Canton with Davis and White, and they share the same coach, Marina Zoueva.
Virtue grew up in London, and Moir is from a town about 20 minutes north.
Which makes it an even smaller, small world.
But an even tougher championship.
Try beating world champs on their home ice.
"This is our city; this is our venue, there's no doubt about that," Moir said to reporters Tuesday.
Virtue and Moir said they will not visit their families this week, and they plan to turn off their phones to avoid distractions.
"We are trying to keep it as close to a normal competition setting as possible," Virtue said. "We are staying in a hotel and will take the bus."
Many top skaters are forced to move away from home to train. They go to places like, well, Canton or Novi or the Detroit Skating Club to find great coaching.
But Davis and White have been lucky. Michigan is the center of the ice dancing universe, and that has allowed them to stay close to home. Their families have played a huge role in their lives.
White will have about 10 family members in London, too.
"This is the Worlds before the Olympic Games, and everyone wants to make an impression," White said.
Making a first impression is important. That starts everything. Especially when a guy picks up a beautiful young woman, who fell off a bike.
Contact Jeff Seidel: 313-223-4558 or Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff.


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