Detroit grit sharpened skills of Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Detroit grit sharpened skills of Meryl Davis, Charlie White

PARK CITY, UTAH — The figure-skating world of ice dancing evokes images of artistry on skates, flashy costumes and classical musical scores.
The favorites to capture the gold medal next February at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, however, want people to know they’re as determined as the city they represent.
“Charlie and I have talked about this before,” said Meryl Davis, who grew up in West Bloomfield and teams with Charlie White — the man who grew up 10 minutes away from his on-ice partner. “Detroit is really a city that has prided itself for a very long time on hard work and starting from not necessarily having anything … kind of paving your own way.”
The way being paved by Davis and White — the two-time, reigning world champions and 2010 Olympic silver medalists — is lined with expectations.
The U-M graduates who spoke Tuesday during the U.S. Olympic Committee’s media summit became the first Americans to win a world title. Their resume delivers reason for optimism, too, that they could become the first from the U.S. to snare Olympic gold.
One skate at a time, the pair cautioned.
“I think we just know that allowing ourselves to kind of linger on the idea of a potential medal or focusing on a gold medal, it’s nothealthy for us,” said Davis, 26.
White and Davis said they understand that the grittiness of perseverance of Detroit — from its industry to its music and beyond — has provided strength the pair milked from experiences living there.
“I think being from Detroit, we can definitely feel that in the city,” Davis said. “Kind of that work ethic, willingness to put yourself all into what you’re doing, whether it’s the auto industry or starting something new.
“While ice dance is an artistic sport, it certainly has its nitty-gritty moments. Training isn’t all lipstick and sparkles every day. I think that definitely the feeling of Detroit, that work ethic, is something we take to the ice every day.”
White, 25, said the city planted another seed, as well.
“Growing up, my biggest idol was Steve Yzerman,” White said. “I think he was a great ambassador, not just for the Red Wings but for the city of Detroit. He led by example …
“Having my dad work in downtown Detroit (too), these are sort of the things that you pull into yourself without even realizing it. I think it’s something we take to the ice.”
White also argued about the ability required in his sport, using some skate-anchored context. Average shifts in hockey last about 45 seconds, while ice dancers move and jump and spin for four minutes or more.
“There’s no reason you shouldn’t be just as exhausted at the end of a figure skating program as any other sport,” he said.
That’s Detroit Tough — with a dash of the finer things
“Don’t forget about the DIA,” White good-naturedly protested. “It’s not like we don’t have culture in Detroit.”
Bryce Miller writes for the Des Moines Register.

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