As if figure skaters Charlie White and Scott Moir needed more fuel for their long-running friendship/rivalry, the fire has been stoked even more, thanks to their second favourite ice sport.
"Scott and I certainly both have a love for hockey, and now that the Red Wings are
joining the East, they'll be facing off against the Leafs more often, so we're both gearing up for some pretty serious faceoffs," said White, a devout Detroit Red
Wings fan and along with partner Meryl Davis, the reigning world ice dance champions.
Moir, who partners with University of Windsor student Tessa Virtue as the reigning Olympic ice dance champions, is passionate about the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"We both love hockey and I think it's a great distraction," White said.
Theirs is also a great distinction. The two best ice dancing pairs in the world of figure skating are also the best of friends. Both teams train together at the same facility in Canton, Mich., so they see each other on almost a daily basis.
"It's been great having Scott and Tessa at the rink with us," White said. "Just the amount that we've been able to push each other has been to both of our advantages.
"Training every day and having someone there that's sort of going through the same thing as you is of defi-nite benefit. We're very grateful to have them there. The results speak for themselves."
Virtue and Moir were world champ in 2010 and 2012. Davis and White captured the world title in 2011 and 2013 and also earned silver medals at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
"We have total respect for what they do on the ice," Davis said of Virtue and Moir. "Getting the chance to train with them has made us both better athletes."
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It's difficult to envision this sort of relationship in another sport. Just try and imagine Tiger Woods inviting Phil Mickelson over to watch Netflix and munch popcorn.
The unique nature of figure skating, where teams compete against each other, but aren't out there on the ice trying to stop each other from succeeding, makes it easier for such friendships to evolve.
"The nature of ice dance is really just trying to master your technique, master your skill level," Davis said. "We're not really competing against each other teams.
"I think Charlie and me and I'm sure Tessa and Scott are always looking to just be better, to be the best we can be. Training with Tessa and Scott is a huge advantage.
"I think the four of us all have diverse talents and diverse strengths, so getting the chance to train with them has certainly pushed us and I'd like to think it's pushed them."
For Davis and White, both Michiganders, the road to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games begins on home ice with Skate America at Joe Louis Arena Oct. 18-20.
They admit that with such intense focus on the Games, social time with Virtue and Moir has subsided somewhat due to their busy schedules.
"Tessa and Scott and Charlie and I have become so focused on our task at hand that we don't really do a lot of outside activities, whether it's with them or other people," Davis said. "We have pretty full plates."
All of it building toward their showdown in Sochi.
"It will be a really special Olympics having the two of us face off again," White said. "It's been a bit back and forth, so it makes for a great event and a great storyline."
Whatever colour the medals are that they receive, both dance teams are certain of one thing - that their friendship will remain golden.