SOCHI, Russia — One last dance. One last hug.
This time as gold medalists.
Meryl Davis and Charlie White were back on the ice on Saturday night, performing in the gala exhibition at the Iceberg Palace with all of the top figure skaters in the world. And when it was done, when they closed the show with one last group performance and waved good-bye to the crowd, Davis and White were locked arm-in-arm with a pair of old Canadian rivals, their training mates at the Canton's Arctic Edge, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, who finished with the silver medal.
"The last couple of days have been a whirlwind," Davis said.
Since winning the gold medal in ice dance Monday, Davis and White have done an endless string of interviews and photos and videos and meet-and-greets and more interviews and more photos and more interviews.
"It's certainly been busy and tiring, but in the best of ways," Davis said. "We are enjoying everything we are doing. We are trying to take advantage of the moment. Not jump into the future, and just really be in the present."
Next up? Davis, from West Bloomfield, Mich., and White, from Bloomfield Hills, are headed to Moscow to do a television show.
"Then, we are going to New York for a little bit of media," Davis said. "And then, we will sit down, when we get back to Detroit, and figure out if we are going to do worlds or what our plan might be."
Now, it will get really interesting for them.
How will this gold medal change their lives? What opportunities will arise from it?
The clock is ticking.
Davis, 27, and White, 26, have a small window to capitalize on their Olympic gold medal.
"The next four to eight weeks will be really important for them," said David Schwab, a senior vice president for Octagon, a Washington D.C.-based agency that helps companies determine how to use celebrity talent in consumer marketing and business-to-business programs.
Octagon helped pair up Adrian Peterson and Castrol motor oil, and John Stamos and Dannon yogurt.
"My gut would say, the first thing they should do is get on Dancing with the Stars," Schwab said. "They would do well, and it would be a fun story of separating them, almost pitting them against each other."
What a great point. That would make great television.
Just seeing Davis and White partnered with somebody else.
"One, they can make some money off that," Schwab said. "Even more important than making money, they get to be seen by 15 (million)-20 million people every week."
Dancing with the Stars has turned into a springboard for several Olympians, including Kristi Yamaguchi, Shawn Johnson,Misty May-Treanor and Apolo Ohno.
All of those athletes went on that show trying to transcend their sport and expand their fan base.
"When you look at Apolo, you don't think of him as a speedskater," Schwab said. "Of course, that's what he is. Now, you see him as a host of game shows and on network shows on NBC."
Davis and White have an advantage over other Winter Olympians because they can join a skating tour and those tours already are linked to sponsors. Even better, they should be able to charge more to appear at a show.
Also, they already have sponsorship deals with Ralph Lauren, Kellogg's, Visa, Procter & Gamble, Puffs, AT&T, MK Blades and a Japanese mattress company.
Schwab said it was important to get Davis and White to New York or Los Angeles right away.
"I'd have them walk the halls of different companies and Fortune 500 companies, just to say hello, just to keep the interest level," Schwab said.
It is hard to predict which Olympians will hit it big with endorsements or how they might reinvent themselves. An Olympic athlete needs to have the right personality and find the right vehicle.
Look at Julie Foudy.
She has transformed herself from a soccer player to soccer analyst to general TV person, and she was in Sochi for ABC.
Or look at former figure skaters Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir, who might be the true breakout stars of the Winter Olympics for NBC.
Davis and White have other things going for them. They are attractive and extremely likeable. "The challenge they have is the size of the sport," Schwab said. "Their audience is women 25-54. That's the figure skating audience."
Now, here's a problem. There are lots of athletes who are fighting for the same sponsorship money. The same opportunities.
And Davis and White have a small window of opportunity. The Winter Olympics soon will be forgotten by general sports fans, who quickly will move on to other things, because spring training is heating up and then March Madness is right around the corner.
Virtue, 24, and Moir, 26, already have gone through this. They won the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Games.
"One of the best lessons that we have learned is that ultimately, it doesn't really change your life," Virtue said. "I don't feel like we've changed as people. It's personally very satisfying. It's thrilling to set a goal and work hard and achieve something like that. Looking forward, no matter what field of work we end up in, we'll be able to use those skill sets."
But an Olympic medal offers instant credibility. Forever.
This might sound a little dark, but it will be the first line of their obituary.
"I can't speak for other athletes, but my medal provided a lifelong credential that enabled me to put an exclamation point on the end of my career," said figure skater Paul Wylie, the 1992 Olympic silver medalist. "It opened the doors for me to compete in professional competitions at the highest levels and to skate on tour, extending my career and enabling me to grow the artistic side of my skating by working with producers and choreographers. It also made my skating experience relevant to the average television viewer and gave me a profile as a high achiever on Team USA."
Wylie said he hopes Davis and White continue to skate. The world championships are next month in Saitama, Japan.
"How about reviving the professional competitions?" Wylie said.
He suggested staging a rematch with Virtue and Moir. Which sounds incredibly interesting when you think about it.
And he offered this piece of advice to them: "Be creative. Take risks and create. Educate folks on what ice dancing and figure skating is."
Wylie hopes that White, in particular, will inspire young boys to try figure skating, since "the numbers have dwindled in recent years with so many other choices for sports."
Will Davis and White continue skating? Will they strike it rich with endorsements? Will they branch out to find new, creative ways to expand the sport?
It's hard to say. But that clock is ticking.
Jeff Seidel writes for the Detroit Free Press and can be reached email@example.com.