The ice-dancing darlings of the
Sochi Winter Olympics are going their separate ways for the first time in 17 years.
Gold medalists Charlie White and
Meryl Davis will hit the ballroom with new partners to compete against each other Monday on Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars (ABC, 8 p.m. ET/PT).
But talk to them, and you still hear the word "we."
The two, who have said they are not dating each other but are in relationships with other people, are approaching the competition just as they did the Olympics — "together," Davis says. "We're practicing with our partners, but every night, we're talking about our experiences. 'Is this sore or that sore?' We're feeling like it's a partnership regardless of the separation."
White echoes Davis, even though they chat in separate phone interviews.
"We're on the same page," he says. "Coming off the Olympic gold that we just won, we're coming into this not as this die-hard competition. Obviously our competitive spirits will take over at some point, and we're looking forward to learning a lot. We feel like we're in it together. Seventeen years of partnership, it's certainly going to be a tough habit to break."
She'll be dancing with the bad boy of the ballroom, pro
Maksim Chmerkovskiy. And he'll be dancing with Australian hottie Sharna Burgess.
"I don't want to say he's not a bad boy, because everyone enjoys seeing him that way," Davis says of Chmerkovskiy. But "I'm finding that I'm so impressed with him on and off the floor. His style of teaching I'm very comfortable with. I think we're getting along really well."
Maks can be such a brute. And she seems so
Princess Jasmine sweet. Isn't he going to make her cry?
"That's not going to happen," she assures. "I'm used to being coached. Something I learned long ago is that a coach is trying to make you better and to be the best version of yourself."
It would seem Davis, 27, and White, 26, already are better versions of dancers than everyone else, an obvious unfair advantage.
Amy Purdy, who won a bronze medal Friday, is unfazed. "People are going to expect them to do really well because this is what they do," she says. "I love my Team USA family, but I'm going to do my best to beat them."
White agrees: "In some ways, we have an advantage — in musicality and performance — but we're not as much a blank slate as other people because the technique we use in skating goes against what they do on the floor. The way you move your hips, for example. So we're king of having to unlearn some things."
They have ballet in their backgrounds, and they have often worked on "bits and pieces of ballroom with the idea of taking it to the ice," Davis says. But they're finding "many differences we didn't realize" between the two styles of dance. Complicating things just a bit: The two are prepping for
Stars on Ice, with rehearsals starting April 1, while also practicing for Dancing With the Stars.
They follow many Olympians who have won or done well on Dancing With the Stars, such as skater
Kristi Yamaguchi, gymnast Shawn Johnson and speed skater Apollo Anton Ohno.
Evan Lysacek (2010's Olympic ice-skating gold medalist) texted us both (to say) congratulations and good luck on the show," White says, "so we asked him if he has any tips or anything, and he said, 'Just be yourself.'"
Ask White to size up the competition, and he's nothing but generous and kind.
"First and foremost, Meryl is going to be one of the greatest challenges," he says sweetly. "I know for a fact what a wonderful partner she is and how much she's been looking forward to this.
"Obviously some of the younger guys have huge fan bases as pop stars, and I'm sure they're not completely foreign to moving around and dancing. And Candace (Cameron Bure from Full House), obviously, we know, is America's sweetheart."
Can Davis really give it 100%, or will she be rooting for White to win? "Of course winning would be really cool. At the same time, I can root for him."
She does, however, offer a reality check about the pressure involved. "In skating, the stakes are so high. And we've been doing it our entire life. While this is a competition, and everyone wants to be on top, it's a very different circumstance than the
Seems that coveted
DWTS mirror-ball trophy might not be quite as important as a gold medal.