Jeff Seidel: Olympic champs Meryl Davis, Charlie White stay on the move with 'Stars on Ice,' 'Dancing with the Stars'
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are living like rock stars.
After winning the gold medal in ice dance at the Winter Olympics, they have been living out of their suitcases. They are touring the country on a bus, traveling from Florida to New Jersey while performing in “Stars on Ice,” and then hopping off the tour once a week and flying to Los Angeles to compete on “Dancing with the Stars.”
But they are coming home, at least for a couple of days, when “Stars on Ice” makes a stop at Joe Louis Arena next Sunday.
“It’s very cool for us to come to Detroit for the show,” Davis said. “We haven’t been able to spend a lot of time at home since the Olympics. Anytime we get to celebrate with our families and friends and other people of Detroit, I think it’s very cool for us.”
How does it work? How do you train for a TV show while touring the country as part of an ice show?
Every morning, in whatever city they happen to be in for the ice show, Davis and White train with their TV dance partners for four or five hours.
Then, Davis and White go to the rink to get ready for “Stars on Ice,” and their dancing partners — Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Sharna Burgess — get in a car with a field producer from the TV show and drive to the next city where “Stars on Ice” is scheduled to appear.
It is a complicated, hectic, nonstop schedule.
Davis and White haven’t had a day off since the Olympics — not that they are complaining.
“It’s exhausting,” White said. “We are powering through, honestly. It’s pretty hard. But we are so grateful to have all of these amazing opportunities to be part of ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and ‘Stars on Ice’ at the same time. It’s nothing we take for granted. And it’s a blast. The people around us are really great people. Sometimes, we get a little bit tired, but for the most part we are so excited. We don’t let it show too much.”
They sleep on the bus.
“The buses have bunk beds and a little lounge area,” White said. “It’s great to unwind and relax as we are traveling to each new city.”
Celebration of figure skating
“Stars on Ice” features the U.S. skaters who combined to win the bronze medal in the team event at the Sochi Games.
“This year, ‘Stars on Ice’ is a celebration of American figure skating,” Davis said. “It’s a celebration of the Games, so it’s very exciting for us. The team event helped bond this group of skaters. I think it’s a really fun cast this year, so I think that Detroit will really enjoy the show.”
The show, which White described as family friendly, features several skaters with ties to Detroit.
First, there is Davis and White, of course. They used to train in Canton, until they started living on the road.
And there is Jeremy Abbott, a four-time national champion, who trains at the Detroit Skating Club and placed 12th at the Sochi Games.
Alissa Czisny, a two-time U.S. national champion who missed out on a chance to make the Olympic team because of an injury, is also performing in the show. Czisny trained with Abbott at the Detroit Skating Club.
“She seems to be doing pretty well,” White said of Czisny. “She obviously has a passion for skating and is so beautiful and graceful on the ice. She’s a great addition.”
Davis and White might have to keep up this schedule for a while. They are among the final eight “Dancing with the Stars” competitors, and it doesn’t look like either one is going to be kicked off anytime soon.
Both have excelled, drawing all kinds of praise from the “Dancing” judges, which is hardly surprising. They have a huge advantage over some of the other competitors. They are elite athletes who have trained for years, learning how to perform live, handling pressure.
And they have made it look ridiculously easy.
But you want to know a secret?
“It really is not easy,” White said. “Everything feels so alien to a certain degree and uncomfortable. We have an understanding of our bodies that if we work hard enough we will do what it is we want. It’s funny. We can make it look like we know what we are doing, but we certainly don’t feel it from a technical standpoint. From a technical standpoint, it’s certainly not 100% correct.”
White was ripped by “Dancing with the Stars” judge Len Goodman for a rumba that wasn’t exactly a rumba. “Is it a rumba?” Goodman asked. “Not in my world it isn’t.”
But White is such a good performer that it doesn’t matter.
Davis has chemistry with Chmerkovskiy — it is like one long, sizzling embrace broken up by some amazing dancing.
“I’m really enjoying spending time with Maks,” Davis said. “And with the partner swap, I spent a lot of time with his brother Val. They are both really cool, very impressive people. As teachers, they have been so incredible. I’ve been learning so much. They have really allowed me to enjoy the process from a learning standpoint, as well as just wanting to have fun with the whole experience.”
White looks like a natural, even if he doesn’t feel comfortable.
“For me, with Sharna, obviously, she is a true professional,” White said. “She puts everything she has into the dancing and into the choreography. She has only done two seasons. She is having fun experimenting with what we are capable of out on the dance floor. That really sets the tone for our rehearsals. We are out there having a good time. At the same time, we expect a lot out of ourselves and we want to go out there and look like we know what we are doing.”
When they were training for the Olympics, Davis and White made it clear that they were shooting for the gold medal. But this is different. They are just riding this train of opportunity until it stops.
“It’s a different place for us to be in,” Davis said. “We are just having fun with the whole thing.”
As far as the future, they say they haven’t thought about it, except for a June vacation.
“We are definitely looking forward to some time off,” White said.
Come on, man. What have you done to earn a vacation?
“I know, right,” White said, laughing.