Meryl Davis and Charlie White have won two World Championships and an Olympic silver medal in ice dancing. (Doug Pensinger / Getty Images)
Detroit — A week before the world champions’ first performance in their hometown in more than a decade, and just four months shy of their much-anticipated second appearance in the Olympics when they likely will be favored to win gold in ice dancing, Meryl Davis was asked how the arduous training is going for her and her partner, Charlie White.
“Swimmingly!” said Davis, 26, who was born in Royal Oak, graduated from Birmingham Groves High and attends Michigan, all while gaining international fame, championships and medals in figure skating.
Asked, in an apparent attempt at figure skating humor, whether that meant the ice had melted, Davis volleyed gracefully.
“It’s really warm,” she said. “It’s a ridiculously nice day for October in the Detroit area, and you know it’s probably not that far from melting.
“But it is going swimmingly!
“Charlie and I feel we are really where we want to be at this time of the season, and just trying to enjoy the process.”
And enjoyment is on tap for them, their families and fans this weekend, as Skate America, the first event of the 2013 International Skating Union Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series, comes to Joe Louis Arena beginning with practices today and competition Friday-Sunday.
Davis and White are twice world champions, Olympic silver medalists and four-time World Grand Prix Finals champions.
But, even with the large number of skaters who have trained in Metro Detroit across the decades, the opening date of the 2013-14 Grand Prix season is the first big international competition in the city in years.
For Davis and White, it has been a long time between home games. In fact, it has been since a juniors competition in which they skated as early teenagers.
“It’s been at least 10 years, actually, so that’s crazy,” said White, 25, who was born in Royal Oak, attended the Roeper School in Birmingham and goes to Michigan.
“But it’s exciting for us. I think the biggest thing is that most of both of our families live in the area, and just being able to be in such a special season to have them be there for one of our biggest events is awesome.
“Maybe we’ll be a little bit more nervous, you know, because the crowd will be filled with a large amount of our friends and family and we’re going to really want to put on a good show for them.”
Also competing are the three other reigning U.S. champions — Ashley Wagner, a two-time ladies champion; Max Aaron, the men’s champion, will debut in the Series; and Marissa Castelli and Simon Shnapir, the pairs champions.
Other members of the international field include Mao Asada, the two-time world ladies champion and Olympic silver medalist; and Daisuke Takahashi, the reigning men’s Grand Prix Finals champion and 2010 Olympic bronze medalist.
The reigning world champion pair of Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who were undefeated in the last Grand Prix season and also won the European title, are slated to compete.
But local attention will be drawn to Davis and White.
“We were so fortunate coming up the ranks at the Detroit Skating Club when there were so many amazing American ice dancing teams there,” Davis said. “We were so fortunate to have the opportunity to see all of those teams, kind of at the same time.”
“We’re just so lucky to have grown up 10 minutes away from such a strong ice dancing presence for the U.S., and such varied talents,” White said.
“I think we saw a lot and we were able to sort of pick and choose, maybe even unknowingly at the time, what is was about each individual team that we liked. And i think we could reflect on that as we watched them skate by us and really try to make some of that our own.”