Meryl Davis, Charlie White remain close to skating, the sport they dominated
Detroit — Meryl Davis and Charlie White are figure-skating analysts, ambassadors for the sport and the city, and media personalities.
And, they say, it suits them just fine.
The 2014 Olympic champions, two-time world champions (2011, 2013) and six-time U.S. champions (2009-2014) in the ice dance say they are happy with their decision Feb. 23, 2017, to step away from competition.
Davis and White were ranked No. 1 in the world from 2009 to 2014. They were the darlings of the United States team at the Sochi Winter Games.
Their reign likely will be remembered as the apex of Michigan’s international domination of ice dancing.
Coaches Marina Zueva and Igor Shpilband arrived from Russia in the 1990s and churned out Davis and White, Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, Maia and Alex Shibutani, Madison Chock and Evan Bates and others.
Now, Davis and White are broadcasting, with an eye out for the next big talents, and they are assisting U.S. Figure Skating at the national championships at Little Caesar’s Arena.
“We’re honorary coaches,” said White, 31, as he walked between a creative writing class and a philosophy course on ethics at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
“Honorary is sort of the most important word, there,” the candid, often humorous White said. “Mostly, how it works is we help promote the championships.
“We obviously consider ourselves to be representatives of Detroit. We’ve grown up here, and so much of our success is such a function of being Detroiters.
“Detroit has a wonderful skating community, and it always has. And it is tied in, I think, with the appreciation of hockey.”
White will analyze things and add commentary for NBC online.
Davis laughed and tweeted Wednesday about getting an Uber ride to Little Caesars Arena, and being taken to a Little Caesars.
The 32-year-old champion handled it with her familiar grace and grit, accepting responsibility for the confusion.
“Accidentally sent my @Uber to @littlecaesars pizza instead of @LCArena_Detroit... I think my driver may have been curious as to why I was so overdressed for a solo afternoon pizza outing,” Davis tweeted.
“I’m wearing many hats throughout the championship. so, it’s going to fun,” she said in an interview. “But it’s going to be a busy week.
“I’m doing some of the in-arena hosting with U.S. Figure Skating. Charlie and I are the honorary coaches of the event.
“And then, I’m going to be working with WDIV as sort of a correspondent, and I’m working with the Olympic channel as well.
“It’s been since the 1990s since the nationals were here,” said Davis, who grew up in West Bloomfield. “So, Charlie and I are interested in having the figure skating community come back to Detroit and see how it is now. That’s thrill for us, as Metro Detroiters.”
The Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton proved to be more than an assembly line for ice dancers. White met his wife and Davis her fiancé, who also trained there.
White is married to Belbin, a featured analyst on the NBC broadcasts of the national championships, and lives in Ann Arbor. They have a 14-month-old child.
Davis is engaged Fedor Andreev, whom she had been dating for several years.
They remain content with their decision to stop competing.
“I’m always going to miss it,” Davis said. “But, I’m really excited about some of my new roles and challenges and adventures.”
White said he is surprised he does not miss it.
“Uh, no. Not at all,” he said. “And, you know, it’s almost like I do find it surprising myself that I don’t.”
He said he always assumed he would. But, “I find that that just isn’t the case.”
They both said that long consideration given to their decision, for a few years after their world record triumph at Sochi, has made the decision carefree.
“I think part of it is just the way that we finished, and the timing of it,” White said, with words that mirrored Davis’.
“We were lucky in so many ways that, yes, we did win the Olympic gold medal, but we were never seriously injured, we were not forced off in any way. We got to decide when we felt comfortable with the sport and walking away.”
Ask Davis and White how the national championships will unfold in Detroit and they provide detailed discourses on the status of their sport.
“What’s particularly exciting about this year, it’s the beginning of a new quad,” Davis said, of the three years leading up to the fourth Olympic year.
“This is really the first national championships of this Olympic cycle.
“So, it’s embracing the familiar faces and watching them sort of move forward to do amazing things, but also looking for some people we may not have seen before who could really challenge for a spot on that Olympics team.”