Meryl Davis and Charlie White, shown at the U.S. International Figure Skating… (Matthew Stockman / Getty…)
PARK CITY, Utah — This has been a big year for figure skater Charlie White.
First, he and his partner, Meryl Davis, who two years ago became the first American duo to win a world ice dancing championship, won another world title and established themselves as the ice dance favorites at the Sochi Olympics. No American couple has ever won an Olympic ice dance gold medal, so a triumph in Sochi would be a historic achievement for Davis and White, who won
silver at Vancouver in 2010.
Almost as important, White saw his beloved Detroit Red Wings move from the NHL’s Western Conference to the East, which means that most Red Wings telecasts will be aired at a time that better suits White’s training schedule. White, who played hockey when he was younger, trains with Davis in Canton, Mich.
“It was always the biggest pain for me to try and stay up late during the playoffs, when the Wings would play Anaheim or San Jose. And I have to get up early and train the next day, so I’d usually have to fall asleep halfway through,” White said Tuesday during the Team USA Media Summit.
“I think the way they balance it out is nice. Obviously, losing the rivalry with Chicago is too bad but we’ll be with Toronto. Original Six. We’ll have a good rivalry.”
White said he plans to see as much hockey as he can in Sochi, though his schedule will be busy. The ice dance competition will take place Feb. 16-17, but Davis and White will also compete in the new team event that will take place on Feb. 6, 8 and 9.
“I’m going to make it a personal goal to go see some hockey,” White said. “So many of the best superstars in the whole world are going to be on the same team, that if you are a fan of hockey it’s a real shame if you can’t enjoy that type of game.”
Davis said she hopes to see some hockey in Sochi, too. “The only other hockey game I’ve attended was the gold medal game in Vancouver,” she said, referring to host Canada’s dramatic overtime victory over the U.S. in 2010. “And so everyone tells me I’ll be incredibly disappointed by any other game.”
They’re pleased with their own progress so far this season and say they’re focusing on getting better, rather than obsessing over the gold medal. That’s part of what makes them entertaining to watch: They’re great technical skaters and terrific performers who have advanced a discipline that had been mocked for its over-the-top costumes and music. And, often, those criticisms were justified.
“I think we just know that allowing ourselves to just linger on the idea of a potential medal, focusing on a gold medal, it’s not healthy for us at this point,” Davis said. “We’re focused on what it is we can do to improve our training, improve what it is we’re putting onto the ice, that I feel we kind of have that comfort zone of focusing on the training without getting too far ahead of ourselves.”
White echoed that.
“When we won the championships in 2011 one of the things that helped us was not saying, ‘Oh, we’re world champions, let’s just continue at this level and expect the same result,’” he said. “Our expectations for ourselves go above our placement in any given competition ….
“From beginning to the end of the program, staying in character and keeping everyone enthralled with not just the elements or the speed or anything in particular but just the overall feel of the program: I think that’s where we’ve really taken off and I think what is going to make this a really special year.’’
Their short dance will be performed to music from Lerner and Loewe's “My Fair Lady,” and their free dance will be performed to “Scheherazade” by Russian composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Will skating to music by a Russian composer help them win over the crowd in Sochi?
“We hope so,” Davis said. “It never hurts to have the support of the crowd, not only in the team itself but being involved in the music and the story it is we’re trying to tell.”