Meryl Davis and Charlie White are perhaps the most decorated U.S. ice dance team in history. In addition to becoming the first U.S. ice dance team ever to earn World Championship gold, Davis and White have won an Olympic silver medal, eight Grand Prix gold medals, three Grand Prix Final gold medals and four U.S. titles.
This past weekend, Davis and White became the second ice dance team to win three Skate America titles. Moments later, the champions sat down with TeamUSA.org to answer questions that fans submitted on Facebook.
Joey N. asks: How long have you been training together?
Meryl Davis: Charlie and I have been skating together as a team since 1997, so coming up on 16 years; but we really have been training together since we were 6.
Charlie White: At the same rink.
Meryl Davis: Pretty much our whole lives.
Charlie White: We’ve known each other forever.
Tori R. asks: What’s the most awkward situation you’ve gotten yourselves into skating as a couple?
Charlie White: It’s awkward because a lot of people like to ask if we are a couple off the ice. Because we are such good actors and it’s a vital part of being an ice dancer to show we’re in love on the ice, everyone just assumes, ‘Hey, they probably are a couple off the ice.’ We get that question a lot and it’s a little bit awkward but we’re used to it.
Angela G. asks: At what age did you start skating?
Meryl Davis: I started when I was 5 at the Detroit Skating Club in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. I grew up on a lake in Michigan so my mom wanted me to be able to skate with my friends on the lake in the winter and I just fell in love with it when I started lessons.
Charlie White: I also started when I was 5 at the Detroit Skating Club, so that later on in life I’d be able to skate with friends and just fell in love with it.
Ricardo L. asks: As a parent, at what age should we start thinking about our children heading to the Olympics?
Meryl Davis: Don’t. Honestly, I firmly believe that if the parents are trying to fulfill their own dreams, nothing but pain and misery is in front of you. If your child is talented enough, hard-working enough and has the dream, they’ll make it happen themselves. I don’t think a parent should ever start thinking about the Olympics. If your kid has the determination, you should of course support them but I think the kids have to make it happen themselves.
Charlie White: We were really lucky with our parents, they gave us the opportunity to find what we really enjoyed in life and once you find that, you’re gonna get to the top of that if you continue to work hard at it and continue to love it like we were able to do with ice dance. That’s the key with any young kids.
Meryl Davis: Our parents facilitated absolutely everything that we have accomplished. They provided us with every possible opportunity in the world but they never pushed us into anything. If I sat home – I don’t think I ever once did, but if I ever were to sit down and say I don’t want to go to skating today, neither of my parents would have blinked an eye. They probably would have actually celebrated. I think that it makes for a much happier career if it’s of your own accord.
TeamUSA.org asks: How involved are your parents now?
Charlie White: They’re very involved – our moms come to every competition and they really enjoy the traveling and getting to experience a lot of the success that we’ve been able to have over the years. It’s always great because no matter what country we’re in, we always have a little bit of home with us. It’s been fantastic; they’re always there for us and able to help us and we’re so appreciative of that.
Michelle W. asks: What’s the worst injury one of you gave to the other?
Charlie White: I think I separated Meryl’s shoulder when we were real young. We were just learning lifts and I was trying to cartwheel her over and I think I dropped her right on her shoulder and separated it. That was bad, but for the most part we’ve been very lucky and we take all the precautions we can to be safe. When you’re first learning to do lifts I think little mistakes like that are gonna happen.
Meryl Davis: After that I think I was a little more cautious going into lifts, which actually was probably a good thing. But I didn’t feel any differently about Charlie.
Alyson M. asks: How do you practice dangerous lifts when you’re first learning them?
Meryl Davis: We do a lot of our lifting in beginning stages on the floor. When you have mats it’s a lot safer and it’s a lot safer when you’re not moving across the ice. When Charlie can wear shoes and he’s not having to balance on the ice it’s a lot easier, so we usually start that way.
Christine J. asks: Most great skating duos have chemistry. Do you think you have it and if so where does that chemistry come from?
Charlie White: Just this season we feel like we’ve captured the special chemistry and started putting it on the ice. It wasn’t always very natural for us but it was a lot of hard work with acting coaches and figuring out how to bring that out, to be able to connect and show that to the audience. It was a lot of hard work but it’s definitely something that comes across great on the ice.
Meryl Davis: I think personally too we’re at a place in our careers and our friendship with each other that we feel it’s more natural for that to happen. Different people mature at different rates and I think this year things have come together nicely for us and we’re enjoying the little changes here and there that we’re able to put out onto the ice.
Kara P. says: I started skating around age 10 and had to quit training at age 22 because of a life event. Are there options for me now at age 29? When I get back in shape will it be possible for me to be in my 30s and learning intermediate figure skating skills?
Charlie White: Definitely! There’s a great adult track in figure skating that I think is pursued by a lot of people who feel they were in similar circumstances where they weren’t able to accomplish their skating goals as kids and it’s a great opportunity for them to not only come back but also compete against others who are in similar situations. It’s a lot of fun but at the same time it’s still competitive and it’s great to see people who aren’t afraid later in life to pursue those skating dreams that they had.
Autumn P. says: It’s gotta be hard to ice skate in a tux.
Charlie White: Actually, before last year one of my fears of skating to the music “Die Fledermaus,” the program I had to wear the tux for, was having to wear a tux on the ice. I had done it before and it was very uncomfortable and you don’t feel like you have the range of motion. So we went to this great ballet company in Toronto who specifically designs outfits like this for ballet dancers, they had this perfect material for it and it was still hot but it was a lot easier to skate in.
Ana B. asks: How often do you practice?
Meryl Davis: We usually train about five hours a day, five days a week. But it depends on the season; this summer we skated a little more than usual, five or six hours on the ice and then about an hour, three days a week, off the ice. But once we get into the competitive season it’s usually more like four hours on the ice and then an hour-and-a-half, five days a week, off the ice.
Anne M. asks: Have you ever wanted to try the throw (“iron lotus”) they do in Blades of Glory?
Meryl Davis: I’ve never wanted to actually try it, but I have wanted to name things we’ve actually tried the “iron lotus.”
Charlie White: I think for fear of decapitation it’s probably best we stay away from the iron lotus; I think that’s part of the movie magic. But there’s definitely creative moves we like to try to add a little bit of danger.
Meryl Davis: Decapitation is not something I’m willing to sacrifice for my skating. That’s where I draw the line.
Chrissie C. asks: How long do you work on a program before it’s competition ready?
Meryl Davis: It varies from program to program. Some programs come together really quickly and others take a little bit more tweaking. Some programs really aren’t complete until the World Championships at the end of the season whereas some stay completely the same all season long, so it really depends on the program.
Katie G. asks: How do you work together so well? Do you bond while you’re skating or off the ice?
Charlie White: We’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of the same goals in skating and I think that because of that we’ve always had very similar work ethics and great families to keep us happy. There’s a lot of things that have gone into our great relationship but we genuinely care for each other, which is one of the main things.
Meryl Davis: We spend so much time together on the ice every day for 16 years but also there are so many things to be done off the ice, whether it’s traveling to a competition, going to a costume fitting, going to events or just hanging out with the friends that we have in common from the rink that we end up spending a lot of time together as well. So I think bonding is something we’re not lacking; we have a lot of bonding time.
TeamUSA.org asks: Meryl, What makes Charlie a good partner?
Meryl Davis: Like Charlie said, we have the same work ethic so I think that’s really the key to our partnership, having the same goal in mind and both being willing to go the distance to achieve it. But I think for Charlie in particular, he has a really great balance between working really hard and having fun. When it’s time to get down to business her certainly can but he always knows when to lighten the mood if I’m feeling a little stressed out. He’s always good for making your day a bit brighter and I think that’s something that he’s brought to the team that’s really helped us to not only do really well but also enjoy the process over the years.
TeamUSA.org asks: Charlie, What makes Meryl a good partner?
Charlie White: I would have to say Meryl’s level of commitment. It’s hard to find a partner who is willing to sacrifice so much that we have to sacrifice at this level. It just makes everything easier when your partner is as committed as you are and I think that’s definitely what she’s helped bring to this partnership.
TeamUSA.org asks: Favorite costume you’ve worn in a program?
Meryl Davis: My favorite costume that I’ve ever had was my Bollywood costume for the Olympics in 2010. They were absolutely authentic and they were so well-received by the Indian community that I think we were so honored to be able to represent them and have them give us such positive feedback that every time I put on the costume I was so proud to be wearing it. No comparison for me.
Charlie White: Same for me. It was really cool to be embraced by the Indian community that we were representing with our outfits and our dance, so I think that holds a special place in our hearts.
TeamUSA.org asks: What would fans be surprised to learn about you?
Meryl Davis: On a daily basis, I’ll come up with something and I’m like, ‘I should really remember this next time someone asks me this question,’ but I don’t remember. I guess the funny thing is, especially at this point, we know each other so well that it’s scary most of the time. We have spent the majority of the last 16 years together and we’ll say the same thing at the same time or finish each other’s thoughts. I think people would be shocked to learn exactly how well we know each other and how creepy it can be.
Charlie White: Finishing someone’s sentences is one thing but having the exact same thought at the same time and having the other person beat you to entire paragraphs of what you were about to say gets really disturbing.
Meryl Davis: They say twins have that
Charlie White: Connection. We’re starting to understand what that is.
Meryl Davis: It’s pretty funny actually.