Meryl Davis elegantly transitioned from ice dance to ballroom dance without missing a beat. The skater went from winning the United States’ first gold medal in ice dance on Feb. 17 to making her dancing debut on “Dancing with the Stars” one month later on March 17. Davis quickly cemented her place as one of the season’s top dancers, tying for third in the first week and first the following week. Consistently joining Davis atop the leaderboard are fellow Team USA athletes Charlie White, Davis’ ice dance partner of 17 years, and Paralympic snowboarder Amy Purdy.
Life is about to get even more interesting for the three-time Olympic medalist as she and White begin the 20-stop Stars on Ice tour later this week. Davis recently found time in her busy schedule to chat with TeamUSA.org about her new partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, competing against White and the upcoming Stars on Ice tour.
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|Meryl Davis and professional dance partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy perform a cha-cha during week one of "Dancing with the Stars" on March 17, 2014.|
It’s been really busy, but it’s going to be more busy when the Stars on Ice tour starts. So I’m trying to stay rested and gear up for the double duty that we’ll have when we’re doing “Dancing with the Stars” and Stars on Ice.
The first Stars on Ice show is Friday, April 4, in Fort Myers, Fla. When do you start rehearsals for the tour?
We are leaving April 1 for Orlando, where we’ll start doing rehearsals with the whole cast. It’s coming up really soon and we’re excited for it.
How many programs will you have in the show?
We’ll be doing two solos and five numbers total, so it’s going to be a pretty packed show for us, but it’s such an amazing experience being a part of the Stars on Ice tour so we’re really excited.
How many Stars on Ice tours have you been part of in the past?
We did the entire U.S. tour after the Olympics in 2010, and it was 42 shows that year, and we did part of the Canadian tour two years ago.
What will your two solo performances be?
We’re doing a little bit different version of our Scheherazade free dance in the show, and we’re also doing our new program to Rachmaninov that we did for the exhibition during the Olympics.
|Meryl Davis and Maksim Chmerkovskiy perform a swing dance
during week two of "Dancing with the Stars" on March 24, 2014.
It’ll be so cool. A lot of them were just at world championships and Charlie and I were definitely rooting them on from here in LA. Getting a chance to be back with them and spending time with our friends is going to be really cool for us.
How is dancing going compared to what you expected going into the show?
I would say Charlie and I are both definitely feeling the movement is really challenging. It’s so different from the way we move on the ice. We’ve danced in the past but it was always with the idea that we were taking it back to the ice, so we’re finding dancing on the floor for the sake of dancing on the floor pretty challenging.
Some viewers think you have an unfair advantage coming into the show as ice dancers. How similar are the two?
The idea of skating is applicable to a lot of the styles of dancing, but the actual physicality of it is completely different.
You’re used to being in a judged sport, so how do you feel about the scores you’ve received the first two weeks?
People have been asking me that, but I’m having such a wonderful experience so far. I’m getting more comfortable week to week, and there’s a lot to work on and a lot to improve on so I’m not lingering on the scores.
Let’s talk about your dance partner, Maks. What are your thoughts on him, and how is your relationship going?
He is absolutely fantastic. He is an incredibly talented dancer and instructor. I’m equally impressed with him just chatting with him and getting to know him; he’s a really cool, really impressive person.
You’re obviously very disciplined from your figure skating background. Is that helping in your training with Maks?
I think the learning process is something I’m very used to. I’m used to being challenged by things and working on them. I think what’s been the most natural for me is the learning process.
How has it felt to be competing against Charlie for once?
We’re actually not feeling like we’re competing against each other. We certainly are, but we’ve been a partnership for 17 years and I think that dynamic is so much a part of how we relate to one another. Even though we’re going out and we’re performing our respective dances, I think we really feel like we’re going through this together.
Have you been able to compare notes and experiences?
Oh absolutely. I think a lot of our tendencies are very similar or almost exactly the same. We’ll talk about how things are going and how we’re feeling — definitely.
What has it been like having the figure skating community support you on the show?
It’s been really cool! We have such a family in the skating community that having their support has been really cool and having them be part of this journey outside the skating world has been real fun for us.
Three figure skating gold medalists have competed on the show prior to you — have you received advice from any of them?
Evan Lysacek texted us some words of wisdom, which was really nice, and Kristi Yamaguchi is really supportive and it was great to have her there for the first show.
For the first time in the show’s history, contestants will be switching partners Monday night based on fan voting. How do you feel about the switch-up, and is there anyone you’d like to be partnered with?
I’m not a fan of the idea of the switch-up. I feel so comfortable because I’m in the rhythm that Maks and I have developed over the past couple weeks. I’m not encouraging any specific partnership, I think I’ll just go with whomever the audience votes for, especially since it’s required we switch partners and it’s happening, but I hope we switch back.
How are you feeling about your upcoming dance, the foxtrot?
I’m enjoying it. It’s been nice that we’ve had some variety, whether it’s swing, foxtrot or cha-cha, they’re all different. It’s been nice to experience drastically different dances right off the bat.