Charlie White left “Dancing with the Stars” the same way he entered the show nine weeks earlier: with a smile. The Olympic ice dance gold medalist and partner Sharna Burgess suffered a tough blow when they were eliminated Monday night, despite receiving two perfect scores from the judges in their final two weeks on the show.
True to their always-positive nature, though, White and Burgess refused to let the elimination get them down. If anything, White said, this will only free up his time to be a cheerleader for his ice dance partner, Meryl Davis, as she and dance partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy compete in next week’s final against para-snowboarding bronze medalist Amy Purdy, actress Candace Cameron Bure and singer James Maslow.
White and Burgess flew from Los Angeles to New York immediately following Monday’s show for various television appearances and, just before flying back to LA a few short hours later, they found time to speak to TeamUSA.org one final time about their dancing journey.
Yeah, I think so. When we were standing up there it was what I expected when we saw the three who were in jeopardy. It’s tough because we’re disappointed; we wanted to dance until the end after making it so far, but it’s a group of very deserving individuals. We recognized that this has been an amazing journey, and we’re grateful for pretty much everything else.
At what point did you start to think you were going home?
I think as soon as we knew it was the three Olympians in jeopardy, I had a bit of a feeling, but it could have gone any way. Having said that, I’m really looking forward to cheering on my fellow Team USA-ers.
How did it feel being eliminated after receiving perfect scores two weeks in a row?
It’s disappointing. We were looking forward to moving on and up, and it felt like we were peaking at the right time. It’s just one of those things where it doesn’t work out the way that you want it to, and, thankfully, with all my experience in competing you learn how to handle disappointment. Both of us are looking at the bright side and trying to learn from it.
Would you have done anything differently over the past nine weeks?
Absolutely not. That’s one of the reasons we can hold our heads so high leaving. We can honestly say to ourselves and to each other that we did pretty much everything we could have, whether it be choreographically or being true to ourselves in a reality TV show, which maybe isn’t always the easiest, or the way we represented ourselves. It’s not easy, but we did literally everything that we could.
What is your favorite memory from the show?
It’s tough to say there’s just one. I think Disney night when we got to do our (“Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” dance) was really special. It was one of those moments you’ll never forget. I got to dance with some cartoon penguins — that’s pretty memorable. It was a really special night.
Has the show given you a new appreciation for ballroom dancing?
Yeah, I don’t want to say I didn’t have a huge appreciation for it before but I think once you get into it and you start to see — it’s just as detailed-oriented as figure skating in every regard and of course you’re going to have a better appreciation for it the more you try to learn it and struggle with it.
Do you plan to continue dancing in some form?
Haha. Yeah, I don’t know if it’ll be mostly at weddings or what, but I definitely have enjoyed the dancing, and where I go from here I have no idea. It’s definitely a really fun time and getting to learn something new like that is special.
Which cast members do you think you’ll stay in touch with?
Obviously Sharna. For me, Drew Carey became a pretty good friend, Cody (Simpson) also, and I’ve been having a good time with James (Maslow). I guess Meryl, too, haha. I think all of us have grown quite close, and we’ll always feel like a family, having gone through this together.
You said right after your elimination on the show that you can now support Team Meryl. What will it be like to watch her continue on in the competition?
It’s been a pleasure watching her this whole time. She’s been doing such an amazing job. Now I don’t have to field the question, ‘What’s it like going against Meryl?’ and I’m grateful for that because I do like to be 100-percent supporter and that’s how we’ve been our entire lives. I’m looking forward to her going out there and killing it just like she’s done the entire show.
Why do you think fans should vote for Meryl?
She’s done such an amazing job of representing our country for years and years, with the utmost class and dignity. If there’s any reason to cheer for someone, I think it’s certainly for how they represent you and the flag. I’ve had the personal appreciation getting to see it firsthand, but I think everyone else has seen it, too, and gotten to know her better on the show and seen just how special she is. Obviously there’s a lot of reasons, but everything she’s done for the country, on top of what an amazing dancer she is on a dancing competition show. Those are two pretty compelling reasons.
What’s next for Charlie White?
We’re going to finish it out. We’ll be in the finale, and then we have our last three shows with Stars on Ice. And then we’ll go home. I just bought a house with Tanith (Belbin), so looking forward to checking that out. Soon after that we’ll be going on vacation. It’s pretty much time for a break right now.
What is the final message you would like to say to your fans?
Thank you so much for all of the support. A lot of it began before the Olympics and that was incredibly meaningful, but it was many weeks of this show and the support never faltered and for that I am eternally grateful. It wasn’t always easy. We were very tired a lot of the time and we came to rely on that support. We’re very appreciative.
How are you feeling about the elimination?
It’s tough. You don’t want anybody else standing next to you to go home, but I certainly didn’t want Charlie’s journey to end in the semifinal. It’s no secret that he deserves to be in that final, but so does everybody else there. He has so much left to give. I really wish we got to do more of the ballroom dances, and I was truly excited about a freestyle I designed for him that was about to be epic. We’re definitely sad because it was about to be our best week yet. But we left on a high note. We had two perfect scores and we did a great samba, but we went home and we obviously have a lot of love for everybody left in the competition so we wish them the best.
What will you miss most about spending every day dancing with Charlie?
So many things. I think the answer is I’m going to miss Charlie as a whole. He’s not only a wonderful student and a joy to teach, but he’s also a wonderful friend now. He and his family and Tanith are all such beautiful people and having them in my life every day and every week has really been a blessing. Charlie has taught me so much about positivity and your outlook on life, and that it’s your choice in the way you see the world and the way you react to situations. There are so many things he taught me, which I never expected being that I was the coach in the situation. It’s been a gift to have the experience with him and I will be sad to not dance every day because I loved every minute of it, but we certainly have built a friendship that we’re going to continue past “Dancing with the Stars.”