NEW YORK -- Meryl Davis was the only athlete to walk along the red carpet at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports with her teammate Wednesday night.
But after 17 years of skating with Charlie White and winning the ultimate prize, the Olympic gold medal, together in Sochi, she could not go it alone tonight.
Davis, who has had quite a year having won the title on “Dancing with the Stars,” took home her latest prize, the 2014 Sportswoman of the Year award, in a team sport. Davis and White made history in Sochi, Russia, by becoming the first American ice dancing team to win an Olympic gold medal. They both competed on “Dancing with the Stars,” albeit with different partners, but continue to be each other’s biggest fans.
Davis was named the winner in a field that included the likes of Olympic and world champion basketball player Maya Moore, newly crowned world volleyball champion Alisha Glass and Olympic beach volleyball medalists April Ross and Kerri Walsh Jennings.
Simone Biles, who led Team USA to the gold medal in the team event and captured four gold medals — including the all-around title — at the 2014 World Artistic Gymnastic Championships last week in China, was named the 2014 Sportswoman of the Year.
In addition, Team USA's Noelle Pikus-Pace, who overcame huge obstacles to capture the silver medal in skeleton in Sochi, was honored with the Wilma Rudolph Courage Award. This year marked the 40th anniversary of the Women's Sports Foundation.
“I think there are so many incredible in this room who really transcend sport,” Davis said. “I think that’s what it’s about. It’s about taking what you learn in sport and taking it into any other facet of your life. I respect so many of the women in this room who have been able to do that.”
Although Davis has enjoyed plenty of success this season, another Olympic champion figure skater, Sarah Hughes, said the ice dancer has stayed grounded. Davis and White skated around with Hughes’ nieces at the opening of the Rockefeller Center ice rink Monday.
“Since winning, I’m sure her world has been turned upside down,” said Hughes, who knows a thing or two about that having won the Olympic gold medal in 2002. “But she hasn’t changed at all.”
In addition to the award finalists, there were many accomplished women who gathered at Cipriani Wall Street for the event. Among them were tennis legend Billie Jean King, two-time Olympic figure skating medalist Michelle Kwan, four-time Olympic ice hockey medalists Angela Ruggiero and Julie Chu, Olympic champion swimmer Donna de Varona, and Olympic gold medalist track star Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, who is the United States Olympic Committee’s chief of organizational excellence.
A week ago, Biles, just 17, might have felt like a bit of an outsider in this decorated crowd. Although she had won two national titles and two gold medals a year ago, she came to this party with much more hardware. She didn’t have the medals on her for the event, as her family keeps them tucked away in a safe.
Before the awards were announced, Biles said that winning the award “would mean the world.”
“I'm a newbie this year,” Biles explained, “and I think that it would be really exciting and it would be a really fun thing to do.”
Since her performances in China, Biles said she has been in talks with producers from Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show about being a guest.
“I always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if I could go on Ellen?’” Biles said.
Among the finalists for the award in the individual sport category were Olympic champion slopestyle snowboarder Jamie Anderson, tennis great Serena Williams and Slovenian skier Tina Maze.
One attendee who sang Biles’ praises was none other than Nastia Liukin, who won the Olympic all-around title for Team USA in Beijing.
“I’m glad I’m not competing with her,” Liukin said.
Biles has less than two years to go before the 2016 Olympic Games, but from the looks of things, Biles figures to be among the early contenders in Rio de Janeiro.
“If she stays on this path,” Liukin said, “it’s going to be very difficult to imagine someone could beat her.”
Amy Rosewater is a freelance writer and editor for TeamUSA.org. She has covered five Olympic Games and her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today.