|Meryl's Canadian "granny" Marian Davis (nee Dennis) at the
Dennis Family Reunion in London, Ont., in Summer 2011.
When the World Figure Skating Championships take place next week in London, Ont., there naturally will be plenty of hometown support for Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 Olympic ice dancing champions and natives of London.
But they won’t be the only ones with drawing the cheers from Canadian fans in the Budweiser Gardens.
Yes, there is an American team that will have its share of fans in London, too.
Meryl Davis, who trains with Charlie White just a couple of hours away from London in Detroit, has plenty of family ties to the Canadian city. Davis said she expects about two dozen or so relatives and friends from the London area to be at the World Championships, where she hopes to reclaim the world title.Davis and White made history by becoming the first U.S. ice dancing team to win a world title in 2011, but the following year they finished second, behind Virtue and Moir.
Davis and White have won every competition they have entered this season, including their fifth national title and two international events when they competed against Virtue and Moir. Davis and White and Virtue and Moir all train together with the same coaches in Detroit and they figure to be the top medal contenders less than a year from now at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
But this competition will be different. As White put it, the atmosphere in London will be “electric.” So Davis and White hope their skating will win over the crowd. It will help a bit that Davis has ties to the city of London.
|Alex, one of Meryl's Canadian cousins who will be cheering in
Meryl’s paternal grandmother, Marian Davis (nee Dennis), was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, but moved to London at a young age and was raised there. Meryl’s grandfather, Ken Davis, was from Detroit and had come to London thinking he would court Marian’s older sister.
As it turns out, Marian, who was about 16 at the time, fell off her bicycle and Ken came to her aid. They wound up dating and he would travel from Detroit to London to take her out. He went to serve in World War II and she worked as a secretary in London for the Labatt Brewing Company. They were married in 1950 in London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and later moved to Detroit. Meryl’s father, Paul, later was born in Detroit.
But the Davis family would cross the border quite a bit for family reunions in London and in nearby areas. Meryl and her younger brother, Clay, would spend time in Canada over summer vacation when they were young and they often would travel to London for various holidays.
“I kind of grew up on Canadian Thanksgiving in London,” Meryl Davis said.
Over the years, Davis and White competed numerous times in Canada. In fact, their first international competition was held outside Toronto and at the end of that competition, several Canadian family members arranged a big Italian dinner. They have skated in Quebec City and competed to an Olympic silver medal in 2010 in Vancouver and have toured at cities throughout Canada. But these upcoming world championships will mark their competitive debut in London. (They did perform in London in a show with the Canadian Stars on ice tour.)
Although Davis’ paternal grandparents will not be able to travel to London to see her compete at worlds, they will be tuned into the competition on TV. Among those who will be in attendance in London are several cousins, one of whom is a retired mountie who was the bodyguard for Prince Philip when the Royal Family visited from England. Other cousins are professors, farmers and attorneys. Davis’ family will be spread out throughout the arena during the competition, and as close-knit as this family is, all of them know they cannot sit with Meryl’s mom. Cheryl Davis always sits with White’s mother, Jacqui, and they spend the entire event focused on the skating. Not even Meryl’s father or her brother sit with them.
|Meryl and her brother Clayton with her grandparents Marian
Typically, Canadian fans support their own skaters extremely well, and Virtue and Moir are adored as the first Canadian ice dancers to win an Olympic gold medal. But Canadians tend to applaud good skating even when it comes from skaters out of the country.
“We’ve always received a warm welcome in Canada,” Davis said “I always find it exciting to compete in Canada. They really appreciate skating.”
Still, for Davis and White, it will be of some comfort knowing that some of those Canadians in the crowd will be cheering for the Americans.
Said Davis’ father, Paul: “The Canadians always give them more than polite applause but at least a few dozen fans in the crowd will be vehemently applauding.”
Amy Rosewater is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org. This story was not subject to the approval of any National Governing Bodies.