Members of the U.S. figure skating team pose for a photo at the "Champions in Life" benefit gala on April 29, 2019 in Manhattan, N.Y.
NEW YORK – As the flashbulbs popped and photographers hollered their names, Olympic medalists Meryl Davis and Sasha Cohen shared a hug on the red carpet of the Figure Skating in Harlem “Champions in Life” benefit gala, held Monday evening in Manhattan.
The two, rarely in the same room, were part of the bevy of figure skating royalty that attended the annual benefit, which this year honored 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Timothy Goebel.
Along with Davis, Cohen and Goebel, Tanith and Charlie White made an appearance, as did fellow ice dancers Maia and Alex Shibutani and TV stars Al Roker and Robin Roberts, Roker serving as the night’s host and Roberts – alongside Goebel – being recognized in front of a ballroom of well-to-do supporters of the famed figure skating charity.
“I’m over-the-moon excited to be honored tonight,” Goebel, who now lives in New York, told TeamUSA.org. “I was shocked when they first told me. I’ve been involved with Figure Skating in Harlem for over 20 years… and we have so many people that do so much with these girls and this program.”
Goebel has been dipping his toe pick back into skating much more recently, having this January been inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame. He lives with his husband of two years (they celebrated their anniversary Monday night, too), and works as a Global Partnerships Manager at Google, as well as serving on various figure skating boards and committees.
It’s not just Goebel who is staying busy, of course, as Davis and Charlie White swooped in from an East Coast weekend on the Stars on Ice tour to show their support Monday night.
Oh, and Davis is doing that minor thing of planning a wedding, too.
“The wedding is in June in southern France… I can’t believe how quickly it’s coming up!” she said. “We’re planning to spend about a week with our family and friends there after the wedding… which is a big reason we chose a destination wedding. I’m excited to prioritize that time all together.”
Davis is also two classes shy of earning her degree in anthropology from the University of Michigan, both of which she will complete this summer.
She says living out of a suitcase is “still the norm” for her, but boasted that she’s happy to “finally be close to finishing school.”
It was Cohen, now 34, who graduated from Columbia in 2016, and since has stayed in New York to soak in the unique culture and arts scenes, while working in disruptive change, which looks for new markets for businesses to venture into or innovate within.
Cohen continues to reflect on her career in skating as one chapter in her life, and now is invigorated by thought leaders, philanthropists and storytellers, having gone recently to the TED Conference in Vancouver. She gave her own TEDTalk at TEDxColumbia College in 2014.
“I have this curiosity and desire for community… I want to be around people who inspire me,” she explained. “Skating gave me so many opportunities… I competed, I was technical, I got to explore art, design costumes, pick music, choreograph, perform. But it didn’t allow me the time explore these intellectual curiosities. You could say I’m making up for lost time.”
There is little “lost time” these days for Tanith and Charlie, who have son Charlie III, now a year and a half old. But, of course, that hasn’t held either of them back from staying as occupied as ever, which recently has meant tour for Charlie alongside Davis, and more and more NBC TV work for Tanith.
“I just came off of a week of play-by-play for curling, which is a new sport for me to venture into in play-by-play as opposed to sideline reporting,” said Tanith. “That was very exciting. Beyond that, I’m doing beach volleyball commentating, diving and on and on. (The variety) really is my favorite part of my job.”
She’s also busy with Charlie III as well as still working on her bachelor’s degree, much like her husband.
Charlie Jr., separately, has stepped up his choreography work for the 2019-20 competitive figure skating season, having found major success with French pairs team Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres’ free skate this past year (among others).
“I’m doing a lot of choreography this spring and summer – more than last year,” he said. “It’s good, it’s fun. It’s challenging for obvious reasons: ‘How do I help these skaters make their dreams come true?’ That’s hard to do.”
Charlie said the choreography work has been – while not totally unexpected – more fulfilling than he might have thought when he started.
“It was always something that I was interested in, but I love the personal connection of it,” he said. “I love inundating the people I’m working with, with ‘the why’ of what we’re doing… it was my favorite part of working with Marina [Zoueva]. I love the creative process… it sends shivers down my spine.”
And shivers would go down the spine, too, for how inspirational this group is for the young women of Figure Skating in Harlem, not to mention the sport as a whole.