Sixteen years ago, Meryl Davis and Charlie White began a skating journey together in Michigan. Now they are in position to make ice dancing history in Sochi.
The United States has never had an ice dancing team win gold at an Olympic Winter Games. Davis and White, who have won two world championships and six U.S. championships, could become the first.
They begin their quest Sunday at the Iceberg Skating Palace with the short dance. The free dance will be held the following night.
It is a powerful stage for Davis, 27, and White, 26, who have been skating together since they were 10 years old. Together, they became the first U.S. team to win a world title, and in 2013, they won a second world crown. They have won five Grand Prix Final titles and earned the silver medal at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
“I think a lot of our ability to kind of rise above the nerves from one competition to the next is very much dependent on our comfort level, taking the ice no matter what the circumstance,” Davis said. “Kind of hand in hand as we have since we were young children.”
In addition, Davis and White could be the first figure skaters in U.S. history to win two medals at the same Winter Games. Their first-place finishes in both the short and long programs at the inaugural Olympic team competition helped the United States earn the bronze medal.
In both routines in the team competition, Davis and White glided through their programs with an endless series of lifts, jumps and strong skating moves that impressed the judges. Their free dance score of 114.34 was nearly seven points ahead of Canadian rivals and 2010 Olympic gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, with whom they train at Arctic Edge in Canton, Mich.
Perhaps that was a hint of what is to come in the individual ice dancing program.
“It felt really complete and with a score like that, it definitely seems like it came across to the judges,” White said. “We’re feeling confident in what we’re doing, but I think tonight we’re just so proud to be a part of Team USA and what Team USA was able to accomplish out on the ice.”
Davis and White have dominated internationally since finishing as runners-up to Virtue and Moir four years ago in Vancouver. They have won two of the past three world titles, including 2013. They won the gold medal at every competition they entered in 2013, including the ISU Grand Prix Final. Their 13 career Grand Prix medals include gold medals at their last five Grand Prix competitions.
Beyond their list of accomplishments, Davis and White form a close but unique team that dates back to elementary school days. They are both from suburban Michigan towns outside Detroit. They both attend the University of Michigan.
They also have a strong sense of American ice dancing history, which has included just three Olympic medals.
In previous years, American ice dancing could not seem to crack the medal podium. But it made steady progress and now Davis and White could reach the ultimate goal of winning the Olympic gold medal.