After winning Olympic gold in the individual ice-dancing event at the Sochi Olympics on February 17, it is clear that figure skaters Meryl Davis and Charlie White are perfectly synonymous with one another, both on and off the ice.
That hasn’t always been the case. When Davis and White first started skating together in 1997, their personalities didn’t immediately gel. Davis was too bashful to look her partner in the eye, and White, who had already been training for several months, was impatient at having to slow down his progress for Davis to pick up.
However, the two have been training together for the past 17 years under coach Marina Zoueva, who also works with their rivals, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. By becoming the first U.S. ice-dancers to win gold at the Olympics, Davis and White have established themselves as the epitome of synchronicity. Today, they stand as the longest ice-dancing partners in the nation.
The pair set both a new personal best and a new world record with their free skate program in Sochi. They achieved a score of 116.63, beating Virtue and Moir by a mere 1.97 points. Davis and White received a level 4 in all of their elements and a score of 10 from each of the judges for their choreography and timing. Combined with their short program from the previous night, the couple received a total score of 195.52.
Even without taking the scores into account, Davis and White’s performance was stunning. In their short program, the couple danced to songs from My Fair Lady, and in the free dance, they skated to excerpts from Scheherazade, appearing to move as one unit as they executed every extension, pirouette, and twizzle seamlessly.
The routine was so athletic that White felt the need to rest for a moment after it was over. After kneeling on the ice for a few seconds, he stood up and wrapped Davis in a bear hug, whispering that he loved her.
Virtue and Moir took home the silver with a score of 76.33 for their short program, 114.66 for their free dance, and a total score of 190.99.
Prior to taking the floor at the Iceberg Skating Palace in Sochi, Davis and White had already made quite a name for themselves. They were the silver medalists at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 – Virtue and Moir took home the gold that year – and were the world champions both in 2011 and 2013. Davis and White are also six-time national champions – the couple has not lost a U.S. championship since 2008 – and five-time Grand Prix Final Champions, having swept that competition every year since 2009.
In addition to winning gold in the individual event, Davis and White helped win the bronze in the team ice-dance event earlier in the week. As part of a celebration to commemorate their success as a couple, White played the violin on the Today Show – the first time he had touched the instrument in three years. Both Davis and White and Virtue and Moir have done countless interviews since the competition, and their publicity is likely to continue throughout the next couple of months.
Once the mania for Davis and White has died down, Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov are predicted to take the stage as the next up-and-coming ice-dancing team. The Russian couple’s gorgeous interpretation of Swan Lake in the free dance event helped them to place third in the individual competition in Sochi, behind Davis and White and Virtue and Moir.
Both Davis and White were born in Michigan and are students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. While Virtue and Moir have announced that Winter 2014 is their last season of competition, their American rivals have yet to make such a decision. Whatever the case, both couples will forever be recognized as Olympic champions, and will serve as role models for aspiring ice-dancers for years to come.