Over the last decade, the state of Michigan has seen some remarkable sporting achievements. From the Detroit Pistons winning an NBA title and the Detroit Red Wings capturing the Stanley Cup, to the Motor City hosting the Super Bowl, along with sporting dominance from Michigan State University and the Tigers baseball club, it has been a golden era for sport.
The gold medal accomplishment of Meryl Davis and Charlie White only adds to a proud sporting legacy. With the state having endured various economic hardships, Davis and White represent the state’s fighting spirit and its will to carry on. Hailing from West Bloomfield, Michigan, Davis also had the opportunity to be featured on a Topps trading card commemorating the various athletes competing in Sochi.
After a silver medal performance at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games, Davis and White, the longest running American-based team in the ice dance, returned to training with a renewed sense of purpose. Having skated together since 1997, their chemistry was evident as their dominance at the US and World Championships since Vancouver 2010 spoke volumes about their determination and their talent.
Their hard work yielded remarkable results in Sochi as they became the first US couple to claim gold in ice dance in the 38-year history of the sport in the Winter Games. Graceful, yet determined, Davis captivated fans through her performances featuring flawless precision.
Not afraid to engage in a technically challenging program, there was definitely an element of sensuality in their performance. Skating to Scheherazade, they would interpret the story of a Persian king and the enchantress who seduces him during their performance, Davis was adorned in a lavender dress that dared with jewels around the midriff. Along with the ability to provide to perform tight traveling spins known as twizzles, Davis and White earned themselves a Winter Games record for highest score.
Having also helped the United States to a bronze medal in Sochi for the inaugural Winter Games event of Team Figure Skating, the medals Davis has won in the Games now covers all the colors of the Olympic spectrum (gold, silver and bronze). With the inaugural event being contested in the early days of Sochi, it provided fans with a sneak peek of what to expect when Davis and White would skate for gold in the ice dance a few days later.
Of note, there was a controversy before and during Sochi in Canadian media, because they share the same trainer, Russian-born Marina Zoueva, as Canadian rivals and friends, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir (the gold medalists in Vancouver). French media even suggested that there was a scandal with regards to American and Russian judges. Not playing up to the controversy, Davis and White proved that they were truly deserving of the moniker of world champions.
While the competitions between Davis & White and Virtue & Moir on-ice entail one of the bigger rivalries in the Winter Games, the Canadian and American skaters have known each other since 2001. Beating their long-time friends by merely 2.56 points (116.63 points to 114.66) made the win much more intense.
As a side note, Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates, along with Maia and Alex Shibutani earned eighth and ninth place finishes, it provides hope for another strong US showing in Pyeongchang 2018. Perhaps the most heart-warming aspect of the ride to the gold that Davis and White undertook was the three genuine and sincere words uttered to Davis after the performance. An emotionally exhausted White buried his head in Davis’ shoulder and said “I love you.”
Davis follows in the footsteps of other legendary American female figure skaters such as Peggy Fleming, Dorothy Hamill, Jill Trenary, Nancy Kerrigan and Sarah Hughes. Considering that ice dance was an event that the United States was not dominant at for several years, Davis would emerge as a pioneer, possibly inspiring a new generation of young women to compete.
While she is planning to retire from amateur competition, there is no question that her grace and beauty makes her a natural to participate in the professional circuit. For now, her role in adding to the great sporting history that Michigan has recently experienced, not only raises the morale of a dejected state, but endears her to a state of fans that respect her determination to succeed.