Michigan natives and University of Michigan students Meryl Davis and Charlie White are known in the ice dancing world for their intricate footwork and the quick, athletic style they bring to their programs. Here, five more fun facts about the top-ranked American dance team.
They've been together for 13 years
Not romantically - they're only partners on the ice. Davis and White were paired together when they were eight and nine years old, though then, they rarely spoke.
"Our coach put us together in dance, and Meryl had never really done ice dance before and I was a little advanced," White said. "So I was like, ‘Really? You're going to make me skate with this girl who has no idea what she's doing?'"
Their coach kept threatening that he was going to put sticker on White's head so Davis would have something to look at while they were skating; she was too shy to look him in the eyes. But slowly, they grew into talking to each other and have become friends and now, practically family.
"Our siblings, our mothers and fathers get along really well," Davis said. "His aunts and cousins, I know everyone. So it works really well."
Their motivation comes from one tiny number
That number is .04. That's how close Davis and White were to a world medal championship last year, though many in the skating world believed they should have been on the podium - even some judges, according to their coaches.
"It was a big disappointment to come so close to the podium and [after] everything that we worked for, not quite reach it," White said. "As if we needed more encouragement or motivation for the Olympic year, it was definitely being point zero four off of a podium at Worlds. A lot of times I wake up in the morning and it's like, point zero-four. And I hop out of bed and I'm ready to go. I don't need to think of anything else."
Their original dance is a YouTube sensation
Davis and White's original dance depicts an Indian wedding ceremony and is set to a selection of Indian songs, chosen with the input of a traditional Indian dancer. The idea came from one of their coaches, Marina Zoueva, who spotted a scarf in a Hermes cataglog with an Indian-themed design and immediately thought of Davis. In order to maintain the authenticity of the dance, Davis and White took Indian dance lessons. Davis' costume is crafted out of authentic Indian fabric, chosen by Davis and her mother. When she saw the finished product, Zoueva said to herself, "I am genius!" She was correct. A video of the dance has gone viral on YouTube, with just one version garnering almost 250,000 page views - many from India. The significance is not lost on Davis and White.
"Charlie and I have been saying for the last couple weeks and months that having support from the country which we're attempting a folk dance from is really the greatest compliment we could have," Davis said. "It's a very foreign thing for us to attempt and obviously it was a little bit of a risk but we're so glad that we did and we really appreciate all the support."
They grew up around Olympians
And not just their highly-touted rivals and former training partners Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto. They've trained together with Todd Eldredge, who finished fourth in Nagano, Olympic gold medalist Tara Lipinski and dance teams of Elizabeth Punsalan/Jerod Swallow and Jessica Joseph/Charles Butler.
"There was always a lot of hustle and bustle before the Olympics for us because all those people were at our rink. So before the Olympics came about, there was a lot of media in our rink already," Davis said. "And then we moved to the Arctic Edge in Canton and Tanith and Ben were on their way to the Olympics so again, there was a lot of media. So we've always kind of seen the behind the scenes of Olympic preparation."
They can see the ceiling in the Olympic venue
When Davis went on a family trip to Niagra Falls as a child, she burst into tears - she was upset because she thought they would be bigger. A self-described dreamer, Davis says that she often imagines things to be so big and grand, usually beyond comprehension.
"Charlie and I competed at the Four Continents Championships last season in Vancouver and it was funny because we got to the rink and we walked in and we said, "Wow it's a normal rink! We can see the ceiling," Davis said. "We didn't think we were going to be able to see the ceiling in the Olympic arena."
And that, they say, is a good thing.
"It kind of brought it back down to life for me because it's always been so out of reach, you know, just something to imagine," White said. "So, was interesting actually being there."
"This works out in our favor because going into such an incredible venue for something that's so big and such a big deal, I think it's better to walk in and say, ‘Ok, you know, I can do this,'" Davis said. "As opposed to saying, " ‘Oh my god, this is so much more than I expected.'"