Meryl Davis and Charlie White hope to inspire a new generation of skaters
After Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, they were greeted as heroes back home. The ice dancing duo performed a shortened version of their free dance to Scheherazade on the Stars On Ice tour immediately following the Olympics, and the moments when the American audience rose to their feet for the Olympic champions still give Meryl Davis chills to this day. “We had 20 shows. Every single time they announced us (as Olympic champions), the American audience was there embracing us. The hair in my arms just stood up every single time,” Davis recalled.
It has been a year and a half now since Meryl Davis and Charlie White captured the first ever Olympic gold medal in ice dancing for the United States. The Olympic champions have not competed since their win in Sochi, but have continued to inspire people in and out of the sport. Davis and White opened the landmark ice rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City on October 13th, and were joined by young skaters from both Figure Skating in Harlem and Ice Theatre in New York. Following their performance, Davis and White skated the first session of the season at the Rockefeller Center ice rink with the young skaters who look up to them.
Davis and White, two of the most decorated skaters in the history of American figure skating, are well aware that they are role models for the young generation of skaters and kids in general. Knowing kids may emulate what they do and what they say in public, Davis and White always use their energy in positive ways, even on the bad days. “If I am making excuses or directing my energy at other people, not being positive, and they see that , and they are like, that is what their favorite ice dance team says and does, and I should be doing it too,” White explained, sitting at the Rock Center Cafe with partner Meryl Davis following their performances earlier at the Rockefeller Center ice rink. “Sometimes we might be in a bad mood, but for the sake of children, who look up to you, you suck it up a little bit.”
Apart from sportsmanship, Davis and White also emphasize the important role that education plays in children’s lives. The duo has been partnering with Classroom Champions, an organization that has set up Olympians from both the US and Canada to work with low-income students since 2011. “(We) work with classrooms that are in need, based off of how many kids need assistance for lunch, who don’t have role models, who don't have people in their lives,” White explained. Davis and White make videos every month to teach kids important attributes such as honesty, perseverance and fair play, relating their Olympic experiences to make their stories interesting for children. Davis considers telling their skating stories an accessible way to teach kids life lessons. “We fall, we literally get ourselves back up, and do better the next time.”
Over the past months, Meryl Davis has also been doing research on starting her own foundation. Davis plans to set up a for-purpose company with the goal of empowering young girls and women, who struggle to find confidence in a culture that does not necessarily breed a healthy mindset. “Young girls are programed to believe that everyone else is perfect. Everything is great,” Davis said, “For 99.99999% of the people in the world, that’s just not reality. I think unfortunately women can create this feeling of allowing girls to feel alone in the struggle and pitting each girl against one another. But in reality, if we would support each other and be more honest and open about what’s important, what is going to make me a happy, healthy and successful woman, I just don’t think we are putting the emphasis on the right thing.” Determined to make changes, Davis hopes to make an impact on the way girls see themselves and relate to one another.
Though occupied with their post-Olympic lives, Davis and White do not rule out the possibility of returning to competitive skating. Davis and White announced earlier that they will not compete in the upcoming season, but have not made up their minds on whether or not they will get back to training for Pyeongchang 2018. The Olympic champions will start preparing to get back into competitive figure skating, if not competing, by the 2016-2017 season, if they do decide to try out for the next Olympics in South Korea. Regardless of their decision, the ice dancers will remain involved in the skating world and inspire young people to believe in their dreams.
(Journalist/Cherry Ji Photographer/Mo/Share Wang)