“We are completely unprepared for this moment”

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SOCHI, Russia – Every moment of Meryl Davis and Charlie White’s very existence was planned up to when they took to the ice Monday night at the Iceberg Skating Palace.

And then?

And then they won an Olympic gold medal.

“We are completely unprepared for this moment,” White says into a camera backstage, where they’ve been whisked following an on-ice flower ceremony and photos. “We were completely prepared to go out there and skate and earn it but our brains have not caught up to what we’ve accomplished.”

What they have accomplished is this: They become the first American ice dancers to win Olympic gold in history and join the rarefied group of figure skaters who have won three medals after capturing silver in Vancouver and helping the U.S. to team bronze last week.

VIDEO: Watch their gold-medal routine

“We can’t take all the credit,” says White, sweat still pouring off his forehead. “We want to share it with so many people who have supported us over the years.”

But first, there were so many people to talk to: the dozens – if not couple of hundred – of members of the media that would fire questions at them, the new Olympic champions. Davis and White, still dressed in their Olympic-winning costumes, make their way interview by interview through the media mixed zone, talking to nearly 15 camera crews, then a slew of newspaper reporters.

They stop just once, their eyes caught by something on the wall behind an interviewer holding out a microphone: a TV screen with a replay of their final free dance.

“I’m still in utter disbelief,” Davis says a minute later after being whisked by the media handler to their next camera. “I feel like I’m going to wake up at any minute now. We’re so thrilled.”

VIDEO: Davis, White explain origins of their program

The handlers hold stop watches, clicking START when a camera crew begins, allotting them 90 seconds – or about two or three questions – before giving them a whirling finger off to the side. “Wrap it up,” they’ll mouth.

Yet for Davis and White, things are just beginning. Every athlete at the Olympics knows he or she has a long list of media requirements following their respective competition, but for this gold-winning ice dance duo from the U.S., the thrilling days ahead will be nearly as exhausting as a two-practice day on the rink in suburban Detroit.

“It’s our whole lives,” Davis says of what they’ve been working towards. “More than our time on the ice – we’ve grown up together in every sense. So this is pretty special.”

But the one thing that they’ve never done is this: a media tour as Olympic gold medalists. “Congratulations!” NBC Olympics host Summer Sanders says to them before they speak on camera. They’ll hear that a lot on this night. From a lot of different people.

“Charlie and I keep looking at each other and saying, ‘It’s real,’” Davis had told NBC’s Andrea Joyce when they came off the ice.

VIDEO: Davis, White “in shock” after first Olympic gold

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” White tells a camera crew down interview line. “From one moment to the next it’ll sink in more, but we prepared ourselves so well for what we needed to do today – we focused so hard on that – that we weren’t prepared for what would come after. It may take some time to sink in.”

The questions help it sink in:

  • “How does it feel?”
  • “Have you spoken to Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir yet?”
  • “What does it mean to make history tonight?”
  • “Do you remember first skating together when you were kids?”

Charlie does.

“I had already been doing ice dance for six months and she hadn’t done it yet so I was pretty annoyed that I had to dance with her,” he says, laughing. “I had to go back a few dances that were lower level. But it was pretty obvious that she was going to hold her own no matter what we did even though she had never done it before. But we were sticking together like glue.”

They stuck by each other’s side for some 17 years, first winning a silver in Vancouver before tonight, a night that really only began at 10:11 PM, when they took to the ice. After finishing with the TV cameras, they make their way from the mixed zone directly into a packed press conference, where other journalists and more questions await, the team sitting at a table alongside Virtue/Moir, who they beat at the Olympics four years after settling for silver.

VIDEO: Davis, White break down their routine

After the press conference, Davis/White are due on the NBC primetime set past 2 am. Yet on this night they have no golden dreams to dream anymore, mostly because they’ve already accomplished them.

Plans for what’s next?

“As far as moving forward,” White says. “I don’t even know where I’m sitting right now.”

Canada names Olympic Opening Ceremony flag bearers

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Figure skaters Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are Canada’s flag bearers for the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony on Feb. 9.

It’s the first time Canada will have multiple flag bearers at an Opening Ceremony.

Virtue and Moir won ice dance gold at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and silver in Sochi in 2014.

After a two-year break, they went undefeated last season and won their third world championship.

They lost for the first time in their comeback at last month’s Grand Prix Final to French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

Canada finished in the top three in the total medal standings at the last three Winter Olympics, including topping the gold-medal standings at the 2010 Vancouver Games with a record 14.

Recent Canadian Winter Olympic flag bearers
2014 Opening: Hayley Wickenheiser, Hockey
2014 Closing: Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse, Bobsled
2010 Opening: Clara Hughes, Speed Skating
2010 Closing: Joannie Rochette, Figure Skating
2006 Opening: Danielle Goyette, Hockey
2006 Closing: Cindy Klassen, Speed Skating
2002 Opening: Catriona Le May Doan, Speed Skating
2002 Closing: Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, Figure Skating

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MORE: Canada’s Olympic figure skating team roster

Dale Earnhardt Jr. to cover Super Bowl LII, Olympics for NBC

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cover Super Bowl LII and the PyeongChang Olympics as a contributor for NBC.

Earnhardt will spend the first weekend in February covering the outdoor activities in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Pre-Game Show (NBC, Feb. 4).

Then he will travel to South Korea for the Winter Games.

From NBC Sports PR:

“Earnhardt will travel to PyeongChang, where he will explore the culture, people, and traditions in South Korea, and experience Olympic competitions first hand. Earnhardt will visit the speed skating venue at Gangneung Ice Arena, and through the lens of a racer will view the speed, close contact, and tight turns on the short track speed skating oval, which so closely mirror Earnhardt’s racing days and nights at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Following a recent invite on social media from his new friends on the U.S. bobsled team, including U.S. bobsled team pilot Nick Cunningham, Earnhardt will also travel to Alpensia Sliding Center, where he will test the true speed of the bobsled track and live out his post-retirement dream of riding in an Olympic bobsled.”

Earnhardt, 43, retired last year after 19 NASCAR seasons, which included Daytona 500 wins in 2004 and 2014.

He is now a NASCAR on NBC analyst.

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MORE: Breakdown of NBC Olympics record 2,400 hours of programming