“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.”

Mark McMorris hospitalized after snowboarding accident

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Olympic bronze medalist Mark McMorris suffered several injuries including a fractured jaw, fractured left arm, ruptured spleen, stable pelvic fracture, rib fractures and a collapsed left lung during a backcountry snowboarding trip Saturday, according to Canada Snowboard.

McMorris underwent surgery to control bleeding from the spleen on Saturday. He underwent another surgery to repair the jaw and arm fractures Sunday and was resting in Vancouver General Hospital on Monday morning.

“While both the mandible and humerus fractures were complicated injuries, the surgeries went very well, and both fractures are now stabilized to heal in excellent position,” Canada Snowboard team physician Dr. Rodney J. French said, according to the press release. “It is too early to speculate on a timeline for Mark’s recovery.”

McMorris, 23, won bronze in the first Olympic snowboard slopestyle event in Sochi, competing 12 days after breaking a rib.

McMorris has been considered a threat for two gold medals in PyeongChang, with the addition of big air. He earned Winter X Games medals in both slopestyle and big air in 2015, 2016 and 2017, including double gold in 2015.

He has already come back in this Olympic cycle from breaking his right femur in an Air and Style big air run in Los Angeles on Feb. 21, 2016 (video here). His rehab has been extensively documented by Canadian media.

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MORE: McMorris, after horrible injury, ups risk for 2 golds in PyeongChang

Several women’s players spurn worlds inquiry from USA Hockey

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As sports organizations and notable hockey figures express support of the U.S. women’s team, several players say they rejected overtures from USA Hockey to serve as replacements for the upcoming world championships.

Two players told The Associated Press on Friday that USA Hockey reached out to them to gauge their interest for the worlds, which begin next week in Plymouth, Michigan.

Brittany Ott, a goaltender for the Boston Pride of the National Women’s Hockey League, and Annie Pankowski, a junior forward at the University of Wisconsin, said the email from USA Hockey was not an invitation but rather an inquiry about their availability.

“I responded to that email and I said I’m not willing,” Pankowski said.

A third player, goalie Lauren Dahm, told the AP on Saturday she also turned down an invitation. Dahm plays for the Canadian Women’s Hockey League Boston Blades.

The U.S. team has said it plans to boycott the worlds over a wage dispute with USA Hockey, which confirmed Thursday it would begin reaching out to potential replacement players. Several players posted messages on social media saying they support the national team and would decline or have declined any outreach from USA Hockey.

“From a personal standpoint I have never been invited to a USA Hockey series or camp or anything like that and I would honestly love to be invited to something like that,” Ott said by phone. “However at the current time, this is a fight that I believe in and I’m definitely going to stand up and help fight as much as I can.”

Many players posted a version of a Jerry Rice quote on Twitter on Friday: “Today I will do what others won’t so tomorrow I can do what others can’t. I said no to USAH & will not play in the 2017WC.” Not all players who tweeted that message were asked by USA Hockey if they could play.

On Saturday, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith joined the chorus of support for the players, saying on Twitter the organization stands behind their pursuit of fairness and equality.

“These women understand inequality when they see it and are expressing their right to be treated fairly as athletes and workers,” Smith tweeted. “Of course, they have the NFLPA’s support in daring to withhold their services until a fair agreement is reached.”

Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol posted his support on Twitter, calling players competitors and role models.

On Friday, the NHL Players’ Association and Major League Baseball players posted messages of support. The NHLPA posted on Twitter that it supports players and panned USA Hockey’s bid to stock the team with replacements, adding that the decision “would only serve to make relations, now and in the future, much worse.”

The MLBPA encouraged all female hockey players to stand united behind their national team colleagues.

Players are seeking a four-year contract that includes payments outside the six-month Olympic period. The sides met for 10-plus hours Monday, but players have called USA Hockey’s counterproposal “disappointing.”

USA Hockey said Thursday its priority was to have all the players selected for the national team on the ice March 31 when the tournament begins. But the organization added that it informed players’ representatives it would begin reaching out to potential replacements with the tournament coming up.

Star national team forward Hilary Knight said last week she wished USA Hockey luck putting together a suitable team of replacements to defend the gold medal because the player pool was united in the dispute. Ott and Pankowski said they had not heard from any players expressing a willingness to play in worlds.

“It’s a very unified front,” Ott said. “It’s a tight-knit community that we have in women’s hockey here. This is definitely a big opportunity for us to make a big change and have a big impact on our sport and have it grow. We’re all standing together.”

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MORE: Stanley Cup-winning goalie joins U.S. women’s coaching staff