Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Olympic champions hit New York talk shows (video)

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NEW YORK — Meryl Davis shivered. Charlie White clenched his hands.

How did it feel to be Olympic champions? Freezing cold at The Rink at Rockefeller Center on Wednesday morning.

The first U.S. Olympic ice dance gold medalists started a hectic day of appearances with their first skate on American ice since their Sochi triumph. They performed in costume to their “My Fair Lady” short dance music as flurries began to fall in 27 degrees.

They’ve skated at the famous rink before, but chills aside, it meant more this time.

“Doing it as an Olympic champion,” White said afterward in a TODAY Show green room, “it’s just a different level.”

Davis and White’s planner called for trips from the Rockefeller rink to Kathie Lee and Hoda to a Visa appearance to a Ralph Lauren store autograph signing to a Stephen Colbert interview.

They’ve managed to fit in sleep this week — “here and there,” White joked — amid going to the Closing Ceremony in Sochi on Sunday night, flying to Moscow overnight for a special skate in the Russian capital Monday and then to New York on Tuesday. They’re slated to get home to Detroit, finally, on Thursday.

“The last week, a little over a week now, has just been a whirlwind,” Davis said. “It’s an experience that we’re trying not to miss a moment of.”

It’s a different mindset than they took after winning Olympic silver four years ago.

“It was hard for us to not think ahead right away,” Davis said of 2010. “We need to do this, we need to do that to get to the next level. We’re in a different place at this point. We’re in the moment and the present as opposed to thinking ahead.”

In 2010, Davis and White competed in the World Championships one month after the Vancouver Olympics wrapped, taking their second straight silver to Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

They haven’t decided if they will compete in this year’s World Championships in Saitama, Japan, beginning March 28. They will talk that over after they get back to Michigan.

They’re already committed to the 20-city “Stars on Ice” tour starting April 4 in Fort Myers, Fla. There’s also been speculation about a “Dancing With the Stars” appearance, boosted by show mainstay Derek Hough helping choreograph Davis and White’s short dance.

“We would be so honored to be part of a show that has brought so much attention to dance and really opened up the culture in the U.S.,” White said.

The attention is on Davis and White for now. Some of their favorite words of wisdom on handling the golden life came from 1984 Olympic champion Scott Hamilton.

“His only advice was to enjoy the moment, soak it all in,” White said. “Our lives have changed forever.”

Davis and White were among the last U.S. Olympic champs to tour the Big Apple.

Alpine skiing slalom gold medalist Mikaela Shiffrin made her rounds on Monday before returning to Europe for the rest of the World Cup season.

Her highlight came on “The Tonight Show,” where she played a game of “Catchphrase,” teaming with actress Reese Witherspoon against host Jimmy Fallon and Usher.

***

Ted Ligety, who won giant slalom gold, went on “The Late Show” with David Letterman on Tuesday and discussed the snow conditions in Sochi as well as his future.

Ligety said he’s all in for the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, mentioning that he’s seven years younger than Bode Miller, who won a bronze medal in Sochi.

“As long as I’m having fun doing it, feel like I’m competitive, then I feel like I might as well do it,” Ligety said.

***

Perhaps slopestyle snowboarding gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg has all of them beaten, though. Take a look at this spot from Conan O’Brien.

The 14 best athletes at Sochi Olympics

Brian Orser reveals Hanyu’s, Medvedeva’s, and Brown’s Grand Prix plans

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Over the past decade, the Toronto club where Brian Orser coached South Korea’s Yuna Kim to the 2010 Olympic title has become such an attraction for top figure skaters from around the globe that it could add a word to a name that already is a mouthful.

You could call it the Toronto International Cricket Skating and Curling Club.

But its reach now is limited by the deadly virus pandemic that has effectively frozen out the elite athletes from Japan, Russia, South Korea and Poland who train at the Cricket Club.

That situation won’t change quickly, even with the International Skating Union having announced Monday its plans to proceed with a live format for the international Grand Prix Series. This fall, it will become a series of six essentially domestic competitions scheduled to begin with Skate America Oct. 23-25 in Las Vegas.

If they take place.

“As soon as the skaters can come back, it will be full steam ahead… to where, we don’t know,” Orser said via telephone Wednesday.

Two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu remains in Japan. Two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva is in Russia, four-time national champion Cha Jun-Hwan in South Korea, and two-time national champion Yekaterina Kurakova in Poland.

“We would like for them all to come back, but with the Canadian travel restrictions in place until at least Aug. 21, we can’t guarantee approval to get them in, and they would have a 14-day quarantine here if they do get in,” Tracy Wilson, who coaches with Orser, said via telephone Wednesday. “Right now, they are all training at home, and that’s OK.

“The situation is different for each one. The Japanese federation may need Yuzu to do the Grand Prix in Japan, and at this point he would face quarantine entering Canada and returning to Japan.

“For Yevgenia, as soon as she does the Russian test skates (scheduled for early September), we will re-evaluate her situation.”

Orser said he has been doing three video coaching sessions a week with Medvedeva, with whom he is in his third season as coach. Medvedeva, who left Russia for Canada after winning a silver medal at the 2018 Olympics, also is currently getting help from coach Elena Buyanova at the CSKA rink in Moscow.

“She (Medvedeva) looks way ahead of where she was at this point last year,” Orser said.

MORE: Looking back at Yuna Kim’s 10-year gold medal anniversary

Orser also has been having live remote sessions with Cha and Kurakova, and they are also sending videos to him. The only skater he has not seen is Hanyu.

“That’s normal when he is back in Japan,” Orser said. “I wasn’t expecting anything.”

How long Hanyu stays in Japan may depend on travel restrictions being loosened in both his homeland and Canada.

“I would like to get them all back, and they need to come back,” Orser said. “But facing a double quarantine is not in anyone’s best interest.”

Only two of the Cricket Club’s international skaters, 2014 Olympian Jason Brown of suburban Chicago and Yi Zhu of Los Angeles (who represents China), have come back to Toronto after leaving in late winter.

It took Brown two tries to get back across the border because of issues with the paperwork necessary for Canada to consider it essential he be allowed to enter. Orser and Wilson want to be sure any skaters coming from Asia and Europe are admitted on the first try.

From April to July, until skaters could get back on the ice in their various homelands, Brown led Thursday off-ice fitness classes via Zoom, with Medvedeva, Cha and Kurakova taking part.

“It was such a fun way to stay connected and still ‘train’ together while we were oceans apart,” Brown said in a Wednesday text message.

Orser and Wilson will recommend that all the foreign skaters training at the Cricket Club try to compete at Skate Canada, scheduled the last weekend of October at a 9,500-seat arena in Ottawa. Wilson thought if the event cannot have spectators, it might be moved to a smaller facility, possibly in a different city.

“All plans are in the early stages,” Skate Canada spokesperson Emma Bowie said in an email.

Grand Prix assignments have not yet been made.

Whether Brown picks Skate Canada over Skate America – if he gets a choice – could depend on when (and if) the Canadian government shortens quarantine periods for travelers from the United States.

“I know that we are in such unprecedented and uncertain times, so I love seeing the ISU being creative and trying to find a way to hold skating events this year,” Brown wrote. “While a lot can happen before October, if it’s safe to do so, I’ll be ready and eager to take part in any events that I can.”

The ISU said it wants to have the Grand Prix Final in Beijing, whether it takes place on its original dates (Dec. 10-13) or early in 2021. The competition is to be used as a test event of the skating venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

There are no details yet on qualification for the final, which usually is determined by points for placements at the six “regular season” events of the series, held in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Russia and Japan. The top six in each of the sport’s four disciplines make the Final.

In the past, the highest-ranked skaters could compete in up to two Grand Prix events, but ISU Vice-President Alexander Lakernik of Russia said in a Tuesday email that everyone would be limited to one event this year.

Because the Final presumably would have much more of an international field than the six other events, staging it is infinitely more problematic because of travel involved.

“We want what’s best for the sport,” Wilson said. “We have to get these kids out there doing programs, to get them on TV. [Note: An NBC spokesman said the network would, as planned, provide coverage of the Grand Prix, with details forthcoming.] In terms of competition, we’re up for anything.

“For me, though, with all the restrictions, there is no way they will be able to run a fair qualification for the Grand Prix Final. You’ve got to reinvent yourself and make it something else – if you are able to have it at all.”

Philip Hersh, who has covered figure skating at the last 11 Winter Olympics, is a special contributor to NBCSports.com/figure-skating.

MORE: Nathan Chen is surprised, grateful and posing questions about figure skating’s restart

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Steven Nyman, top U.S. downhiller, faces another obstacle

Steven Nyman
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Steven Nyman, the active U.S. leader in World Cup downhill wins, tore his right Achilles in a training crash and had surgery earlier this week in Mt. Hood, Ore.

“I am moving forward,” was posted on Nyman’s social media. “I’ve been through this before and have full intention to comeback [sic] and compete through the next Olympics.”

Nyman raced in three Olympics and owns three World Cup downhill victories.

He turns 40 during the next Winter Games in Beijing in 2022, when he will be three and a half years older than any previous U.S. Olympic Alpine skier.

Nyman missed the PyeongChang Olympics after a pair of major injuries: blowing out his left knee in a January 2017 downhill race crash and tearing his right ACL in downhill training in January 2018. He also tore his left Achilles in 2011.

He raced the last two seasons with a best World Cup finish of fifth in Val Gardena, Italy, site of all of his World Cup wins in 2006, 2012 and 2014.

The U.S. men’s program is in the midst of its longest World Cup downhill victory and podium droughts this millennium — none since Travis Ganong‘s win in Garmish-Partenkirchen, Germany, on Jan. 27, 2017.

MORE: Alpine skiing World Cup plans earlier season start with fewer fans

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