Meryl Davis, Charlie White

Meryl Davis, Charlie White look to uncertain future in ice dancing

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NEW YORK — Meryl Davis and Charlie White recently performed at a figure skating show in Japan. An International Skating Union official they’ve known for years approached them.

“You’re bringing so much more to the ice now after ‘Dancing with the Stars,'” the official said. “You have to come back.”

Davis and White have not skated competitively since winning the first U.S. Olympic ice dance gold medal in Sochi on Feb. 17.

“I think we both felt it soon after we were done competing at the Olympics,” White said at the chilly opening of The Rink at Rockefeller Center on Monday morning. “We were both planning on competing at the World Championships [in March in Saitama, Japan], but as soon as we were done, that was everything we had. That was the perfect way to end the season.”

They pulled out of the World Championships one week after the Olympic Closing Ceremony. A day later, it was announced they would go on “Dancing with the Stars,” where White finished fourth and Davis won.

Then, on June 6, the kids who grew up 10 minutes apart and had skated together for some 17 years announced they wouldn’t compete at all the upcoming season. Maybe never again.

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“There was the flurry of media and we did all the stuff,” White said Monday. “As it went on, we were so tired and exhausted. It was really easy for us to just be like, it wouldn’t make any sense for us to compete next year. We really need to just regroup and figure out if that’s moving toward what we even want to do.”

White is training his new puppy, Finnegan — “Finn” — and helping set up his wedding with 2006 Olympic ice dance silver medalist Tanith Belbin. Davis is back in school, taking University of Michigan online classes.

Davis and White will skate together in shows this fall and grand marshal a Detroit Thanksgiving Day parade. They won’t discuss a possible competitive future until the spring.

White conceded taking a break and returning to ice dance would be easier than, say, singles skating.

“That’s not to say it would be easy,” White said. “If you want to be a top man [singles skater], you really need to be able to do a quad. To lose the timing of a quad jump is to lose all hope [laughs]. For us, there are a lot of moves that are important and require daily training. It’s not quite to the nth degree. The areas in ice dance that you can actually improve not by competing but by experiencing other things are palpable and would show up in the scores.”

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Davis and White said they would never skate with different partners (unlike two-time Olympic teammate Evan Bates, who competed in Vancouver with Emily Samuelson and Sochi with Madison Chock.)

“Definitely not,” Davis said. “Not a chance. … I can’t even fathom.”

“That would never go well,” White said. “Everything that makes us good skaters is entirely reliant on the other person. We’re symbiotic.”

Davis and White have thought about how long they will be dancing on ice in non-competitive shows together. British 1984 Olympic ice dance champions Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean were still touring last spring.

“I think there’s probably a point of no return,” White said, laughing. “Once our bodies aren’t able to do the things that we’re used to being able to do, I think it would be so disappointing, I wouldn’t necessarily want to try.”

Davis was more succinct.

“If your question is, will we be performing at 40, the answer is no,” said Davis, who is 27 (White is 26).

Davis and White said they’ve met Dean but haven’t discussed the facets of gold medal-worthy ice dancing.

“They’re such icons in England, I feel like there would be a revolt if they stopped skating,” White said. “They’re such legends. They’re untouchable. You don’t, like, text Christopher Dean, ‘Hey what’d you think of my performance?'”

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Meryl Davis, Charlie White, Kimmie Meissner, Casey entering skating Hall of Fame

Meryl Davis, Charlie White
AP
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GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — As they enter the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame, Meryl Davis and Charlie White ponder just who they are joining in receiving one of the highest honors in their sport.

“One of the things that makes it so special is we are friends with and respect so much so many previous people who have gone into the Hall of Fame,” Davis said before the induction ceremony Saturday. “Scott Hamilton, Kristi Yamguchi, Brian Boitano — people we look up to and now we are in their company.”

As are 2006 world champion Kimmie Meissner and the late Kathy Casey, one of American figure skating’s most successful coaches.

Davis and White, along with training partners and friends Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, were at the forefront of bringing ice dance to previously unreachable heights for Americans. Once the abyss of the sport, Americans now tend to populate podiums in international competitions.

In 2010 at the Vancouver Olympics, Davis and White followed Belbin and Agosto four years earlier as silver medalists. At the Sochi Games in 2014, they edged Canada’s Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the 2010 champions, for the gold.

Davis and White won every U.S. title from 2009-14, plus two world crowns.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

But Davis and White were — and are — about so much more than their on-ice performances. He now coaches and she has been instrumental in the startup and development of Figure Skating in Detroit, an offshoot of the inner city Figure Skating in Harlem program that has been a rousing success in New York City.

“When we were young skaters and took the lay of the land of the sport,” White said, “we thought about becoming leaders of the sport. We recognized we would have a role as we were ascending and we felt it was a real responsibility. Be thoughtful and considerate with anyone you deal with. We tried to let our skating do the talking as competitors, but we wanted the way we conducted ourselves off the ice to be professional and helpful to the sport.

“We have felt the responsibility because of everything skating has given to us to give back responsibly and, in the end, to always be grateful.”

Meissner, still one of the few American women to master the triple Axel, also is one of those rare athletes to be a champion on all level. She won novice, junior and senior U.S. titles.

Her performance at age 16 at Calgary worlds soon after finishing sixth at the Turin Olympics as the youngest U.S. athlete not only was a highlight of her career but of any world championships.

“I was ready for that moment,” said Meissner, who also coaches and is in school to become a physician’s assistant. “I had been practicing that way pretty much before the Olympics. It was nerves at the Olympics and I was happy to salvage what I did.

“At worlds, I was not shocked at all that I skated clean at a time when it really needs to happen.”

Casey, who died in September, spent more than 50 years in the sport. She helped advance the biomechanical studies of jumps and was expert at helping skaters correct technical aspects of their performances. In 2005, she was the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Sports Science Coach of the Year.

The official U.S. coach at three Olympics, Casey coached two-time U.S. champion Scott Davis (1993-94). She was the Professional Skaters Association president from 1989 to 1994, was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2008.

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MORE: Nathan Chen leads men’s short program, followed by world team battle

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.

Nathan Chen leads U.S. Figure Skating Championships, followed by world team battle

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Nathan Chen broke his own U.S. Figure Skating Championships short program scoring record, hitting two quadruple jumps en route to a whopping 13.14-point lead on Saturday.

Chen, trying to become the first man to win four straight national titles since Brian Boitano in 1988, tallied 114.13 points. Jason Brown, the 2015 U.S. champion, is in second after beating Chen in artistic marks but lacking a quad. Andrew Torgashev is the surprise third-place skater going into Sunday’s free skate.

Chen hit a quad flip, triple Axel and a quad toe-triple toe combination in Greensboro, N.C., on limited practice due to a recent flu.

“I’m thrilled with it,” Chen, a Yale sophomore, said on NBC. “This was probably the least prepared I’ve been, but I really made good use of the last week, the week that I was able to actually start getting training in.”

Nationals continue later Saturday with the pairs’ free skate and the free dance, live on NBC Sports. A full TV and live stream schedule is here.

NATIONALS: TV Schedule | Full Results

How substantial is Chen’s lead? No other skater, pair or dance couple has led a U.S. Championships by double digits after a short program since the Code of Points was instituted in 2006. Chen has now done it three times in the last four years.

Chen, undefeated since placing fifth at the PyeongChang Olympics, is all but assured to lead the three-man world championships team. Who will join him is what will be determined Sunday.

Brown is in strong position to go to a fourth world championships in Montreal in March. He was clean on his three jumping passes, though the only man in the top five without a quad. Brown is the second-ranked U.S. man overall this season, coming back from a late August concussion when his Uber ran a red light, T-boned another car, then swung sideways and hit the car a second time.

“The season has been such a struggle,” Brown said. “To work through each setback and to be able to put up a performance like that, that I’ve worked so hard to do, that’s where the emotion came from.”

Torgashev, who won the 2015 U.S. junior title at age 13, made his case with a clean short featuring a quad toe. Torgashev’s best senior nationals finish in three starts was seventh last year. He is the son of two world junior medalists from the Soviet Union.

Vincent Zhou, the 2019 World bronze medalist, has twice finished second to Chen at nationals. He was strong on Saturday considering his turbulent season, placing fourth with a quad Salchow.

Zhou attempted to match Chen last fall by balancing Ivy League classes with training. It didn’t work, and he went the entire autumn without committed skating. He decided to take a break from Brown University and move to Toronto to train under a new coach, Lee Barkell.

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MORE: Adam Rippon takes pleasure in new role — coaching U.S. silver medalist

As a reminder, you can watch the events from the 2019-20 figure skating season live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season. NBC Sports Gold gives subscribers an unprecedented level of access on more platforms and devices than ever before.