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.
“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.”
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?'”