The United States took home nine gold medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including the top honor in Ice Dancing awarded to Meryl Davis and Charlie White. An Olympic event since 1976, Ice Dancing is an event that combines elements of figure skating and ballroom dancing. Elements that make Ice Dancing stand out from the seemingly similar Pairs Skating competition are the lack of throws and jumps, the importance of staying in a close dance hold, and a different emphasis on the beat of the music rather than melody.
Likely key to their success, Davis and White have been skating together since 1997, when they were just ages eight and nine. Both originally from Michigan and currently students at the University of Michigan, the pair took second at the Junior Olympics during their first year together, and have won numerous awards in the almost two decades since culminating in the top prize in their sport with the Olympic Gold.
Meryl and Charlie brought a new appreciation to their sport after the 2014 Olympics. Ice Dancing has often been mocked and had its legitimacy as a sport questioned, but the popularity of the reigning champions and the thrill of watching their Olympic glory seems to be convincing many of Ice Dancing’s rightful place on the international sporting stage. The popularity of dancing competition shows like Dancing With the Stars may also be a part of the new appeal of Ice Dancing. In fact, Davis and White sought guidance and choreography help from DWTS’s Derek Hough.
Following their Olympic win, Davis and White seem to be capitalizing on their enormous popularity and, perhaps with the goal of continuing to showcase Ice Dancing in a positive light, have signed on to compete on Season 18 of Dancing With the Stars. After 17 years of dancing together, though, the pair will be split up on the reality competition and will instead be going head to head. Many past celebrities have entered the competition with at least some dancing training or experience, though rarely in the field of ballroom, but some suggest it is particularly unfair for non-dancer celebs to compete against gold medalists Meryl and Charlie. Even those who protest the fairness, though, seem to be enthusiastic at watching these two champions – with their combination of athletic strength and graceful artistry – on their television screens each week.