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Davis and White fired up for U.S. Championships

by Liz Leamy

World Champs Geared up for Golden Season as They Head Toward Sochi

Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning world dance titlists, seem as primed as ever to strike gold once again at the U.S. Championships in Boston next week as they head toward the Sochi Olympics in February.

The decorated duo, who train in Canton, Michigan with Marina Zueva and are five-time U.S. champions, would make American figure skating history if they score gold for a sixth time in Boston. (Currently, they hold the record of the most titles, five, along with five other teams, including Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, the 2006 U.S. Olympic silver medalists, Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev, Elisabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow, Judy Blumberg and Michael Seibert and Judy Schwomeyer and James Sladky.)

At the same time, an Olympic victory would put Davis and White in the history books as the first-ever U.S. team to clinch gold in this discipline at this celebrated event, which in turn, makes the next two months perhaps the most critical ever for this much-decorated ice dance duo.

Despite this pressure, Davis and White, the 2013 Grand Prix Final titlists, seem to be as grounded as ever, maintaining their priority right now is to just be a complete dance team.

“We have been fortunate to have an amazing career and we’re just relishing the opportunity to skate,” said Charlie White in a conference call last Friday. “We’ve been lucky to have this opportunity to win a sixth National Championship but right now we’re just focused on our ability to live in the moment and [to see] what we can do to improve our score.”

Davis and White also said they are focused on the whole process of training and competing.

“We’re feeling great and feel positive and strong,” said Davis. “We’re so pleased with the path we’re on.”

The duo is also frank about their desire to clinch gold.

“We’re looking to win,” said White. “We have to be as precise as possible and try to see where we could add points for the Grade of Execution (GOE).

The duo, who said they do not want to leave any stone unturned, have been working toward achieving a superior technical and artistic level by spending countless hours on the ice perfecting their speed, edges, turns steps and choreography.

“We’ve worked tirelessly with Marina and the coaches she’s brought in [this season],” said Davis. “We feel like we’ve left no stone unturned and that has given us a lot of pride.”

White, meanwhile, said the team feels they’ve been “working toward the right direction points wise and technical wise.”

Known for their fantastic edges, masterful, quick steps and turns, arresting lifts and innovative artistry, this team certainly knows how to get results. They clinched silver at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, are two-time World champions and two-time World silver medalists.

This season, they have been using ‘My Fair Lady’ by Frederic Lowe for their short and ‘Scheherazade’ by Nikoli Rimsky-Korsakov for their free dance, both programs which have been well received so far. Last fall, they were first at Skate America, the NHK Trophy and the Grand Prix Final.

At each of these events, the team was also consistently awarded level-three scores for their required elements by the International Skating Union technical panels and well as high GOE marks.

Going into the U.S. Championships, Davis and White seems as primed as ever to put out another stellar series of performances and have taken the proper measures to make sure that happens. Since December, they have been working on speed, charisma as well as pretty ‘everything’ in regard to their skating.

“Overall, we just try to be the best we possibly can be,” said White. “We really have sought to become a complete team.”

Meanwhile, with it being an Olympic season, Davis and White said they are in a different mindset this time in regard to the Sochi games as compared to Vancouver.

Back in 2010, Davis said she and White were in the role of hunters looking to land on the podium. (They wound up second to the Canadian champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, with who they train under Zueva in Canton.)

“Four years ago, Charlie and I were focused on being the number-one U.S. team,” said Davis. “”This time, our mentality has changed and we’re really [just] worried about ourselves and our skating more than ever.”

Asked what it’s like to train on a daily basis alongside their biggest rivals, with whom they have traded World Championship titles over the past four years, the team said the situation pushes them to be their best.

“I think we’re used to the idea of two teams pushing each other,” said Davis.

“I think this intense rivalry wants us [all] to achieve more.”

In order to insure they stay right on track, the team brought in Derek Hough, the talented ‘Dancing With the Stars’ celebrity, in order to help them raise their artistic bar.

‘Meryl and I certainly recognized how fortunate we are to have had this opportunity for his creativity and ability to move,” said White. “Just being able to get a feel for his zest was a great way to kick off choreography for the programs.”

The real pot of gold for this team, however, is that they have arrived at this amazing juncture at this point in their competitive career.

“It’s a true honor to be at the point we’re at,” said White.

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