The most successful partnerships find a way to manage the dynamics in play in all relationships — family, friends, work, school, marriage, book club, car mechanic — to achieve their goals. Over 13 years, that skill has been one of many that Meryl Davis, 23, and Charlie White, 22, have mastered in becoming the longest-running ice dance partnership in U.S. figure skating history. After a successful junior career, the Michigan natives have won the past two national championships and this year won the silver medal at the Olympics and at last week's world championships in Turin, Italy. "We're just very blessed to get along very well," Davis says. "We're hard workers. We have a lot of the same goals in life. … We're fortunate enough to just mesh really well on and off the ice." The two are touring with Stars on Ice, which is at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on Sunday, and took some time before they left for the world championships to talk with the St. Petersburg Times about their partnership, their first Olympic experience and life outside the rink.
What was the whole Olympic experience like for you two?
Davis: It was amazing. We went into the competition knowing that one of our major goals was not just the skating itself, but taking in the whole Olympic experience. I think that we did that. We really met a lot of people. We took in the venues. We took in the crowds. … It's something that we'll never forget. … Looking back at the pictures, it's hard to believe that it's over already.
Apart from your competition, what will you remember most about the Olympics?
White: For me, I'm a big fan of hockey. So staying in the (athletes) village was a really neat experience because all the world's best hockey players, specifically from the NHL, were eating in the cafeteria with us. So I was pretty starstruck, and I was able to meet some of them and get their autographs and take pictures with them. So that was very cool for me.
Was there a particular hockey player you wanted to meet or really enjoyed meeting?
White: We're from Detroit, so I'm a big fan of the Red Wings. So I made a point to say hi to the coach, Mike Babcock (Canada's coach), and (center) Henrik Zetterberg, (defenseman) Nicklas Lidstrom (who played for Sweden). … (Center) Valtteri Filppula was there for Finland. It was really amazing to get to meet them.
In the competition, are you two the kind who felt a magnified pressure, or are you really Zen about it?
White: Every competition is different. Sometimes, you're more nervous than others. Obviously, the Olympics are such a huge event. … There's certainly a lot of nerves involved. But I think Meryl and I were able to go in very, very confident. We were very, very well-trained. Our coaches had worked with us hard, and we had gone to all the (previous) competitions and done well. So we had a lot of confidence and momentum. And we were able to get out on the ice and know we were going to skate well, and therefore we were able to enjoy it.
How do you come off an experience like the Olympics and get back to your normal life?
Davis: It hasn't been easy. And it isn't just the fact that it was the Olympics. It was such a momentous occasion for us. It was also an extremely long experience (about three weeks) as opposed to our usual one-week-long competition. We really kind of adjusted to the lifestyle there, living in the village, being with athletes all day, every day, and eating with all these amazing people. So coming home was a little bit, um … (pause) … a little bit, (laughs) I don't want to say a little bit of a letdown. It was a little bit different. It was amazing to come home and see all of our family and friends who had supported us. … But yeah, living in the village and living that lifestyle … it was a little bit sad because you know it's not going to come around again next year.
Are you at a point where you can think about the Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 and prepare for it?
White: We're certainly the kind of people who take it one day at a time. And we love figure skating, and that love for it is certainly what makes us stand out on the ice. Hopefully, we'll be able to keep that up through 2014. It would be great to be able to go to another Olympics. We got such a kick out of representing our country and everything that goes along with the Olympic experience. We'd be really proud to be able to do it again.
Did you get a break of any kind after the Olympics?
Davis: Our schedule at the Olympics was actually really great for us. We had a week there to prepare. We competed for a week, and then we had a week once we were actually finished competing that was amazing that we could enjoy the Olympic experience in a different way once we didn't have to focus on the skating. … We just enjoyed the other events and meeting other people and things like that. And once we returned home, we just had a couple days before we had to get back to the ice because of worlds.
When do you guys get a vacation?
Davis: We will take some time off in June (after the Stars on Ice tour).
Where do you go when you go on vacation? Do you do winter things, or do you go to the beach?
White: Generally we like to go summery places (laughs). Because we're in the cold all the time … we really like to get out in the sun and enjoy warm weather.
To go back to your training, what is an average day for you two like?
Davis: Well, a normal day for us is getting up at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning, heading to the rink for a quick warmup and then hopping onto the ice for about four hours. And then, depending on the day, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday we head upstairs to work out. We do cardio and weightlifting and things like that. And then Tuesdays and Thursdays, we would go to our ballet studio. … And then usually if we're in school (they take classes at the University of Michigan), we'll head to campus and go to school for a couple hours, head home and do homework. And then start it all again the next day.
What are your fields of study at school?
Davis: Charlie is looking into law but undecided. I am an anthropology major and Italian minor.
What do you do to relax when you're off the ice?
Davis: Usually just kind of try to get as much rest as possible. … Kind of hang out with friends. Basically just normal things that most people would do after work, I think. We try not to exert ourselves too much off the ice because we do work so hard for so long. We want to stay in top shape for competing. We definitely have social lives, and we like to go out with friends.