Olympic champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White may be taking an extended break from competition, but the decorated ice dance duo is still traversing the world together. The 2014 Sochi gold medalists recently traveled to Beijing as part of Team Visa to promote a 2016 tourism initiative designed to promote travel between the US and China. During their visit, Davis and White led a group of American tourists to the Great Wall, where they enjoyed a champagne toast and took in the view. During a March 24 exclusive interview with Examiner, the pair revealed their favorite spot in China, what they expect from this year’s World Figure Skating Championships in Boston, and their top piece of advice for the newly minted “Dancing with the Stars” contestants.
Sherry Wight: Since we’re talking about China, what’s your favorite place to visit [there]?
Meryl Davis: We’re fortunate enough to [have visited] a couple different places…. We’ve been to Shanghai, to Beijing. I think getting the chance to tour different parts of the country is really important because you really get a different taste of the culture. I think our favorite place in China is probably the Great Wall. We’ve been a couple of times now, and there’s a reason it’s a wonder of the world. It really is just magnificent. To be standing at the top is a memory that we hope everyone gets to make at some point in their lives.
SW: It does sound awesome. Now, the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships start really soon. Which skaters or ice dancers have been, to you, the biggest pleasant surprises so far this season?
MD: I think we’re definitely partial to the ice dance event. It’s our passion. It’s something that we love. I think that the ice dancers have really been doing an amazing job the last couple years, not only internationally, but in particular our American skaters we’re always very proud of. Maia and Alex Shibutani are the new national champions and they’ve really stepped it up this year, and we have a couple of other incredibly strong American teams as well, so leading into the World Championships I think it’s going to be a really great competition.
SW: I’ve heard you so many times in recent history that you’re leaving the door to competition open. If you look at yourself six months ago as opposed to where you are right now, is that door wider open or closed more?
MD: That’s a tough question! That’s an interesting question that we haven’t actually been asked before. [Turns to Charlie] In terms of whether the door is wide open to return to competition, or if we might not be ready to go back… how do you feel about that?
Charlie White: It’s almost, for us, more of a mindset. It’s a tough call, right? We’ve had so much success and we’ve been through so much and recognize what it takes. We’ll leave the door open, but we still have some searching [to do] ourselves.
SW: That’s fair. Meryl, right after Sochi we saw you win “Dancing with the Stars.” What’s your best piece of advice for the 12 couples who just started?
MD: I would say just have fun. It’s such a different [and] unique experience and I think that one of the most amazing things about it is you’re getting to meet people from all different careers, different walks of life, so to be able to interact with [them], to learn from them, and hopefully form lasting relationships with them is one of the most rewarding things about it. So having fun and getting to know people on the show I think is the most important part.
SW: Of course Charlie was there, too. Charlie and Sharna [Burgess]! Same question.
CW: I think it was actually just learning how to properly ballroom dance. It’s a wonderful TV show, the production is amazing, but ice dancing is so similar to ballroom dance. It was really just a blast to really learn these very specific steps, from Latin to waltz to foxtrot. That was fun for me.
SW: One last question for Charlie. I know you married Tanith Belbin almost a year ago. Has anything about being married [surprised you]?
CW: [Laughs] Honestly, yeah. I think how little has changed in our relationship. Everyone was like ‘oh my god, you’re getting married! Everything’s going to change!’ Maybe it was because my wife and I had been together for almost seven years before we got married, but really, everything was pretty much the same.