Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Olympics [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Davis, White hope Russian ties help in Sochi

By Bonnie D. Ford

Davis-White
Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

PARK CITY, Utah -- Any edge, no pun intended, could enter into the calculation as ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White pursue the Olympic gold medal that just eluded them four years ago.

Will setting their free dance to a famous piece by a Russian composer (Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherazade") under the guidance of a Russian coach they unabashedly call a genius help them connect with the crowd at the Sochi Games? If they put together the complete package, they said Tuesday at the Olympic media summit.

The duo said they toyed with using the piece a few years ago, but is glad they saved it for the ideal competitive moment. The music is a way of honoring Russian influence on dance in general and coach/choreographer Marina Zoueva's tutelage specifically, they said.

"It never hurts to have the support of the crowd ... at the end of the day, it's really about moving the audience, making that emotional impact," Davis said.

But in a development no one could have foreseen a decade or two ago when the Russians dominated the discipline, Davis and White will have to try to dethrone fellow North Americans for the title: their friends and rink-mates Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada. The tandems have gone 1-2 at the past four world championships, with Davis and White prevailing in the past two editions.

Davis and White say it wouldn't be "healthy" to focus on the Olympic gold medal itself, and manage to be convincing when they talk about refining their already superlative chemistry.

"When we won worlds in 2011, one of the things that helped us [defend] is that we didn't say, 'Let's continue at this level and expect the same results,"' White said. "Our expectations go beyond any given placement ... staying in character from beginning to end, and keeping everyone enthralled."

The short program could prompt a world-wide sing-along. It will be set to music from "My Fair Lady," including, naturally, "I Could Have Danced All Night."

"It's bubbly, light, elegant, fun," Davis said.

Davis and White joked easily about their snail's progress toward undergraduate degrees at the University of Michigan -- they've crawled past the start lines of their junior years and are taking this academic year off for obvious reasons. "Each passing year is bringing us closer to the Guinness Book of World Records [for tenure as students]," White said.

The refreshing thing about them is their obvious desire to keep learning on the ice after all this time.