Bloomfield native Charlie White tells SEEN about winning gold at the 2014 Olympics, his political science interests and his favorite Ann Arbor spots. (You may catch him at Zingerman’s!)
By Stephanie Steinberg
Featured photo by Allison Farrand
1. What do you consider your biggest accomplishments in your ice dancing career?
I never want to skip over winning the Olympics in Russia. To become the first American Olympic ice dance champions, we didn’t really think about it much while we were preparing for it. It was just something we put in the back of our heads because considering the accomplishment before you can accomplish it is really just a distraction. But being able to stand on the podium and recognize what that means for ice dance moving forward, and how much it meant for us to be able to see U.S. ice dancers have success, and build and build, and now to be the ones to break through that very, very top rung, it was awesome.
It’s hard to put into words, but it’s really cool, and watching even the growth of ice dancing as a sport in the country, it’s just exploded. And again, to have played a part in that from the Olympics — and because of everything that we’ve put in and all the sacrifices that we made and our families made and our coaches made — that was really cool. But there are other great memories too.
2. Having skated with each other since you were 8 and 9 years old, how would you describe your partner Meryl Davis?
I would say Meryl is a very focused and self-motivated person. She’s always been a great friend and will continue to do amazing things in her life and for her community because of her caring nature and determination.
3. How did you celebrate being the first American ice dancer to win gold at the Olympics?
I celebrated with my family! I’ve always felt fortunate to have a great family supporting me for my entire career, not just in skating but in everything. And because so much of the success that I’ve had is due to my family, it only felt right to celebrate such a historic moment by spending time with them.
4. What do you listen to before going out on the ice? Do you have a pre-skate ritual?
I never really used music to get motivated, and I always made a point to not fall into any particular ritual at competition. A lot of times people rely on their rituals to help calm their nerves, but if they forget and something goes wrong, then it can rattle their confidence even more. So I always thought, if the hard work I’ve put in in practice wasn’t enough for a successful competition, then it isn’t worth relying on something as fickle as a pre-game ritual.
5. What do you typically eat before a big competition or ice dancing show?
Before any competition I made sure to eat simple good foods. You want energy for your body without any other side effects, and as you get older that becomes more and more important for how you feel when you’re competing. So I made it a real priority to not get carried away with anything too heavy or fancy.
6. Who’s been a role model in your career or life in general?
As I said before, I’m incredibly lucky to have the family that I do. In that vein, I would say my greatest role models are my parents. From their life philosophies, to their work ethics and senses of humor, they’re everything you could want in a role model.
7. You and Meryl are co-chairing the U.S. Figure Skating Championships coming to Detroit this January. What should we know about it?
The U.S. Figure Skating Championships are the greatest skating competition that will be held in the U.S. all year. Many of the Olympians from last year, and many of the Olympians that will be representing the U.S. at the 2022 Olympics, will be there skating their hearts out. Metro Detroit has always been a huge skating hub in the U.S., and I expect it will be an exciting and well attended event!
8. You were a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” right after winning the Olympics in 2014. How does ballroom dancing compare to ice dancing? What was your favorite ballroom dance?
With skating, so much of what you can do stems from the momentum you generate as you move across the ice. In ballroom, I was always confused what step was up next, because after any step you can then step in any direction with either foot! But I absolutely loved learning it! My favorite dance was probably the quickstep because it felt the most athletic.
9. If you could ice dance with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
I think it would have been cool if Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers had been able to ice dance. They had so much personality in their dancing — something we were always inspired by.
10. You’re about to obtain a degree in political science from the University of Michigan. How do you plan to use your degree in the future?
That’s a great question. I’m not sure the best way to put my future degree to use. But I do think it’s important that people from all backgrounds use their lives to help enrich our somewhat lacking political culture. If I could at all help in that, it would be a real honor.
11. Favorite quote or words to live by?
Perfection isn’t about winning, it’s about your integrity, and relationship with yourself, your friends, and your family.
On to your style…
12. Your favorite ice dancing outfit of all time — what did it look like?
I think my favorite outfit was the outfit I wore for “Scheherazade” free dance when we won the Olympics. It was just the right color and design to help bring the character to life without being too much, which is often a problem we run into in the world of ice dancing.
13. Three words to describe your style off the ice?
Simple, comfortable and preppy.
14. Favorite local clothing shop?
The M Den! Go Blue.
15. One item you can’t leave home without?
Your Local Love List…
16. Your favorite spot on University of Michigan’s campus?
The Diag or the Big House.
17. Your go-tos for breakfast, lunch and dinner?
Breakfast: Afternoon Delight
Lunch: Zingerman’s Deli
Dinner: Slurping Turtle
All in Ann Arbor.
18. Favorite local coffee shop? And what do you order?
Songbird Cafe. And always a vanilla latte!
19. Favorite local spot to walk or take your dogs?
The Arb can’t be beat. (Gallup Park is a close second though.)
20. Favorite place to ice skate in Michigan?
I was lucky enough to be able to compete and skate at Joe Louis Arena. But Little Caesars Arena is just amazing.
Bonus: When you’re not ice skating, where can we find you?
At home spending as much time with my wife and son as possible!
Read more about Charlie White and Meryl Davis in SEEN’s October sports issue!