With Lindsey Vonn out of the Sochi Games, ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White are likely to take the torch from Michael Phelps as the most visible members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team.
Davis and White, ages 27 and 26, won their record sixth-consecutive national title this weekend in Boston, a number that had eluded five other teams in history, and will make their second Olympic appearance. Joining them in Sochi will be Madison Chock and Evan Bates, 21 and 24, and siblings Maia and Alex Shibutani, 19 and 22.
“We’re so lucky, this is a dream come true, capturing our sixth U.S. title we’re blessed to have this opportunity,” White said. “Obviously, we’re coming into these games with high expectations; we’ve had a lot of great moments in the last four years since the 2010 Games.”
None of the five other teams with five U.S. titles had international success like Davis and White. Winning the silver medal in Vancouver, they replicated Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto’s best-ever American result since the sport was introduced at Innsbruck in 1976. In 2011, they became the first U.S. team to win a world championship, and this past March won their second, upsetting Olympic gold medalist Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir on their home ice. This past year, Davis and White also won Four Continents, Skate America, the NHK Trophy, and the Grand Prix Final.
Bates finished 11th at the Vancouver Olympics with partner Emily Samuelson. In July 2011, he teamed with Chock, and last season, they finished third at Four Continents, seventh at the London World Championships, and third in both the Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup.
“I am so thrilled, we couldn’t be in better company,” said Chock, who is of Hawaiian and Chinese descent.
The Shibutanis have looked up to their training partners, Davis and White, on the podium at Nationals the past four years, with silver in 2011 and 2012 and bronze the recent two. They won the bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships in Moscow and were eighth at the past two in Nice and London. On the Grand Prix this fall, they were third in Skate America and in the NHK Trophy.
“For Maia and I, this has been the craziest and most amazing journey,” Alex Shibutani said. “Ten years ago, we started ice dancing, it’s a crazy sport and a crazy life. Moments like this, you don’t really think about it, I’m so happy.”