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In a journey that has spanned 17 years and thousands of miles, the mothers of Olympic ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White have formed a tight bond.
“I remember going to our first competition together, and we were just a couple of newbies sitting there knowing absolutely nothing,’’ Jacqui White told TODAY Tuesday. “You see the Olympics all your life. You just don’t dream you’ll be there watching your child. It’s just incredible. It’s an incredible experience.”
Jacqui and Cheryl Davis have been traveling to watch Charlie, 26, and Meryl, 27, in competitions across the world since their kids were eight years old. Affectionately known as “The Moms,’’ they have watched the pair become two-time world champions and gold medal favorites in Sochi.
“Like a lot of parents whose kids start competing when they’re young, our moms would go along with us,’’ Meryl Davis told TODAY. “They certainly weren’t willing to send their 11- and 12-year olds to foreign countries by themselves, but unlike a lot of parents, our moms continued to go to every competition since.”
Meryl was first paired with Charlie in the late 1990s when the two were just getting into ice dancing after having been individual figure skaters. They lived only 10 minutes apart in West Bloomfield, Mich.
“When his coach wanted to pair him up with a little partner, Meryl was actually the second partner he tried out with because the first little girl didn’t work out,’’ Jacqui White said. “She was too embarrassed to hold his hand.”
“I really didn’t know what ice dance was,’’ Meryl Davis said. “All I knew is that I was skating with a boy.”
They became a formidable team almost immediately, dominating junior competitions.
“She was such a great skater that within two days of training together, we were on the same level,’’ Charlie White said.
Their moms also helped with some fashion choices along the way.
“Charlie really preferred to wear black and nothing else. Just black,’’ Jacqui White said. “I said, ‘We have to put a little bit more on you Charlie. Do you want the stones or the ruffles?’ And he said, ‘I guess I'll go with the stones.’’’
“And then she stoned it so much it was like Liberace,’’ Cheryl Davis said.
From those humble beginnings, the two moms watched the pair grow into two-time world champions as well as silver medalists at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
“We were more nervous than they were in the Olympics,’’ Cheryl Davis said. “They just came off matter of fact, 'OK, see ya.' And then Jacqui said, ‘Should we be worried that they don’t look nervous?’’’
From local rinks in Michigan to the big stage in Sochi, Jacqui and Cheryl have been there every step of the way.
“I can't even imagine our lives, let alone our skating careers, without the support of our moms,’’ Meryl Davis said.
“Seeing our moms in the audience makes us feel like we have a little bit of home with us,’’ Charlie White said.