'We've come a long way': Meryl Davis and Charlie White dish on 17 years as skating partners
If you didn’t already adore Olympic ice dancers Meryl Davis and Charlie White after catching one of their mesmerizing performances, you'll be totally won over after hearing the self-professed nerds poke fun at themselves and flash back to to their "awkward" past.
The six-time national champions, who have been skating together for 17 years, dished to TODAY about their quirks and laughed after being shown an old picture from their very early years.
"We've come a long way," White said of the throwback photo.
"It was so awkward trying to dance with someone like that," he added. "Even holding hands, it's the opposite of what you'd expect a little kid to be doing. We both really loved figure skating and ice dancing, so we made it work."
Davis remembers being so shy around White that someone used to put a sticker on his forehead so she could focus on something other than his eyes.
"Being in such close proximity to a member of the opposite sex at the age of 9 was a strange feeling for me. But he's always really fun and likes to joke around and have a good time," she said.
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Davis, 27, and White, 26, whose partnership has lasted longer than many marriages, won their sixth consecutive national championship last month and are now striving for Olympic gold. The pair can speak volumes to each other without saying a word.
“We know each other so well it's not always the verbal cues that mean the most,” Davis said from Sochi. “We've gone through so much together, and so many of our experiences have been so meaningful in terms of life in general.”
They also revealed a few things only they know about each other.
Davis, for example, is a huge J.R.R. Tolkien fan. “’Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Hobbit,’ she knows even more about it than I do,” White said.
“Maybe,” Davis acknowledged. “I think we’re about on par, the dork factor there. Charlie’s definitely more into Star Wars than I am.”
White 'fessed up to that one, noting: “We’re both kind of nerds. I think that’s the takeaway from this.”
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And they shared a few tidbits they’ve learned about each other over the years, such as a pre-competition ritual of Davis's — cracking her knuckles — that used to drive her partner crazy. “She used to have her hand in my hands, right before we’d skate she’d just crack her knuckle in my hand and just freak me out,” White said. Fortunately, she’s since broken the habit.
Asked about other bad habits, Davis offered up a minor complaint that only ended up making fun of herself. “I don’t know if it’s much of a vice, but Charlie is extremely quick-witted and it can get really annoying, because every time I get a joke, he’s always 10 minutes ahead of me,” she said from the Orange Room in Sochi.
And White said he sometimes finds Davis’ soft spot for animals annoying. “We’ll be really serious and having a serious conversation and then she’ll be on her phone, and just be like, ‘Actually, though, this is the dog that I really want to get,’” he said. “She loves the puppies.”
Quirks and all, the pair can't imagine what the past 17 years would have been like without each other.
"We've grown up together. We don't really know life without our partnership being a big part of it,” Davis said. “We feel really lucky."
Steve Veres contributed to this report.