When it comes to the dazzling world of ice dancing two of the most well-known competitors in recent memory stick out. Meryl Davis and Charlie White have been leaving their audiences breathless since 1997, but they're not competing during this year's 2018 PyeongChang Games. So what happened to Davis and White? It's not that they're retiring.
The duo just wanted to take a break from the demanding lifestyle of professional ice dancing (while they sit out these games, White is doing commentary for NBC during the Olympics). According to White, who spoke with NBC Sports, the move to sit out these games still feels a little strange. "It's still really weird to say that out loud," he said, adding, "I’m not really sure what tone to use. It’s not like we’re celebrating it. It’s a little bit disappointing, but at the same time, it’s nice to finally come to a decision."
The decision to sit out the Winter Olympics wasn't a sudden one either. The pair told NBC Sports that they had been mulling over it since the 2014 Sochi Games, where they won a gold medal in ice dancing and almost led the judges to believe they were actually a couple. "Since Sochi, we’ve been giving it a lot of thought, a lot of time. It always felt like the right direction to be moving in," Davis said.
While speaking with Sports Illustrated in October, the pair got into the details of their plans, what makes ice dancing different from figure skating, why they're choosing to watch the sport from the sidelines, what kind of diet they stuck to while training, and what's next on their agenda. For those who may not know, ice dancing is a seemingly fancier, yet equally exhausting and intense discipline of pairs skating.
"Most people confuse pair skating and ice dancing but ice dancing is much more, 'Dancing With the Stars' on ice, more of a ballroom feel. The connection between the partners is much closer as well and the technical elements we do are less explosive," White said. Athletes have to be able to "tell a story" while keeping an elegant "connection between the partners and the music."
The duo briefly touched on their reason for choosing to bow out of the world of ice dancing in that interview. "We still have a passion for the sport and we don't take the opportunity lightly to be able to do what we love for a living, but we don't want to put ourselves through the stress and work of another competition," Davis explained. Training for ice dancing can be "brutal" on the body, according to a Houston Chronicle report.
While fans may miss seeing Davis and White in the icing rink, they can keep up on their future plans. They both plan to help high-need classrooms with lessons in ice dancing. "We've also been involved in an organization called Classroom Champions since 2010, which we're really passionate about. Essentially the program pairs athletes with high need classrooms and we record videos once a month that is sent to our teachers and classrooms," Davis told Sports Illustrated.
With the help of Classroom Champions, schools will get the opportunity to plan lessons for their aspiring students like "goal setting, perseverance, community, [and] healthy living." So while Davis and White may no longer be impressing their national and international audiences with their moves on the ice, they certainly will be winning hearts - especially young ones - across the country with their guidance.