The figure skating events are well underway at the 2018 Winter Games, but an American ice dancing champion is sitting this one out. After winning six straight national titles, two world titles and three medals at the 2014 Sochi Games, including one gold, Charlie White and his longtime skating partner Meryl Davis announced that they wouldn't be competing in the next Winter Olympics. So, what is Charlie White doing now? He's actually in PyeongChang, providing on-air commentary for the games for NBC Sports.
White told NBC Sports last year that, although it would be "a little bit disappointing" to sit out the games, he and Davis wouldn't be retiring from ice dancing altogether. And they haven't: After a stint on Dancing With The Stars one month after the 2014 Sochi Games, White and Davis returned to the cast of Stars on Ice, a touring figure skating exhibition that they'd previously performed with back in 2010.
In a 2017 interview with the Central Penn Parent, White said that being on the tour was a "fabulous experience." "All the skaters are so close, despite that fact that so many of us have competed against each other," White said. "We do feel like a family. And I think that translates well onto the ice."
In addition to performing in front of adoring fans across the nation, White has also taken up sports commentary. Before joining NBC's team of analysts at the PyeongChang games, White and Davis provided commentary for the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in 2015. In an article at the U.S. Olympics Committee's website, he said that he himself was surprised at how generous he was in his analyses of skaters' performances.
"Going into the event I wasn’t sure how critical I was going to be of the skating, but by the end I realized I’m a huge softie!," White wrote. "I think because I recognize just how difficult of a sport it is, I feel more comfortable emphasizing the positive aspects of every program as opposed to finding things to nitpick. On top of that, I always enjoy it more as a spectator when the commentators more or less stay out of the way."
Sports isn't the only thing White is commenting on these days. He's also drawn attention for the vocal political stances he's taken on Twitter — something of a rarity for Olympics athletes, most of whom generally remain apolitical in their public lives. But White, a political science student at the University of Michigan, has taken the opposite route, using his position as a high-profile Olympic athlete to draw attention to the political issues of the day.
Although one could broadly characterize White as anti-Trump, he strikes a more nuanced tone than many of the president's other detractors. White engages in earnest debates with President Trump's supporters, often opting for sincere questions over insults, and tends to strike a measured tone even when criticizing the president.
White explained his decision to be more political in a January 2017 tweet, which he authored just days before Trump was sworn in as the 45th president. First, he quoted a section from the U.S. Olympic Committee's webpage, which states that "Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy of effort, the educational value of good example, social responsibility and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles." White used this as a jumping-off point for his own mini-essay, in which he told his followers that "we have more than just the opportunity to shape the future, we have an obligation to do so."
"I'm not asking you to send money anywhere, nor to sign up for anything," White wrote. "All I ask is that you take time to consider what we can do to prove to the future historians that we pushed history in the right direction."