Olympians Meryl Davis and Charlie White Talk Family and Friendship
It’s been a busy year thus far for Olympic figure skating pair Meryl Davis and Charlie White, who have competed in Sochi and on Dancing with the Stars. “This has been an amazing time for us. What’s been so great about it has been our ability to just live in the moment and enjoy what we’re doing,” said White, describing his year, which seems to keep getting better and better. Since speaking with Parents.com, White got engaged to girlfriend and former Olympic ice dancer Tanith Belbin!
Here, the two athletes discuss their role as Puffs SoftPack ambassadors, lessons they learned from their parents, and how they’ve been able to stay friends over the past 17 years.
P: How did you establish a partnership with Puffs SoftPack and what do you like about the brand?
MD: One of the things that we love most about P&G and Puffs is that it’s so family-oriented. Charlie and I are incredibly close with our families, and we love the ambiance of the whole company and how welcoming they are to both Olympians and their families and how supportive they are, so that’s really important to us. We also just believe in the product. We’re working with Puffs with their release of their SoftPack tissue, and we are excited about it as people who are on the road often. It’s the same great Puffs tissue that we use all the time—especially as skaters in the cold environment on the ice—but it’s so convenient now. It’s flexible, and it’s easy to transport with us, whether it’s in our skating bag or our suitcases, so we’re really excited about this new product.
P: Mother’s Day just occurred and Father’s Day is this weekend. What lessons have you learned from your parents?
MD: We’re blessed to have two of the most amazing sets of parents. It’s really cool because our parents are all very different, and yet they all have a very similar philosophy on raising their kids, and that’s definitely worked to our advantage in being a team. Respect, we always say, is one of the most amazing and useful things that we’ve learned from our parents, especially in our career and our partnership together. Respect for each other, respect for yourself, respect for the people around you, and for us that’s really been a key thing for the last 17 years.
P: How did your parents react when you began to skate and compete? What advice do you have for parents of child athletes—even those who aren’t at your level of competition?
CW: What was so great about our parents was their complete ignorance of the sport. My dad was a sailor, my mom rode horses growing up; they really were not figure skaters, competitively, especially. All they knew was that we loved to skate and that was our passion, so they wanted us to be able to have the opportunity to chase our passion as long we were passionate about it. I think what really set them apart is we could’ve retired right after winning a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics, where potentially we had a very bright future—if that was what we wanted, they would’ve been happy for us, and that was their philosophy for our entire skating career. I think in a lot of ways that separates them from a lot of parents, who want to see their kid succeed but have a tendency to push them into something that maybe they’re not comfortable with or that they’re not interested in doing. I think we’re going to be forever grateful for having our parents give us all the opportunities that we needed, because when you have those opportunities, that’s when you find your inner strength and want to work hard and want to be your best….When we’re standing up there, the National Anthem’s playing, and we’re receiving our gold medals, that’s what we think of. We reminisce on all the times when they had to make sacrifices so that we could become good figure skaters, and it is a lot of sacrifice, especially on the part of a parent.
P: What has helped you stay friends and partners over the years?
MD: I think it’s attributable to a number of things. First and foremost, we learned respect at an early age, and that’s played a huge role in how we relate to one another. Also just to be completely realistic, I think we are just incredibly fortunate to have been paired together at an early age. We grew up down the street from one another, we grew up with incredibly supportive parents who were able to help us really go after our dreams, so while a lot of our success is attributable to things that we were able to do, I think it also was just a little bit of fortune on our side, in terms of getting paired together, being well-matched physically throughout our 17 years so far together, and just having personalities that really work well together.
P: Other than skating, what activities did you enjoy while growing up?
CW: I grew up playing hockey, I played the violin, I played soccer, I was very active, but I also loved video games, I loved TV. I think both of us actually just had a really nice balance. We both learned to love learning and school, and I think somehow our parents were able to make everything fun….But we did a little bit of everything growing up, we certainly weren’t just focused on figure skating. We learned to love the outdoors and spending time with our family.
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