|Sochi 2014: Who to watch|
|Wednesday, January 29, 2014 9:00 PM|
Meryl Davis & Charlie White
An accomplished pair, Meryl Davis and Charlie White have a lot to look forward to at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games. After winning the silver medal in Vancouver, Davis and White need to bring their best efforts to Sochi if they want to dethrone one of the top ice dancing teams in the world, Canada’s Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue. No strangers to the podium, Davis and White have earned top honors in practically every major ice dancing competition, and have won 15 consecutive Grand Prix gold medals. Now they have their sights set on the prize that shines the brightest as they head to their second Olympic Games.
The pair has been skating together since they were both 10 years old, making them the current longest-lasting dance team in the United States.
The team employs two choreographers: Marina Zueva and Derek Hough, the latter an Emmy winner who is best known for his routines on ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars.”
Coach Marina Zueva is based out of their home state of Michigan, and also coaches their biggest competitors and reigning Olympic champs Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue.
They both currently study at the University of Michigan, White in political science and Davis in cultural anthropology and Italian.
Not only does skating come naturally to the pair, they’re also talented musicians. Davis plays the flute and White plays the violin.
The two have skated together for almost 17 years now, and their families have grown very close. The dancers will often say “Hi Moms!” to greet both their mothers simultaneously.
Men’s Singles Luge
There is a changing of the guard happening in American luging, and Chris Mazdzer is the up-and-comer. After Bengt Walden and Tony Benshoof both retired in 2011, Mazdzer is the only male luger who has stood on the Olympic stage. Finishing 13th in Vancouver in his Olympic debut, he looks ready to do what no man in singles luge has ever done for the United States: win a medal. He’s no stranger to the track, but he does have some serious competition and will need to be focused and prepared if he’s going to give the U.S. a shot at the podium in Sochi.
He was a high school senior when he just missed making the U.S. Olympic team in 2006, losing a best-two-out-of-three race against his roommate Jonathan Myles.
When he’s not training or competing, he enjoys watching TV – especially “Family Guy.”
In high school, he tried to branch out into other sports, but that was practically a disaster. In the first 15 seconds of his first-ever lacrosse game, he received penalties for slashing and illegal substitution because he wasn’t familiar with the rules.
In his early years of sledding, he was coached by former luger and three-time Olympian Duncan Kennedy.
He was competing in the Junior World Cup circuit at the age of 13 against 18- and 19-year-olds.
Ladies’ Figure Skating
Gracie Gold wants to make good on her name when she travels to Sochi. The 18-year-old figure skater is relatively new to the world of glitzy outfits and the big stage, but she continues to grow exponentially with each competition. The 2014 U.S. National gold medalist recently started working with renowned coach Frank Carroll, whose most recognizable students are 2010 Olympic champion Evan Lysacek and two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan. The change has provided a positive spark for the blonde-haired, red-lipped Gold, whose potential is unlimited as she heads to Sochi.
She has a fraternal twin sister named Carly who is 40 minutes younger than her. Carly is also a competitive figure skater.
She has landed an endorsement deal from CoverGirl, which is fitting for her as she always wears her token red lipstick during her performances.
Her favorite series of books is “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.
Growing up, she tried many different sports, including swimming and gymnastics, but ultimately settled on figure skating because of the opportunity to push herself and learn something new each day.
She has a dog and a cat at home – a mastiff named Stella and a hairless cat named Rex.
She has a huge social media presence with more than 11,000 followers on Instagram and over 13,000 followers on Twitter.
Men’s Figure Skating
Twenty-eight-year-old Jeremy Abbott will be lacing up his skates for his second Olympics when he heads to Sochi. The four-time U.S. national champion and 2008 Grand Prix Final champion placed ninth at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and he has a good chance of moving up in the standings. With reigning Olympic champion Evan Lysacek sidelined from the competition due to injury, Abbott becomes the United States’ best hope for a men’s figure skating medal. The opportunity to become one of the best is there for the taking, and Abbott is capable of doing just that.
Practically as soon as he could walk, he was on skates. He began skating at the age of two, and by four he was already competing.
He says seeing retired Olympic champion Robin Cousins skating on television is what encouraged him to start taking figure skating lessons.
For about six years as a child he tried gymnastics as well as figure skating, but ultimately ended that experiment.
He’s definitely a family man, often giving credit to his parents, his stepdad and his sister for his success.
A man of many talents, he can also ride a unicycle.
He’s still a big fan of British figure skating sensation Robin Cousins, who is currently one of his choreographers.