Kwan: Meryl Davis and Charlie White improve on greatness
How do you perfect perfection?
Meryl Davis and Charlie White are doing just that at the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating championships.
The ice dance duo went out for their short dance performance Friday and skated with such ease and exhibited so much fun. Instead of succumbing to the pressure being heaped upon them as USA’s best hopes for a medal in figure skating, they are going out and enjoying their performance.
The results showed as they set a new personal best in points — 80.69 — to finish first overall heading into the free skate finale Saturday as they seek their record sixth national championship. That total is almost 7 points higher than second-place Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
It’s hard to imagine the position Davis and White are in. While others are fighting it out for an Olympic position, they are so confident in their performance that they are now fine tuning what is already their best.
Considering they are the defending two-time World and five-time National champions, their best is already pretty good compared to the rest of the world’s.
"I think today we kind of reached a comfort level with this program that we haven’t necessarily achieved in competition so far," Davis said. "I think we’ve been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for the technical aspects. And I think we’ve finally reached a comfort level where we can really focus on just having fun with the program.
"This is the fifth time we’re competing the program. With this program, it’s all about being comfortable enough to let things happen naturally and when you reach a point where it can be just fun, that’s what we really enjoy about skating."
I loved when Meryl said that: When you can get out on the ice at a major event with such high expectations (yours and everybody else’s) and yet be able to let loose and have fun. I’ve had the same feeling competing before, and this is what athletes refer to as the mythical “zone” where everything that you have trained for hundreds and thousands of times falls perfectly into place and you can stop worrying about mistakes and enjoy the performance.
For Meryl and Charlie, they are just soaking it all in, looking over all the little details to ensure nothing can go wrong. It’s nice to see athletes when they have reached that level of accuracy and excellence. You don’t see that very often.
Meryl was asked about the joy that was so evident on her face during her skate. You could tell that it reflected her mood and was not a choreographed element in the program. Even after hearing their short program music — "My Fair Lady" — for the zillionth time, you can sense that they still love it, and every arm movement and facial expression was organic and natural.
What makes perfection is practice. They’ve trained each step hundreds of thousands of times either on the ice or mentally away from the rink. At the level they are skating right now, I imagine they are visualizing their twizzles, footwork and steps 24/7.
After Friday, Meryl and Charlie feel as if they have finally reached a new level in their performance. As hard as it is to believe, I feel the best is yet to come.
Michelle Kwan is the most decorated figure skater in U.S. history, winning an unprecedented 43 championships, including five World Championships, eight consecutive and nine overall U.S. National Championships and two Olympic medals. Her unique commentary and interviews highlight her contributions to FOX Sports’ coverage of the 2014 Sochi Games.