SOCHI — The United States has won its first-ever Olympic gold medal in ice dancing, which joined the figure skating program in 1976.
Americans Meryl Davis and Charlie White, the reigning world champions, finally fulfilled their Olympic dream, winning a gold medal after skating together for 17 years - before they were even teenagers.
Davis said it was a sweet victory after winning the silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics four years ago - not to mention everything else they have been through together.
"You know, I wasn't only a young partner, but I was a young girl when I first started skating with Charlie, and we've grown up together in every sense of the word, and I'm just so grateful that we've gone on to do it together," she said.
White said they believed they had what it took to win the gold in Sochi.
"Physically and mentally we were ready. And I always say when people ask me 'why are you so tired, don't you train hard?' The more in shape I am, the harder I can push myself, and the harder we can push ourselves and I think that was reflected in the scores," he said.
After having scored a world record in the short program Sunday night with 78.89 points, Davis and White also had the highest score in the free dance Monday night. Their total of 195.52 points was nearly five points better than Canadians Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir who were gold medalists on home ice in 2010.
The home crowd got to see Russians Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov win the bronze. Couples from Russia or the former Soviet Union have finished on the ice dance podium at every Olympics dating back to the event's introduction in 1976.
White and Davis skated their free dance to Russian classical music. White said it reflected how they have become a complete team, which includes their Russian-born coach, Marina Zoueva.
"First of all, the music and the story of Scheherazade are something that we connect with and have been in love with for a long time," White said. "It was a process of being able to embody those characters and the music and be bigger than the music and not let it overcome us. It's taken the last four years of day in and day out practice and working with Marina and having her show us the way."
Zoueva said it was a good idea to have the Americans skate to Russian music.
"For me it made a lot of sense because I believed it would be special for Russia," she said. "I chose a Russian composer. I chose a Russian story for each program, and I really wanted to show this is what Meryl and Charlie's program could show the Russian audience. And I just wanted to touch the hearts of the Russian people."
Zoueva also coaches the Canadian silver medalists Virtue and Moir, who have trained together with Davis and White for a number of years in the U.S. city of Detroit. They are good friends and acknowledge they've pushed one another to take the sport of ice dancing to another level.