SOCHI, Russia — Through 17 years of grueling practices, of defeats and victories, Meryl Davis and Charlie White insist they’ve never considered parting ways.
A perfect pairing, they were nearly flawless at the Sochi Olympics, and on Monday they became the first Americans to win an ice dance gold medal.
“The closest we came to breaking up, I can’t pinpoint one because there hasn’t been one,” Davis, 27, said. “Certainly there have been struggles. It hasn’t been easy to get where we are. ... It’s a partnership which I couldn’t have asked for more.
“Charlie and I are very different. We used those difference to balance it out. There has never been a moment of doubt.”
Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, the 2010 champions, took silver, while bronze went to Russia’s Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov.
Davis and White won silver in Vancouver, but in the four years since they have overtaken the Canadians, their training partners in Detroit under Russian coach Marina Zoueva.
The reigning world champs scored 116.63 points in the free dance to finish with 195.52, 4.53 ahead of Virtue and Moir.
“No athletes like it to sit in this position,” Moir said. “We came here to win the competition. But it’s easier when we see them and know how hard these guys work.”
When their program to “Sheherazade” ended with White on a knee, Davis rested her head on his back in exhausted elation. The two started skating together in 1997 in Michigan, and on the biggest day of their career, they performed just as they had visualized it.
“That in itself justified 17 years of hard work,” White, 26, said.
The music swelling over the final minute of the program, their feet were in nonstop motion, yet every step was intricately choreographed. Their lifts were a blur as White spun across the ice with Davis held aloft, their movements and expressions still fierce despite the draining demands of the performance.