It’s been a big year for ice dancer Meryl Davis. The 27-year-old nabbed gold at the Sochi Olympics with longtime partner Charlie White, making them the first U.S. ice dancing team to win the top spot on the podium. The duo went on to snag the highest possible score in the team ice dancing competition as well, leading the U.S. towards a bronze medal in the event.
But Davis wasn’t done competing post-Olympics. Just a few months after the Games, she brought home the coveted Mirrorball Trophy as champion of Dancing With the Stars with partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy. Joining the cast of the Emmy-winning show came with a whole new set of challenges for Davis, who says, “I really learned a lot about myself that I didn’t expect to.”
Last night at the Women’s Sports Foundation’s 35th Annual Salute to Women in Sports, Davis was honored for her achievements, and named winner of the Sportswoman of the Year Award in the team sport category. She’s in good company, too: Previous winners include tennis greats Venus and Serena Williams, WNBA veteran Candace Parker and soccer legend Mia Hamm.
DailyBurn caught up with Davis on the red carpet to get the scoop on her favorite off-season workouts, what projects she’s working on next, and how she gets herself pumped up for a big competition.
What does your off-ice training consist of?
Before the Olympics, we worked with a trainer who would sort of dictate what was right for us. So we would do some running, some weight lifting, but other than that I think figure skaters often avoid too much cross training for risk of injury. Now post-Olympics, I’m playing tennis, and doing yoga and all sorts of things — kind of dabbling. Leading into the Games…other than running and weight lifting and a little bit of plyometrics, it’s really all on the ice.
Are you doing much dancing after Dancing With the Stars?
Yeah, I’m actually headed to LA to rehearse with Maks tomorrow. We have a show coming up called Shall We Dance. [Charlie and I are] going to be skating together and Maks and I are going to be dancing together. It will be a really fun hybrid of dancing and ice dancing!
Was Dancing With the Stars harder than you expected? What was that experience like?
I think it was more of a growing experience than I expected, personally. Of course, I expected to learn to dance, and to learn that skill. But I think kind of throwing myself into something else completely I really learned a lot about myself that I didn’t expect to. And spending so much time with someone else as well, learning from him, it was an incredible, incredible experience.
Before you compete, do you have any rituals or tricks to get yourself in the right mindset?
I do, it’s hard to think about them because they happen so naturally after so many years of competing! To psych myself up, people will make fun of me because I do a lot of clapping. Our coach told me years ago that if you clap 13 times before you compete, it energizes you. And I’m superstitious enough that whenever she tells me to do something, I just do it, and I don’t question it. That and deep breathing — but nothing too crazy!