Michigan has plenty to be proud of when it comes to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Seven of the figure skaters going to Sochi train in Metro Detroit.
Charlie White and Meryl Davis are the darlings of U.S. Ice Dance. The reigning World Champions have a Silver medal from the 2010 Winter games, and are the favorites to win the Gold in Sochi. White says, "Obviously we're going into these games with very high expectations. We've had a lot of great momentum over the last 4 years since the 2010 games, and we feel like we've put ourselves in a really great position to come home with a gold medal, so that's what we're going to go try to do."
Fresh off their 6th national title, White and Davis lead a team of 6 ice dancers to represent the U.S. They're all friends, and they all call Michigan home.
Igor Shpilband is one of many elite coaches training Olympic athletes in Michigan. He says, "There is nowhere in the world you can find so many top skaters." Shpilband works with several skating teams, among them Madison Chock and Evan Bates. "I'm lucky in the sense that I was born in Ann Arbor and just all of these really top quality coaches came to the Detroit area and from Detroit Skating Club branched off and landed in a few different spots. So there are some really serious camps around southeast Michigan with some very elite athletes."
Bates and Chock placed 2nd at U.S. National Championships in Boston. Sochi will be the second Olympic experience for Bates, the first for Chock. "I'm so over the moon and completely thrilled. This has been a lifelong dream of mine and Evan's and I'm just so happy. We couldn't be in better company. We are just thrilled."
Brother and sister Alex and Maia Shibutani placed 3rd in the U.S. National Championships. They share a coach and rink in Canton, with White and Davis. Alex Shibutani says he's still soaking it all in. "It's a crazy sport and it's a crazy life, and moments like this you don't prepare for, you only really dream of."
The dream also comes true for 28 year-old Jeremy Abbott, who trains in Bloomfield Hills. The 4-time U.S. Champion heads to Sochi to wrap up his career. Abbott says, "Had a good week here, and I still have a lot of energy left and I'm excited to go home and keep putting in the work, staying methodical and just sticking to the plan and the goal."
Five of the U.S. Olympic ice dancers have ties to the University of Michigan. Davis and White, and the Shibutanis are students there. Evan Bates graduated in December, 2013.