Olympic ice dancer Charlie White has Hilton Head cheering for him

eshaw@islandpacket.com

February 15, 2014 

  • WATCH 'MARLIE' PERFORM


    Feb. 16: Ice dance short dance

  • 10 a.m., NBCSN

  • 7 p.m., NBC

  • Feb. 17: Ice dance free dance; medal ceremony follows competition

  • 10 a.m., NBCSN

  • 8 p.m., NBC

  • Watch live at www.nbcolympics.com/live-extra.

When people ask about the ice skate charm that Hilton Head Island resident Gail Kaess wears on her bracelet, she tells them it's for her nephew, who is an ice skater.

Not just any ice skater, but an Olympic ice skater named Charlie White.

White is the captain of the U.S. Olympic skating team competing in Sochi, Russia. He is the other half of "Marlie," the collective tag given to him and his ice dance partner, Meryl Davis, who together are Team USA's best hope for a first-ever ice dancing gold medal in the Olympics.

White and Davis have already played an integral role in securing USA a bronze medal in the team competition, and on Feb. 16 and 17, they will try to up the ante with a win in the pairs ice dancing event.

But when he's not twirling, twizzling and tossing his long blond locks on the ice, White spends as much time on Hilton Head Island as he can.

"Charlie has spent every vacation on Hilton Head Island," Kaess said. "He loves to be on the ocean."

Originally from Michigan, White and his family have a long tradition of vacationing on the south end of the island, and enjoy spending time on Coligny Beach, swimming and getting ice cream, Kaess said. She and several of White's cousins now live here.

"People will recognize him on the beach," Kaess said.

Maybe it's the hair.

The ice dancer's curly mop has become somewhat of a trademark. It even has its own Twitter account (check out @CharlieWsHair.) And it's just as amazing in real life, Kaess attests.

"When (White and Davis) started skating internationally, the judges encouraged him to keep the hair long. They said it adds more drama, and ice skating is all about drama."

Not that White and Davis needed more of an edge. The pair practically floats on ice, turning the rink into their own personal ballroom. They have won six national championships, two world championships (2010, 2013) and a silver medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

White, 26, and Davis, 27, have been skating together since elementary school. They were both singles skaters and White was also a hockey player. Eventually they both committed to focus solely on ice dancing.

Kaess said White is an extremely focused man on and off the ice. He and Davis both attend the University of Michigan and excel in their studies, she said. For now, though, the focus is entirely on winning another medal.

"Charlie always mentions needing to focus, pushing to beat his score from last time," Kaess said. "This is a culmination of a lifetime of hard work for him.

"We're all thrilled."

Follow reporter Erin Shaw at twitter.com/IPBG_ErinShaw.

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Ice skating pair's website

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