What does it take to get to the top -- without losing your center? Our “Making It Work” series profiles successful, dynamic women who are standouts in their fields, peeling back the "hows" of their work and their life, taking away lessons we can all apply to our own.
Meryl Davis' Olympic gold medal was 17 years in the making.
The 27-year-old ice dancer skated in over 75 competitions with her partner Charlie White before taking home the gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The two began skating together as children, when they were just 10 and 9 years old, respectively.
“In terms of our partnership there’s never been a moment of doubt since 1997,” Davis told TeamUSA.org in a pre-Olympics interview.
Davis was born in Royal Oak, MI, and grew up in nearby West Bloomfield Township. As well as training on the ice and in the gym up to ten hours a day, five days a week, Davis, 27, is an undergraduate at the University of Michigan majoring in cultural anthropology.
She caught up with HuffPost Women over email about her relationship with White, advice to her younger self and what she does to relax.
Why do you do the work that you do?
Charlie and I discovered at a really young at that we had a passion for figure skating and I think that passion drives us to work every day to improve and grow. We have really learned to love our sport more and more, year to year. And the hard work really pays off.
Do you have a role model?
My mom is my role model. Charlie and I have two great sets of parents, but our moms are often the ones that go with us to competitions. My mom was with me in Sochi. I am so lucky to be a part of the Thank You Mom program partnered with Puffs and P&G.
Having my mom in Sochi was a different experience because we were staying in the village. It is so nice to know that our moms were taken care of even when we couldn’t be with them all the time. Getting advice from them before we went out to compete on Olympic ice was really invaluable to us.
What advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
I would tell myself not to stress about the little things. I am a much happier 27-year-old than I was at 20 years old. I am so fortunate because I have an amazing family, amazing friends and a great support system. I think at 27 it is much easier for me to look at life and appreciate what I have rather than stressing about the little things day to day.
What has it been like to work with the same person for 17 years and how has your relationship changed?
It’s going to be different for every person who has been in a 17-year-long relationship, regardless of the [nature of the] relationship, but we are so lucky to have been able to grow up together and go through all these experiences, like traveling around the world for figure skating competitions. The amount of respect we have had for each other the entire time we have been competing has been so important.
Having similar work ethics has allowed us to reach our dream without having to worry about anything silly getting in the way. That is what brought us the Olympic gold medal -- our partnership and our relationship. When you compare us to all the other teams out there I think our relationship is definitely the strongest.
How do you define success? And by that definition, would you consider yourself successful?
I think success is finding happiness! Everyone certainly has different goals in life, and things that are important to them and also things that are not important to them. I think the important things are the things that make us happy and finding those things is the definition of success. I absolutely define myself as successful.
Do you keep your phone next to your bed, and do you make a point to turn it off ever?
I keep my phone on the floor in my bedroom and I turn the sound off when I sleep, but I never really turn my phone off.
What is the perfect day off for you?
I really like spending time outside because we spend so much of our training indoors. Oftentimes we will get to the rink when the sun comes up and leave when the sun is setting, so on a weekend I really like to spend at least one day outside and not be stuck indoors all day.
What do you do to relax?
Actually, the same thing!
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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