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On a rainy, gold medal night, Meryl’s mom was missing Editor’s note: Barb Reichert, U.S. Figure Skating’s director of communications, was there when Meryl

Davis and Charlie White received their historic Olympic gold medals at a special ceremony in Sochi. In this column, Reichert recounts that memorable evening, which unfolded without a very special person in the skaters’ lives.

Standing in a steady downpour, there

was nowhere on earth I’d rather be. After 17 years of commitment and devotion to one sin- gular goal, Meryl Davis and Charlie White wait- ed in the wings giddy with anticipation. Just 22 hours earlier, they had earned the title “Olym- pic champions.” It hardly seemed real, Meryl said repeatedly, as if they were the only ones not prepared for this moment. The rain poured down in sheets. Typically,

the Medals Ceremonies in Sochi were attended by 10,000 fans who fi lled Olympic Park to cele- brate new champions. On this night — Meryl and Charlie’s night — only 2,000 or so fans de- fi ed the rain. It didn’t matter. Nothing could dampen

the spirits of America’s fi rst Olympic ice dance gold medalists or those in the crowd who came to witness their moment. But there was one notable person miss-

ing: Cheryl Davis, Meryl’s mom. Over the past two decades, Cheryl Da-

vis and Jacqui White have not missed a single competition, traveling the globe in support of their children. Much has been written about “The Moms,” and Meryl and Charlie are the fi rst to credit their families for their success. But on this night — Meryl and Charlie’s night — Cher- yl was confi ned to her hotel room with the “So- chi fl u.”

She had tried to conserve energy by skip-

ping a joyous day of media appearances that culminated on the rollicking set of the “Today” show. Her husband, Paul Davis, shadowed the bustling contingent and marveled at how composed and articulate his daughter is on camera. That evening, Cheryl missed the Order of

Ikkos, an emotional ceremony where Ameri- can medal winners honor their coaches. Meryl and Charlie beamed as they hung the chunky, beautifully crafted medals on the necks of Ma- rina Zoueva, Oleg Epstein and Johnny Johns. As the hour of the Medals Ceremony

drew near, Cheryl Davis mustered the energy to shower and get dressed. But this fl u was ruthless — I had it on Day 10 — and it brought a very proud mother to her knees.

Cheryl Davis did not stand in the pouring

rain. She did not see the moment her daughter fi rst stepped foot on the grand, elevated stage with the camera fi xed tightly on a radiant Mer- yl and Charlie. She was not there as the med- als were placed around their necks and their smiles melted hearts. Cheryl Davis did not choke up while trying to sing “The Star Span- gled Banner” as the American fl ag rose above those of Canada and host Russia. Paul Davis was there. He stood alongside

Jacqui White, in a moment that must have felt so very foreign to her. Jacqui and Cheryl have been through it all, the highs and lows of their children’s careers. They’ve experienced the emotional roller coaster of what happens to athletes in the public eye. To be standing with- out Cheryl at the culmination of their collective hopes and dreams for their kids must have giv- en Jacqui pause. As I stood in the rain, I thought of Cheryl

Davis. And I made a promise to myself to take in all the minutia of the moment the way only a mother could. When the newly minted gold medalists

exited the stage, our three-person communi- cations team was the fi rst to greet them. There were no media, allowing Meryl and Charlie to let down their collective professional guard. “Take a picture with us,” Charlie said, and

they both handed their medals to us. Heavy in my hand, Meryl’s Olympic gold medal was dripping wet. “It’s part of our Olympic story,” she said so wisely of the rainstorm. One week later, I returned home from

Russia. As I reviewed the hundreds of photos I took, this is the image that still gives me goose bumps. Meryl, Charlie, Josh Ellis (web content coordinator at U.S. Figure Skating) and I are sharing a moment that by sheer good fortune placed me in the graces of two great cham- pions who happen to be even better people. That’s when it hit me: Josh and I are the fi rst people to hold their gold medals. Not their par- ents, not the many people who love them. In the comfort of my home offi ce, I

thought of Cheryl Davis again. And wished she could have been standing in the rain with me.




4 APRIL 2014

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