Metro Detroit native Meryl Davis (and her ice dancing partner, Charlie White) won gold and world’s attention in the 2014 Olympics, she went on to win the Mirrorball on Dancing with the Stars and this weekend she’ll be Skating With The Stars during the opening night of Winter Blast Weekend downtown! With all eyes on the ice for two weeks in February, we asked Meryl to share some advice for inspired skaters. 

How did you  start ice skating?

I grew up on a lake in the suburbs that the neighborhood kids and I skated on in the winter. I began taking lessons at the Detroit Skating Club when I was 5-years-old have never looked back. I fell in love with the sport immediately!

What advice do you have for kids looking to follow in your footsteps?

My advice would be to try all sorts of things until you figure out what you love. I played some soccer growing up and did some gymnastics very briefly before recognizing that skating was the sport I wanted to exclusively dedicate my time to. Being an athlete is not always easy and there are certainly challenges along the way but there has never been a day on the ice that I didn’t enjoy in some way. Find what you love and the hard work is all worth it!

What advice do you have for parents who’s kids want to enter gymnastics?

Like most things in life, figure skating isn’t easy. Whether a child prefers skating exclusively for the fun of it or is on an elite track, there are many lessons to be learned. While learning skills on the ice, picking one’s self up after a fall, setting goals or working to push past challenges, young skaters may use figure skating as a way of learning values that transcend the ice. I would advice parents to discuss that with their children. Talk about what it takes to achieve your goals. Discuss perseverance and the idea that things don’t always go perfectly the first time around. Regardless of what your child hopes to get out of skating, I believe this sport offers a wonderful opportunity for growth.

What was the best part of being in the Olympics?

Along my journey to the Olympics, I found a belief in myself and a confidence in my own ability to persevere. Being a female athlete has been an incredibly empowering experience in that way.

What advice do you have for kids at their first (or big) competition?

Nerves are your body’s way of preparing for competition or high level performance. Once you understand that the adrenaline can be harnessed and used to your advantage, the natural nerves become less scary. It’s ok to be nervous.

Do you have a future Olympian at home? Check out our listing for local ice arenas.

Photo credit: Instagram