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An Ice Dancer Keeps Her Skates Close and Packs for the Cold


Olympic ice dancer and gold medalist, Meryl Davis, at her practice rink in Canton, Mich. PETER BAKER FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL


No matter where Meryl Davis is heading for her next gig, she knows the job site will be cold and windy. Such is the life of a figure skater.

Ms. Davis and her skating partner, Charlie White, became the first Americans to win Olympic gold in ice dancing at the 2014 Sochi Games. Just a few months later, she shed her skates to compete in the ABC show “Dancing With the Stars,” and won. Now she’s part of the skating show Stars on Ice, which kicked off a 10-city tour on Dec. 30 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Between competitions and performances, the 28-year-old travels several times a month from her home in suburban Detroit.

“I feel like I’m always packing or unpacking,” she says.

Her carry-on is a purple Tumi rolling hard suitcase. Her ice skates, made by Harlick, are the most important item. Sometimes TSA agents won’t let the skates through security—they are sharpened steel blades, after all—and she’ll have to check them.

“That’s the most nerve-racking part of traveling, wondering if your skates will arrive,” Ms. Davis says. “Sometimes you’ll land in Moscow and your skates are still in Germany.”

A skate towel to dry the blades, skate guards to protect them and transparent hockey tape to secure her laces round out her equipment.

Equally important are the tools she uses to ward off the ill effects of life on ice: Blistex lip protector, tissues, face moisturizer and Ricola cough drops.

Skaters always have chapped lips and sore throats, she says. They skate and spin fast enough that it is actually windy. They constantly have runny noses, too. Ms. Davis and her partner are sponsored by Puffs tissues. “Charlie and I go through a case a week,” she says.

But, Ms. Davis likes the cold. She started skating at age 5. “Even when I was younger, I loved being a little bit chilly,” she says. “Anything over 70 degrees is not OK for me. I just melt.”

She wears North Face gloves in the rink year-round and brings her Olympic-issue Ralph Lauren winter jacket and fleece. For skating practice, she packs Lululemon yoga clothing—a different outfit for each day. Unlike other athletes who can work out in the privacy of a gym, figure skaters usually rehearse in front of a crowd.

Then, there are the costumes. She usually brings four skating dresses, many of which she designed with her mother, Cheryl. They are typically handmade of sheer, stretchy fabrics and adorned with sequins, stones or feathers. They can cost between $1,000 and $6,000. She’s always searching for new design ideas, and is an avid Instagram user.

Most skaters cover their bare legs with sheer pantyhose. Ms. Davis packs half a dozen pairs of Hanes. Each lasts for just one performance. She buys them in bulk, 120 pairs to a box.

Not many sports involve makeup, but figure skating demands it. Her Vera Bradleycosmetics carrier goes everywhere. Dark red lipstick is her signature. Her color of the moment is Cabaret Blend, by Milani. She shies away from cakey foundation, instead using tinted moisturizer by Kimiko Beauty.

Ms. Davis enjoys the glamour of performing, but her favorite travel item is for after the show: a pair of fur-lined Mukluk boots. “As a figure skater, your feet are always freezing, and there’s nothing like slipping into a cozy pair of winter boots,” she says. “Even if it’s 75 degrees outside, in the rink, it’s winter.”


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