While you were twizzling the night away Monday watching the ice dancers at the Sochi Games, here's a fun fact you might not have known: The Detroit area is the worldwide Mecca for ice dancing. Yes, for real.
The home of Eminem, the Pistons and the American auto industry is also where ice dancers from all over the world hone their craft. That's not hyperbole either. Of the 20 teams that competed in Monday's ice-dancing finale, 14 of them train at the three big powerhouse facilities near Detroit. That's according to the Detroit Free Press, which must keep itself busy with ice dancing coverage.
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At the top of the list are Team USA darlings Meryl Davis and Charlie White, along with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, a Canadian pair who train in Michigan. Davis/White won the gold in ice dancing while their rivals Virtue/Moir finished second.
Not only do they both train at the same facility, the Arctic Edge in Canton, Mich. (about 30 miles from Detroit), but they also have the same coach, the esteemed Marina Zoueva. They were the top two teams at the 2010 Winter Olympics, with the Canadians winning four years ago. So Michigan-trained teams fare well on the medals podium too.
If you think it's odd that a team from Canada trains in the U.S., it's not. And it's not even the half of Michigan's stronghold on the ice-dancing world. Teams from Japan, France, Italy, Australia, Azerbaijan, Germany and Lithuania train near Detroit. There's the facility in Canton, another popular one in Bloomfield Hills where Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje do their training.
In the town of Novi is the Novi Ice Center, where Team USA's Madison Chock and Evan Bates, Italy's Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte and Germany's Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi train. Both Bloomfield Hills and Novi are about a half-hour from Detroit.
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Of the top 10 teams in the final ice dancing standings, only three — the two Russian teams and the Great Britain team — don't train at the three ice centers in Michigan. Why? It's the coaches. In addition to Zoueva, fellow Russian Igor Shpilband trains teams there. When the top coaches go there, so do the top talents.
Just ask Bates, who trains at Novi with Shpilband and his teammate Chock. He tells the Detroit Free Press:
“Clearly, Michigan is a powerhouse in ice dancing,” said Bates, who grew up in Ann Arbor. “I would say that’s because of the coaching. We are successful because we happen to have good coaching and the best coaches happen to be in Michigan. I was lucky because I was born and raised in Michigan and sort of fell into ice dancing. I just happen to have the best coaches in the world not far from home.”
If nothing else, this ought to make Detroit feel a little bit better about the Lions.
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