SOCHI, Russia – Winter Olympic ice dance hero Charlie White gave a puzzling response when asked about how winning a gold medal might affect the handling of his romantic relationship with former skater Tanith Belbin.
White and Belbin live together in Ann Arbor, Mich., but the American star, who captured Olympic gold along with partner Meryl Davis on Monday, has tried for years to keep their romance out of the spotlight in order to concentrate on the Games.
However, even in the moment of his greatest triumph, the 26-year-old White did not want to publicly acknowledge Belbin, who won an Olympic ice dance silver medal with Ben Agosto in 2006 and now works as an analyst for NBC.
At the United States Olympic Committee press conference he staged with Davis after their emotional victory over close friends Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada, Yahoo Sports quizzed White about whether his secrecy regarding Belbin would now change.
The exchange went as follows:
Yahoo Sports: "Hi guys, well done. Charlie, sorry to ask but over the last few years you have worked quite hard to keep your personal relationship with your girlfriend hidden, a secret almost. Does that change now you've won the gold medal or will that still be the same?"
White: "Well I think in this moment, this is really about Meryl and myself and what we've accomplished as a team. For 17 years now we have been together, so I don't think there is anything that can take away from that."
[Video: Davis and White golden in ice dance]
Yahoo Sports revealed the reasoning behind White rarely addressing his relationship with Belbin last week. In an interview with the skater that took place before the Sochi Games, White explained that the importance of having the skating audience and the judges believe he and Davis are in love was paramount.
The only time White and Belbin have both spoken publicly about their love life was in 2010, when they were promoting a touring ice show and gave an interview to People.com.
Belbin admitted at the U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston last month that she was so nervous before Davis and White's performance that her knuckles had turned white. As of Tuesday morning Sochi time, she had not tweeted anything about her boyfriend's gold medal.
She did, however, post a picture of herself and her friend – U.S. figure skater Jeremy Abbott – skating together on a trip to the mountains near Sochi with an image of Davis and White on a giant screen behind.