With their amateur and professional skating careers far behind them, Tanith White, Charlie White and Greg Zuerlein have embarked on a new adventure in the world of ice dance. In March 2022, they threw open the doors of the Michigan Ice Dance Academy (MIDA), which is based at their former training rink, Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Michigan.

Following their respective retirements from the competitive world, Tanith, Charlie and Zuerlein went in different directions. Tanith, 37, retired in 2010 and moved into the world of television, working as a broadcast host and a sports reporter for the NBC network.

During her competitive career, she and her ice dance partner Benjamin Agosto claimed silver at the 2006 Winter Games in Torino, Italy, winning the first Olympic ice dance medal for the U.S. in 30 years.

Eight years later, Charlie and his partner Meryl Davis stood on the top step of the 2014 Olympic podium, making history as the first American team to ever win an Olympic ice dance crown. The duo immediately retired from competition and toured on the professional circuit for many years. In the winter of 2021, Charlie graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in philosophy.

Zuerlein, 33, the 2009 World Junior champion with Madison Chock, left the competitive arena in 2011 and turned to coaching and choreography. He worked alongside his coach Igor Shpilband for five years, before moving to the East Coast to train ice dancers at a school in Wheaton, Maryland. In 2019, Zuerlein returned to Michigan and once again began working at his former training base in Canton.

Tanith and Charlie, who married in 2015 and welcomed a son in late 2017, started discussing the possibility of opening an ice dance academy during the COVID-19 pandemic. With a lot of time on their hands, the couple began researching the idea and reached out to their many skating friends and colleagues for input on all manner of things.

“Since the day we stepped off the ice at our last competitions and retired, Tanith and I have remained integrated in the skating community in different ways and have had the pleasure of gaining new perspectives — what the skating community represents to us and what we both personally took away from it,” Charlie explained.

“Of course, we have fond memories of training and competing, but the impact of skating now that we have had time to consider it has been so thorough — not always in the best ways, but mostly. It was with this in mind that the seed of creating something for young skaters started to grow between us.”

Both had been choreographing programs and guest coaching in different venues, but said they found themselves most at ease when they were helping young skaters deal with the difficulties of the day and calming their nerves when facing the future. “One day we woke up and were like ‘this is our life.’ And what made the most sense to us was to open our own skating school,” Charlie recalled.

“The reason it made the most sense was because we wanted to engineer the idea based on our own philosophy,” Tanith added. “The conversation started between Charlie and I, and then we had some very long conversations with Olympians that had recently retired.

“They provided us with a lot of feedback and understanding on how their paths had impacted their lives. That helped broaden our perspective on the role that skating plays in the lives of many different individuals in many different ways. It kind of started from there.”

Zuerlein said it had always been in the back of his mind to eventually open an ice dance academy, but he had no idea who he wanted to do it with.

Prior to proposing the concept to Zuerlein, Tanith and Charlie invested a significant amount of time in the planning stages, reaching out to a vast resource pool of sport professionals that they had known since their own competitive days.

“We had long conversations with sport physicians, athletic trainers, mental health professionals, nutritionists and others about their experiences working with skaters,” Tanith recalled. “We asked them: ‘If you could imagine, from your professional expertise, an ideal skating school, what components would that include?’ They provided us with a lot of specific ideas that we were able to incorporate into our plan.”

Charlie, who attended The Roeper School from kindergarten through 12th grade, said a lot of the inspiration for the skating school they wanted to develop came from his educational experience. “Also, the many conversations Tanith and I had helped give us a clear idea of what is at stake when you are working with young people and trying to help them achieve their goals.”

With all three having trained with the same coaching team at the same time during their respective careers, the thought processes of each person were very similar when it came to building a skating school.

“Of course, you carry with you what you felt, your own memories and feelings from your competitive career,” said Tanith. “I think this has been the most valuable thing — just having gone through the experiences ourselves makes us much more attuned to behavior patterns and conversations, which can guide us to provide whatever we think a skater needs at that moment.”

Tanith and Charlie reconnected with Zuerlein in 2021 when he invited Charlie to work with his senior ice dance team, Emily Bratti and Ian Somerville, as well as a young novice duo. “Charlie and I grew up together — we have known each other since we were 10 years old. I knew Tanith because we all trained at Arctic when we were coached by Marina (Zoueva) and Igor,” said Zuerlein.

“Charlie had been working with my team and we got along really well. We had the same vision about everything we wanted to do in a school.”

Tanith said their conversations with Zuerlein made it obvious they were all very much aligned in how each viewed figure skating. “We sat down with Greg and told him we would like to start an academy; we would like to do it here (at Arctic Edge) and we would like to do it with you.”

Though Zuerlein was excited about the prospect of having his own school, he admitted it took him a week to come to a decision. “There were a lot of things to consider logistically, like whether we could do it at Arctic, and then trying to put the pieces together before deciding that this was what I wanted to do. “It was not an impulsive decision, but I had a feeling of trust from the beginning.”

With a decade of coaching experience working alongside some of the best in the world, Zuerlein brought a wealth of knowledge to the project but said all three are learning from each other.

“You need to keep growing and evolving in your teaching methods. What Tanith and Charlie are bringing to our school is just outstanding. Sometimes I watch what they are doing, and I am like ‘oh yeah, that is not something I have thought about.’ I also learn things from them.

“Every day we have fun, we are always laughing but we get things done. There is not one role that each of us is strictly prone to. We can all do everything; we all have an eye for skating skills, choreography and the technical aspects. I think things are working great.”

The trio is fortunate in that the venue in which MIDA operates has all the amenities high-level skaters need, including a ballet studio and a full gym run by the same trainer Tanith and Charlie worked with during their own careers.

They have also partnered with the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, a connection Charlie made prior to his graduation. “He connected with the director of the dance department and started throwing ideas back and forth about how we could partner with the university,” Tanith explained.

“Every couple of weeks our students attend on campus and take classes with the students at the university. It is not only just a fun field trip for them, but more importantly it has introduced our students to a different environment. They mingle with artists who are on a slightly different path, but they have so much in common.”

“Our ballet instructor is also affiliated with the university,” Zuerlein added. “She comes in twice a week, and we resource through her to find Latin dance instructors or whatever we need.

“Working with the dance program is a great opportunity for our students. It is cool for them to see how those students are inspired through ballet and dance and having interactions with people outside of the skating world is really neat for them.”

They currently have four senior teams under their wing: Bratti and Sommerville, Molly Cesanek and Yehor Yehorov, Katarina Wolfkostin and Jeffrey Chen, and Deanna Arnold and Seiji Urano. All agree they are a wonderful group of individuals who are “not only good students, but really good people. “We are really happy that this is our groove and the groove we got to start in,” said Tanith.

“It was serendipitous timing that just seemed like an alignment of the stars. It was a dream for all three of us, and the fact that we all came to it at the same time in our old stomping ground of all places is great. We could not be happier.”

Looking back at the evolution of ice dance over the last decade, Charlie believes there has been “a certain kind of fearlessness as the discipline has moved through and continues to move forward.”

“It is a big reason that ice dance has maintained its popularity through tumultuous times. With all the rule changes, it still really grabs people’s attention, and I don’t believe it is merely entertainment value; there is something deeper, which I think people recognize and feel.

“It has been an interesting decade, most heavily influenced by Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron’s style, and also the success of Scott Moir and Tessa Virtue. It has also been interesting to see how everyone has adapted their styles to the top teams. In the last quad we saw a lot of teams come into their own, and what was interesting at the last Olympics was how everyone seemed sure of their own skating identity.

“But now we are again at an interesting point — a little bit of a shift I would guess. It will be interesting to see what happens next. I am excited to see how our teams will fit into the bigger picture.”

Tanith is hoping the new Olympic quad will bring an even broader range of styles and believes that while there is a place for the classics, “there is also a place for things we have never seen before.”

“Ice dance has become one of the most interesting disciplines to watch,” Zuerlein said. “The sport is always evolving and pushing the limits technically. I remember doing lifts and now we are doing lifts with composition and exits that were not even thought about before. Creating more intricate moves on the ice is interesting to the eye and there is definitely more room for creativity.”

He is, however, hesitant about what next season will bring with the compulsory section of the rhythm dance removed. “I am not so sure about that change. I thought it really showed the skating skills and the difference from one team to another. But we will see what happens this season.

“The addition of a choreo step will be a crowd pleaser that audiences will enjoy more than watching say a Rhumba pattern — which was what they were going to do this year. I think ice dance is evolving in the right direction.”


Now officially retired from the professional circuit, Charlie is enjoying having a solid home base and said he would only return to shows “if someone offered me a million dollars.”

“I had such a wonderful experience doing so many shows and was so fortunate that after the Olympics I had a lot of great opportunities, and I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if it is because I am a dad now, but something definitely shifted in my psyche. I never find myself wishing I was still on tour or anything like that.”

Tanith is also enjoying their new lifestyle. “Charlie and I have not had a lot of opportunities to work together in the past 10 years. He was touring and I was travelling for my broadcasting work, and a lot of the time our schedules were dependent upon if one was out of town then the other stayed home.

“It is just such a treat for us to be able to drive to work and spend that time together. Just to be settled feels really nice, especially doing something we are so passionate about.”

Tanith has not closed the door on her broadcasting career but said she will only be covering skating events going forward.

Their son, Charlie, who will turn 5 in December, enjoys skating but neither parent is giving him lessons. “We have set him free on the ice, but I can’t say that we have taught him anything,” Tanith said with a laugh. “He enjoys it, but he enjoys everything. We tried hockey skates first, but he really does better in figure skates. He is a very active, athletic kid who is happy trying anything new.

“Mostly he just likes to get to know the skaters and feels like they are all part of the family.”

Ed note: On Aug. 19, Caroline Green and Michael Parsons announced they had changed coaches and are now based in Canton. 

This article originally ran in the July/August 2022 issue of IFS.