For almost a year, Charlie White and Tanith Belbin put their love on ice in the name of competition. But with the arrival of spring, love is blooming for the Olympic skating rivals.
“We were apart all year. Now, the best thing is being able to see Charlie every day and wake up next to him in the morning,” Belbin tells PEOPLE.
White, 22, and Belbin, 25, competed on rival ice-dancing teams – he with Meryl Davis, she with Ben Agosto – all season long, including at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. They kept their union on “the lowdown” to minimize distractions, says Belbin, but with the season over, things are heating up between them.
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“We have great chemistry,” says Belbin, who is traveling with White as part of the Smuckers Stars on Ice skating tour, which stops in Los Angeles Thursday at the Staples Center and Anaheim Friday at the Honda Center. “We like each other a lot, and the competing part hasn’t ever factored into our relationship or how we work with our respective partners.”
They’ve known each other for more than a decade, having both trained in the Detroit area. But the fireworks ignited only last June. “After that, we did every form of communication – cell, texting, Facebook,” says White.
White’s skating partner, Davis, was apprehensive at first. “She was concerned about how we would handle competitions,” White says. “But Meryl saw that I was there to skate my best and that’s what I would concentrate on.” (White and Davis ended up winning the silver medal in Vancouver. Belbin and Agosto finished fourth, after winning silver themselves in 2006.)
Now, White and Belbin are perfecting a new routine – daily life together. They share a hotel room on tour and are openly affectionate in public. Belbin, who once dated Evan Lysacek (and for whom both are rooting on Dancing with the Stars), may retire from competitive skating this year. She also plans on moving to Ann Arbor, Mich., to live with White, who will continue to compete with Davis.
They’re also planning a Mexico vacation.