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Davis, White still undecided on competitive return

Golden duo among skating dignitaries at Figure Skating in Harlem gala
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Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White and actress Cicely Tyson were among the honorees at Figure Skating in Harlem's annual gala. -Getty Images

Just over a week after Boston was the epicenter of the skating world, New York's Upper East Side took over that role -- at least for American dignitaries in the sport -- for Figure Skating in Harlem's annual gala Monday night.

The grassroots nonprofit that serves young girls through education and figure skating this year honored legendary actress Cicely Tyson and Olympic gold medalists Meryl Davis and Charlie White.

NBC News' Tamron Hall was on hand to present Davis and White their award, while Michelle Kwan, Evan Lysacek (accompanied by Vera Wang), Ashley Wagner, Adam Rippon, Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani and many (many!) more recognizable names attended the event, held at 583 Park Avenue for the second straight year.

"We are so thrilled to have all of the Olympic skaters and especially the world medalists joining us tonight," Sharon Cohen, FSH's founder and chief executive officer, told icenetwork. "It gives our organization a boost of recognition for the work that we do, which is to empower young girls from less-resourced communities to be able to access figure skating."

After a cocktail hour downstairs, Cohen took to the stage on the main floor to boast of recent successes: A new academic center for the girls in Harlem; a $15,000 grant from U.S. Figure Skating; and the continued progress on a yet-to-debut pilot program in Detroit, partially led by Davis.

"We're rocking and rolling in Detroit," Cohen said. "We are working with Meryl and people in Detroit on an advisory board, and we have a rink that we have an eye on. We hope to be up within the next 12 months."

After Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir announced their comeback in February, eyes have turned to Davis and White to see if they'd make the same move. But there is no final decision yet, Davis said, though White said, "The option is open."

"We have about six months (to decide). We want to decide during the season so we can be competitively ready," White told a small group of reporters. "Whether or not we get to any competitions (next season) doesn't necessarily make any difference, as long as we could have been competing.

"It's a discussion. We're on the same page. It's such a big life decision; people forget that. If we decide not to compete here, we don't want to regret that later. It's a tough choice."

White said Virtue and Moir's decision will not impact his and Meryl's.

"The perspective you gain as you get older makes it only a competition with yourself," he said.

It was a who's-who night in figure skating: Sasha Cohen and a recently engaged Timothy Goebel (read on below) made appearances, as did Tanith Belbin White and Ben Agosto.

Meryl Davis had boyfriend Fedor Andreev on her arm, one of their rare appearances together in public.

It was a new kind of appearance for Goebel, the "Quad King" and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist, as he and Thomas Luciano, his boyfriend of three years, had gotten engaged just the night before. They announced the pending nuptials on Facebook.

"I was completely caught off guard," Goebel told icenetwork. "I sort of knew that it was going to happen this year, but I thought it would be more November or December. It was so unexpected and quaint…it was just perfect."

Goebel, who works as a media and marketing analyst, is in business school at NYU Stern to earn a master's degree in data science. He met Luciano, an asset manager for PIMCO, through ice dancer Rob Shmalo.

Goebel never publicly came out, and he told icenetwork this was the kind of thing he wanted to share -- with everyone.

"It's such an exciting thing to find someone that you want to spend the rest of your life with," he said. "I just felt like there was so many people I wanted to tell, so it was a more en masse thing. I've gotten so many nice comments and notes and texts from people I'm close with but don't get to talk with that often. That alone has been a really warming experience."

Fellow 2002 Olympian Michelle Kwan was in attendance as well, taking a break from her busy schedule on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign.

"It's unlike anything I've ever experienced or been involved in," Kwan said of the campaign. "It really is an honor. Every morning I wake up and I'm excited. There is a lot at stake. We're making sure that we're getting out the vote. It's going to be tough. All along we knew that it was going to be tough. But it's very exciting, too."

Agosto discussed working with the legendary Christopher Dean on the European Holiday on Ice tour, "Believe," last fall outside of Amsterdam. The tour has just finished in Germany and is now in France.

"What an amazing experience," he told icenetwork. "It was an incredible production. … To see it come to life from an empty warehouse on a sheet of ice to this show with two elevators and a giant LED screen -- it really was a spectacle like I've never seen before."

Agosto said he rode a bike to work -- very Dutch -- each day and now has a strong-standing relationship with Dean, whom he barely knew prior.

"To work with him in close, intense proximity, we gelled right away," Agosto said. "We got along. We are close friends now."

Agosto said he has told his students in Arizona, where he's spent the last two years, that he's leaving soon. What's next? He was mum on details but said he was happy to be going somewhere "not so hot" and that offers a "great opportunity both personally and professionally."

Wagner and Rippon were nearly inseparable for the evening, each of them coming off the high of competing at the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships and recently being announced as members of Team North America for the inaugural Team Challenge Cup, set for April 22-24 in Spokane, Washington.

"It's a really exciting event, especially because it's the first of hopefully many," world silver medalist Wagner said. "The aspect of competing against these ladies but in a totally different format -- that will be really exciting for the audience. I'm so exhausted from this season, but it gives me one more chance to skate Moulin Rouge! the way that I want to."

Rippon said he was looking forward to being on a team with his Canadian friends that are normally rivals.

"I love the team aspect; it brings camaraderie in for us," Rippon said. "We all want to come away having ended this good season on a great note."

Asked to sum up his worlds in one word, Rippon picked "brilliant," then elaborated.

"The crowd was unreal: It was a once-in-a-lifetime circumstance," he said. "I felt like I was Michael Jordan when they announced my name. That kind of energy really pushed me through and helped me relax and skate my best."

The Shibutanis said that while they head out on the U.S. Stars on Ice tour this week, they're already hungry for the 2016-17 season to begin.

"To me, this is the most important part of the season, where you're developing concepts," Alex said of the next couple of months. "You want to make sure that you're coming up with material that is going to last. If you have a good plan from the get-go, you're setting yourself up for success."

Other familiar faces and names in the building included NBC's Andrea Joyce, U.S. Figure Skating President Sam Auxier and former pairs skater JoJo Starbuck.

Notes, noted:

-- A whole host of attendees (Wagner, Rippon, Davis and White, and the Shibutanis included) were headed straight from the event to Hershey, Pennsylvania, for SOI rehearsals, literally: They were driving from NYC to Pennsylvania that evening. The show opens Friday. 

-- Kwan on Wagner being the first U.S. woman to win a world medal since 2006: "It was a spectacular evening. It was a statement by her. It felt like something was lifted off of her shoulders. It felt like such a burden for the [U.S. ladies]. The drought is gone. For her to skate so well in the U.S. and win a silver medal, that makes for a wonderful evening."

-- Goebel said he was impressed by the men at worlds (he watched from home in downtown Manhattan), and that the quad -- many of them -- is here to say: "We have a lot of athletes in the U.S. that are capable of doing [quads], but it's just about putting it together at the right time. Two quads in the long and a quad in the short is the standard if you want to be top five, top seven in the world. It's exciting to see that not only are they doing multiple quads, but the programs are so clean and so thoughtful. It's not step, step, step, jump. There is balance and interest. I'm glad I'm not competing anymore!"

-- Charlie White had words of praise for Guillaume Cizeron: "What really strikes me is his flexibility. I always have considered myself a strong partner and someone who can hold their own out there, but sometimes he is just able to grab your attention with the length of his back and the ability to stretch his legs…it's very impactful. That wasn't ever my thing."

-- What would Rippon's summer Olympic sport be? "Gymnastics. Because I've always wanted to do a back walkover. And my event? Pommel horse. Because the U.S. men, I've heard, struggle there. I'm here to help." (laughs)