Olympic gold medalists ‘grateful’ to turn on lights in Kansas City

The focus of the selfie wasn’t quite right.

An adoring fan’s attempt to include himself in a photograph with his family and Olympic gold medalists Charlie White and Meryl Davis was missing a key element: White’s face.

The 2014 Olympic gold medalists in ice dancing helped flip the switch on the holiday season during the annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting ceremony Friday at Crown Center. White and Davis were celebrity guests of Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

But first came a meet and greet where White playfully demanded a do-over of the self-portrait.

“Let’s try that one again,” White said. “You can’t leave this face out of the photo.”

White was joking, of course. He and Davis gracefully honored the requests of hundreds of fans who lined the grassy area outside of Crown Center’s Ice Terrace for the autograph session.

Some people wanted autographs, while others wanted hugs. A majority wanted photos — traditional and selfies alike. Quite a few went for the trifecta: hugs, autographs and a photo.

No request went unanswered.

“It was really cool,” 12-year-old Kayla Yu said after a photo op that included the Olympians and Kayla’s 24-year-old sister, Jackie Yu, and a cousin, Anqi Cheng, visiting from China.

White and Davis performed an on-ice routine prior to the meet and greet. The brief exhibit pleased Kayla, an aspiring ice skater who will volunteer at the 2017 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in January in Kansas City.

White and Davis promoted the event during Friday’s ceremony.

“They were really good,” Kayla said.

Jackie Yu said the presence of the ice skaters was a good draw for the city. Friday’s ceremony was Yu’s first tree lighting event.

“They are so awesome and such great skaters,” she said. “We were really excited that they came to our home city. This was great.”

Cheng added that the two-time world ice skating champions are popular in China, which prompted the gigantic smile on her face during the group photo.

“I was pretty excited to see them,” she said.

Davis said the pair is appreciative of the ability to earn a living as skaters. Meeting people and turning on Christmas lights are all part of it, she said.

“To be able to share that with other people in new places is really exciting for us,” Davis said. “We’re extremely grateful.”

White said a chance for him and Davis to flip the switch in Kansas City was an honor.

“We don’t take it for granted, that’s for sure,” he said.

Toriano Porter: 816-234-4779, @torianoporter