Shani Davis (USA) at the USOC Portrait Shoot 2013©Getty Images
As an Afro-American kid form the south side of Chicago, Shani Davis entered the international Speed Skating world as an exception in the early 2000s. In a prolific career over the course of more than fifteen years the 36-year-old American collected two Olympic titles, eleven ISU World Speed Skating titles, and 58 ISU World Cup Speed Skating wins. With 13,331 points he tops the all-time ranking in career ISU World Cup Speed Skating points.
Shani Davis (USA) Training Session at the Winter Olympic Games 2014©Getty Images
As omnipresent as Davis was during his career, as silent was his farewell. Although he never officially retired, the multiple World and Olympic Champion did not return to the ice after finishing seventh in the 1000m at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Games.
Apolo Anton Ohno, JP Kepka, Shani Davis, Daniel Weinstein, Ron Biondo, Rusty Smith US Team Winter Olympic Games 2002©Getty Images
Davis' Olympic career had started in 2002, when he became the first black Speed Skater to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Short Track Speed Skating Team for Salt Lake City. The youngster had already made a name for himself in the junior ranks winning five National Age Group Championships (1995, 1997, 1999, 2000, and 2003) and also won a North American Championship in 1999.
Shani Davis (USA) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (NED) 2009©Getty Images
Raised by his mother Cherie, the two-year-old Shani started roller skating at local rinks and pretty soon he was faster than the skate guards who were chasing him to ask him to slow down. His mother worked for an attorney, who also happened to be a Speed Skating official and who's son was an elite level Speed Skater. At his mother's employer's advice Shani joined the Evanston Speedskating Club at age six and at age ten, Shani and his mother even moved to the north of Chicago to be closer to the Speed Skating rink.
Michelle Obama and Shani Davis (USA) visit the children of River Terrace Elementary School 2010©Getty Images
Davis credits his mother for her relentless efforts to let her son reach his full potential. "My mom never thought of herself first," he says on his own website. "I credit most of my success to her. She continues to manage my career and is always there for me."
Mark Tuitert (NED) Shani Davis (USA) Erben Wennemars (NED) at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships 2004©AFP
In 2004 Davis won his first ISU World Speed Skating title as a senior, when he took gold in the 1500m at the ISU World Single Distances Speed Skating Championships in Hamar, Norway. When he entered the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, 23-year-old Davis already was a household name in Long Track Speed Skating, having won the 2005 ISU World Allround Speed Skating title. He confirmed his new status winning Olympic gold in the 1000m and silver in the 1500m.
Shani Davis (USA) at the NBC Today Show WInter Olympic Games 2006©Getty Images
Four years later he became the first, and to this date the only skater to win back-to-back 1000-meter Olympic gold. He also won another silver medal in the 1500 at the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games. Davis also skated at the 2014 Olympic Games, but despite having won five ISU World Cup Speed Skating races in that season, he did not manage to reach the podium in Sochi.
Shani Davis (USA) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (USA) 2009©International Skating Union (ISU)
At ISU World Speed Skating Championships Davis won two Allround titles (2005, 2006), one Sprint title (2009), four 1000m titles, three 1500m titles and one Team Pursuit title with the USA.
Apart from titles, Davis also managed to push the boundaries in international Speed Skating, breaking the 1000m world record twice and the 1500m world record four times. In the 1000m Davis was the first man to skate under 1:07 and in the 1500m he was the first to break the 1:42 barrier. Davis' 2009 world record in the 1000m (1.06,42) stood ten years only to be broken by Kjeld Nuis (1:06.18) in 2019.
Shani Davis (USA) at the Winter Olympic games Trials 2018©Getty Images
Not only was Davis the fastest man in 1000m between 2009 and 2019, he also led the Adelskalendar in the same time span, a ranking based on the Allround points for personal records in the 500m, 1500m, 5000m and 10,000m. In March 2019 Patrick Roest finally pushed Davis to second in the Adelskalendar, but Davis' name remains in the history books as one of the all-time greats in international Speed Skating.
Shani Davis (USA) at the ISU World Cup Speed Skating (NED) 2016©Getty Images