Favorite road trip

When he has the time on weekends, Davis enjoys road tripping to Marquette, Michigan, where he graduated from Northern Michigan University. “It’s a really beautiful place,” he says. “I just love being on the road and the fall, before the winter, you see all the foliage and you drive up there. It’s real peaceful, it’s real scenic. I don’t really like driving that much, like long trips. It’s hard for me but I’m getting better at it.”

The drive takes him about six hours from Milwaukee and eight hours from Chicago. “I just like getting up there. It’s like returning home, it’s my second home,” he says. “A lot of good memories. I just really enjoy making that ride. I would go there to train and I have a friend who owns a restaurant there and makes the best Thai food.”

With his favorite dishes on his mind on the drive there, Davis’ first stop when he gets to Marquette is the Rice Paddy. “She makes a plum chicken that’s really good and a chicken shrimp and cheese and crab rangoon,” he says.

Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics

Growing up in Chicago, Davis used to go roller skating with his mom as a kid. “I always loved the speed of skating and I used to do it on roller skates at first and the people that taught me how to roller skate said to try speed skating,” he says. “Years later, my mom had a boss who had a son that did speed skating at a high level. He recommended it as well and when I was 6 years old, I tried speed skating and I never looked back. I always loved it, since the first day I put [speed skates] on my feet.”

Davis had to commute to the suburbs to speed skate, but it was a small price to pay for something he thoroughly enjoyed. Even when he started he had goals.

“It was simply just to skate fast and as I got older, people said I wasn’t good enough and I didn’t deserve to have the things I had. I’ve always wanted to prove them wrong and eventually I wanted to win a gold medal, but it was only because people were doubting me and not supporting me the way I felt they should have,” he says.

He says he wanted to give back to the people who believed and supported him from the beginning, “to show them, ‘Thank you for believing in me and giving me this chance and opportunity,’” he says. “I didn’t want to waste their efforts investing in me, so that motivated me to win a gold medal. But when I was kid, I simply just wanted to skate fast and have fun. Same goals as today, skate fast, have fun. That’s all I really want to do, even today.”

In 2013 Davis got a coveted Ralph Lauren sponsorship. He remains modest about breaking any color barriers, such as being the first African-American to win a gold medal at an individual sport in the Winter Olympics, preferring to focus on the work.

“I don’t like when we mention a lot of things about color, because for me that’s not really that important,” he says. “There’s not a lot of black people trying to speed skate to begin with. Not many black people really care to do a lot of winter sports in general.”

Davis’ obvious goal for Sochi is to bring back gold for a third time, which would make Olympic history.

“I’m going to aim as high as I can,” he says. “I’m going to shoot for the stars and try to come away with a piece or two of it. Everybody at this level, they want to win, so clearly I want to win and the best man wins. If it’s me, that’s great and that’s all I can hope for. That’s all I can do.”

You can follow his road to Sochi at www.NBCOlympics.com and www.TeamUSA.org and www.shanidavis.org.