Travel Tales with Olympian Shani Davis

The Olympic speed skater shares his favorite travel memories. 

Travel Tales with Olympian Shani Davis

Korean taste

When I was 18, a coach invited me to stay with his family in the D.C. area as he showed me new Korean skating techniques. His parents cooked every day. I was used to hamburgers and pizza, and they were cooking japchae [a typical Korean vermicelli] and jjigae [stew]. It grew on me. Now, when I’m in South Korea, I’ll eat ddukbokki [a spicy rice cake], the Korean barbeque with all the fixings and my favorite dish, bulgogi [thin marinated meat]. I can eat a lot of the local food that some people will cringe at.

Getting lost in Sweden

I like to jog and feel I’m a pretty good navigator. But Scandinavia gets dark super early. In Gothenburg, I went to jog at 2:30 in the afternoon and 30 minutes into my run it got midnight dark. It was the dead of winter, and I was lost and cold and jet-lagged. I had to get a cab. The guy didn’t speak English. I didn’t speak Swedish. Luckily, I had my hotel key card and the driver took me to five different Radissons until we got to the right one. But I made it back in one piece!

Olympic Dreaming in Japan

When I was younger and training, I remember watching the 1998 Nagano Olympics on TV. The dream was always to go to the Olympics. In the 2007-2008 season, there was a World Championship in Nagano and I actually won! It was so cool to win at the Olympic track where I had seen so many of my peers skate in the ’98 Olympics. To be in an Olympic Village and compete there and to win on that track was so special.

Something Fishy in Norway

I am a foodie and will try anything once. I had a friend from Norway who would always joke about a fish called lutefisk. It’s a white fish that they air-dry for three or four days, then bathe in lye and cold water. Then they rinse it, cook it and serve it with bacon and potatoes. It sounded so ridiculous that I had to try it when I was in Hamar. Norwegian skaters were like, “How did you just eat that?!” It was weird, but I didn’t mind it.

Shani’s Packing List

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

It just makes such a difference when you want to listen to music or watch a movie. You don’t need to listen to babies crying or someone snoring. 


I like to have an iPad for emails or to write something down about my skating. I also like to blog to keep up with my fans and friends.

Hand Sanitizer

The last thing you want is to get sick before a competition. Normally, you leave a week before. Sometimes, you are lucky and get 10 days. But you don’t want to spend any of those days trying to get over being sick.


I listen to all kinds of crazy music, and I will download a bunch of different music before a flight. I love hip-hop, but I’m liking more and more house music and ambient sounds.