Magazine Feature / People

Figure skating pair sacrifice for a life on the ice

Lisa Moore and Justin Gaumond compare their relationship to a marriage. They spend more time with each other than anyone else, they are completely committed and they have a trust that’s unmatched — which is a must considering Gaumond often flings and flips Moore up in the air while gliding across a sheet of ice.

Moore, a 19-year-old current DU student, and Gaumond, a DU alum, make up a successful figure skating pair that has been together for five years. They partnered when Gaumond was studying at DU and Moore was a high-schooler in Fort Collins, Colo.

“Pairs has a sense of danger to it that is absent in the other disciplines,” says Gaumond (BA theater ’07). Plus, it means you aren’t alone on the ice, he adds.

“We have to see each other on the ice every day, travel to competitions and practices often and make decisions as a team,” says Moore, a sophomore biology major from Fort Collins, Colo. “We are good friends on and off the ice, and we compliment each other nicely as a team.”

And like most teams, they must agree on the things that will lead to success. For instance, they both agree skating is their first priority even if it means making sacrifices to achieve their goals.

Gaumond, 24, has to hold a series of part-time jobs — including as a skating instructor and security guard — to arrange his hours around ice time. A full-time job is out of the question. “It’s a sacrifice, but it’s also my choice,” he explains.

For Moore, it means not being able to take advantage of DU’s study abroad program and juggling skating and school.

Moore reiterates that being a full-time student — and graduating — is something she won’t sacrifice. Fittingly, she is interested in working in the area of sports sciences, probably in nutrition or in sports therapy after graduation.

Balance between school and skating is something Moore handles well, says her coach Heidi Thibert.

“Lisa works extremely hard at both her academic life and her athletic life, and for this alone, she has my respect as her coach,” Thibert says. “Lisa is committed to balancing her effort and being the best that she can be in both her worlds too. I think the fact that she has the challenge of both school and skating allows her to put both in perspective.”

The skating world comes with a rigorous training schedule: Two-and-a-half-hour training sessions six days a week, off-the-ice workouts several times a week with a personal trainer to keep in shape and prevent injury, and on-their-own workouts too. They travel to Colorado Springs and Fort Collins throughout the week to practice with different coaches (they have three).

“It’s a packed schedule, but we do what we have to in order to make skating our priority,” Moore says.

It’s what they have to do to compete at the highest level of their sport, she explains. The pair recently competed in their fifth U.S. National Figure Skating Competition — the highest competition level besides the Olympics and the World Championships. This was their second year competing at the Olympic-qualifying level.

“It always feels like a sense of accomplishment just to make it to the competition,” Moore says. This year was particularly exciting because 2010 is an Olympic year, she explains.

Though the pair didn’t qualify for the Olympics, they are proud of their run in the competition, which ended Jan. 16 in Spokane, Wash.

During a competition, a pairs team must complete a short and a long program. For their short program on Jan. 15, the pair skated to “Singin’ in the Rain” and placed 15th out of 16 teams. In the long program, they skated to a 1920s piece from the musical “No No Nanette” and placed 13th. Overall, they finished 15th in the competition.

“Each year I have been at the competition is a new and exciting experience, and it helps Justin and I grow as a team to become stronger and more experienced athletes,” Moore says. “And with each year, we mature as a team. This year, I feel we have matured to a higher level than ever before, and I feel confident that we can only improve from here on.”

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