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IMing and ice dancing

January 13th, 2004 · 1 Comment

Ted’s already blogged about the U.S. national figure skating championships this weekend. To me the best story of the competition came from a skater who didn’t medal. She didn’t even complete all her events. But the fact that she and her partner skated at all at nationals was an event in itself, and the Internet played a part in the story of their return to the ice.

Naomi Lang and her partner Peter Tchernyshev had won five national titles in ice dancing together. They competed in the 2002 Olympics (Naomi was the first Native American woman to participate in the Winter Olympic Games) and had planned for 2006. But last spring she decided to stop….

Her self-esteem hurting and her left foot in pain, Lang decided after the world championships last spring that her competitive days were over.

It was only in the weeks that followed that she came to realize how much she was missed.

“The biggest thing was the website created by our fans,” Lang said. “It was really, really touching. The kind letters and notes, all the e-mails … so many fans said they hoped we would dance again. They wanted us to compete again. There were so many touching things written, especially to me. It was so nice to have that support, to feel so appreciated.”

Six months after deciding not to compete anymore, Lang changed her mind in October. This week in Atlanta, Lang and Tchernyshev will try to win their sixth consecutive national championship.

“We never really stopped skating,” Lang said. “I skated by myself or with Peter sometimes. We never did stop completely. I just knew I didn’t want to compete anymore.”

Lang and Tchernyshev were both on the Internet when she sent him an instant message with the news that she wanted to return.

“What do we do about this season?” Lang said.

Tchernyshev was shocked. His typing skills not quite as adept as his skating, he messaged Lang back, “Hold on. Let me call you.”

They talked a long time and shortly after resumed their competitive training with coaches Nikoli Morozov and Shae-Lynn Bourne at the Connecticut International Skating Center.

“I was kind of surprised,” said Tchernyshev, 32. “I thought we were done competing. There was a time of doubt for me. No matter who talked to Naomi – me, our coach, her friends, her boyfriend, her mother – she was pretty determined. No one could change her decision….

The quote above came from an article that appeared in the January 4 Hartford Courant, the week before nationals.

So what happened at nationals in Atlanta for Lang and Tchernyshev?
From the Atlanta Constitution:

The five-time national champions were forced to withdraw from the State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Championships because an old ankle injury had become too painful for Lang to skate on it.

But Naomi is still planning to get surgery and skate again.

…The withdrawal had a particularly painful twist: Lang said the bad ankle felt fine when she quit competitive skating last summer. It was her feelings that were hurt.

She felt overshadowed by her ice dancing partner, Peter Tchernyshev, and overlooked by international judges who she said didn’t judge them fairly….

But a Web site dedicated to the couple — “mostly me, which really touched me because it’s never happened to me before,– Lang said — inspired her to re-enter the fray. Fans coaxed her with the words to Lee Ann Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance.”

“It was really touching to see how many people wanted us to stay in and compete,” she said. “I was thinking, ‘Do I have to stop skating because I get underscored or just because I feel unappreciated?’ I love to skate.”

Now she just has to take care of her ankle.

What a web site can do…..and a little IMing too….

Tags: news

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 medmusings // Jan 14, 2004 at 8:46 am

    a web site & a little IMing gets a skater back on her feet

    Julie (as well as her hubby Ted) blogs about competitive skating a lot, and in reviewing the nationals mentions how “a web site… and a little IMing” got Naomi Lang and her partner Peter Tchernyshev back on the ice after an ankle injury forced her ear…