Danielle and Alexander Gamelin (see below) are 16-year-old brother and sister twins who are the 2009 U.S. National Intermediate ice dancing champions. The Intermediate and Juvenile titles were determined in Lake Placid, New York, back in December 2008 at the U.S. Junior Figure Skating Championships. I had a chance to watch their free dance to King Arthur at Rockefeller Rink in New York City a few months ago. Danielle and Alexander were there courtesy of Ice Theatre of New York, an organization that promotes ice skating as a theatrical artform, and by the way, are also available for corporate parties, events, commercials, you name it. So on that evening, a company decided to hold their holiday party at the rink and Ice Theatre and the Gamelins, as well as Sinead and John Kerr (six-time British ice dancing champions), and others, entertained the crowd with performances.
I had a nice conversation with the twins' mother, Donna, who gave me more insight into the expensive world of competitive figure skating. Danielle and Alex train in Long Island with Alexander Esman, a former Ukrainian ice dance champion, and twice a week, they travel to New Jersey to work with Evgeny Platov (two-time Olympic medalist with Oksana "Pasha" Grishuk in ice dancing). Due to this hectic schedule, the twins take correspondence courses through the Laurel Springs School. I was surprised to learn that it takes at least $80,000 per year to support their skating dreams and it only goes higher as they move up the ranks! And Donna also noted that because they are a brother-sister team, this amount falls squarely on one family. Typically, each family of an ice dancer (or pairs skater) would share half of the costs. So for Danielle and Alex, this makes the need for external support in the form of "angel benefactors," sponsors or contributors that much more critical to offset some of the costs.
What does the rest of the year look like for the dynamic duo? In addition to resuming their studies at the Laurel Springs School as sophomores, they'll begin to train as novice ice dancers in preparation to qualify for the 2010 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Spokane, Washington in January 2010. Where ever skating takes them, Donna and husband Lee will be right there to support Danielle and Alex's dreams as best and as much as possible!