April 2010

Year to remember
by Lauren Magliola

When I heard that the 2010 World Synchronized Skating Championships were coming to Colorado Springs, Colo., my first reaction was probably the opposite of most in the American skating community. I was sad. Becoming a member of Team USA was the realization of a lifelong dream, as was competing in three World Championships as a member of the Miami University senior team. I knew, however, that my time competing at the senior level would end just a year short of being able to compete for a place on that special 2010 World team, with my graduation in May 2009. I was annoyed by my seemingly horrible timing.

I'm standing in front of a welcome sign at the 2009 World Synchronized Skating Championships in Zagreb, Croatia.
In reality, though, my timing could not have been better. As graduation approached, the "So what are you going to do next year?" question inevitably became more frequent, and I didn't have much of an answer. My life for the last 13 years had been focused on achieving goals related to school and skating, and I was about to lose both at the same time. It was hard to come up with a new direction while still trying to savor the last bittersweet moments of my collegiate and athletic careers.

Just minutes after my final exhibition performance as a Miami skater, I learned about an opportunity that would allow me to not only answer the question of what I would be doing in the upcoming year, but would keep me involved in the sport I was so sad to be leaving. U.S. Figure Skating had just posted a job opening for an intern who would help plan and run the World Synchronized Skating Championships in Colorado Springs. The day before graduation, just an hour after completing my last final, I found out that I had been chosen for the internship. I was moving to Colorado!

It took me 30 hours to drive to Colorado Springs from my home in Connecticut. Once I arrived, I had many of the same feelings as in my first days at Miami University. I was excited but nervous and a little homesick, this time for both Connecticut and Ohio. Knowing I had survived those first hard days away from home freshmen year and had grown to love Miami as my second home helped me know I could survive this new place as well.

Since that first anxious day, I've had countless amazing experiences in Colorado. I communicate with ticket holders, team managers, coaches and federation representatives from around the world. Although I have been a competitor, I'm only now learning how much work happened behind the scenes at those events just to assure that nothing hindered my ability to skate my best.

I am now part of that planning process. Our goal is to make sure everyone who attends this event will fondly remember their time in Colorado Springs, in the same way that I will always remember the times I've been lucky enough to attend past World Synchronized Championships as a competitor and a spectator. This means planning details as small as when coffee will be available at the official hotel and as large as what time teams will enter the ice to compete for a world title. I spend my days entering ticket orders, communicating information from the ISU to competing teams, working with the official hotels to make sure the needs of competitors and officials are met, scheduling extra practices for teams arriving early, and answering questions about the competition, Colorado Springs and everything in between.

I loved hanging out with my Denver Synchronicity teammates at the 2009 Dr. Richard Porter Synchronized Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich.
I've also gotten the chance to work with incredible people in almost every department of U.S. Figure Skating. I've helped organize forms for Skate America competitors and flight information for officials traveling to the U.S. Championships in Spokane, Wash. I've helped Kelly Hodge, director of synchronized skating, with many of the programs designed to develop our U.S. skaters so that they can someday have their own World Championships moment. I've also been involved with organizing the synchronized skating content that is found in SKATING magazine by helping my fellow DREAM program members with the schedule for our articles, as well as getting the opportunity to write articles myself.

Living in Colorado Springs has given me the chance to have many remarkable experiences outside the office. After spending four years in Ohio, waking up to an incredible view of Pikes Peak is still surreal to me, and I try to enjoy the outdoor culture of Colorado Springs as much as possible. I've also been adopted by a wonderful group of interns who live at the Olympic Training Center (thanks to two of my co-interns at U.S. Figure Skating). As a part of this group, I've seen and done things I never thought I would, including learning how to fence and play team handball from former Olympians.

Despite my busy work schedule, I've been able to stay involved in competitive skating. I spend Monday nights driving to Denver so I can perform with the great skaters of the Denver Synchronicity adult team. I've been able to continue enjoying my favorite part of skating: working toward a goal with a group of skaters who love to be on the ice as much as I do.

Looking back, I can't believe how incredible my timing turned out to be. Nine years ago, when I came to Colorado Springs for my first U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships, I swore one day I would live here. I never quite knew how I would get here and I often can't believe I am, especially doing a job it seems I've unknowingly prepared for my entire life. Beyond the knowledge I gained as a skater about the sport itself, my time as a student-athlete taught me how to work with teammates toward an ultimate goal, how to deal with high stress situations and how to do 10 things at once.

Using these skills to make sure athletes who are exactly where I was only a year ago have the best World Championships possible makes me feel like I am giving back to the sport that has given me so much, including the incredible internship experience I'm living right now. I can't put into words how excited I am for the world's best teams to descend on my new home and, as I've signed many an e-mail over the last six months, I literally can't wait to welcome you to Colorado Springs.