Gee dazzles with synchronized figure skating team


Ashley Boak

Lauren Gee glides across the ice during her skating practice.

Skates glide across the ice as senior Lauren Gee moves through her long program, a feeling she’s been familiar with since the age of five. Her mother had skated as a child and felt it was a fun thing to enroll Gee and her sisters in. Now, 13 years later, she hopes that people will begin to recognize ice skating as the demanding sport it is.

“I just wish that people understood it more as a sport. It’s sort of in the lines of dance. It’s definitely considered a sport within the community, but then when you step outside of the community there’s definitely some skepticism [as to] if it’s actually like a real sport or not,” Gee says.

Gee’s training schedule changes on a weekly basis, with a minimum of four practices, each a few hours long every week. Gee practices before school and occasionally after school too. She is no longer an individual skater, opting to instead join the Downer’s Grove Dazzler’s synchronized skating team.

“I consistently struggle with being able to keep up with the growing synchro community. Every year, each coach for each team makes new ideas of what to add to each program. You have to be constantly competing with the other team’s ideas to make your program the best program,” Gee said.

Starting in November, Gee and her teammates memorize and perfect a program created by their coaches. They then perform the same program at each of their competitions. National Competitions begin between the end of December and the beginning of January.

Kristine Zieman began as one of Gee’s coaches on the Dazzler’s team. She now works as Gee’s personal coach, focusing on Gee’s individual skills rather than the entire team’s.

“Lauren does not give up. She will practice skills over and over again until they are right. She listens to feedback and will use that feedback to make herself the best skater she can be,” Zieman says.

Senior Alina Brindza, a former teammate of Gee, concurs that Gee is persistent in perfecting her skills. In their time together as skaters for the Dazzler’s, Brindza remembers Gee as diligent in her effort to fix any faults in her skills.

“She’s very good at honing in on one of her skills that she needs to work on. If our coach says ‘Lauren you need to do this’, she’ll come back the next week and make sure it’s not an issue again. Nobody would even be able to tell that it was an issue in the first place,” Brindza says.

For Gee, the most difficult skills include flexibility and ‘step sequences’, a skill that is unique to the sport of ice skating.

“[With] step sequences, you have to ride certain edges of your blade. There’s an inside and an outside edge to the blade, and being able to ride each edge and turn at the right spot in the right direction can be kind of tricky and confusing,” Gee said.

Despite this, Brindza states that Gee’s struggles do not have repercussions within the team.

“As a teammate she’s amazing. She’s a really hard worker, and she’s really mellow when she’s competing and skating. She never shows her nerves, she never gets angry at somebody. She performs well,” Brindza says.

Zieman agrees that Gee is not only committed to her own success, but to her teammates as well.

“She wants everyone to do the best they can and will help them achieve their goals. Lauren is very loyal to her team and teammates. This loyalty allows her to build strong relationships within the team and these relationships help the team bond both on and off the ice,” Zieman said.

Gee recognizes that her team is her ‘biggest support system’, and values the friendships that stay with her both on and off the ice.

“Whenever I have a problem with skating or outside of skating, they will always be there for me,” Gee said.

Brindza agrees, comparing her bond with Gee to something deeper than friendship.

“I can come to her with anything and she’s just one of those people that is always caring, that always cares about what you have to say. She makes me feel basically like she’s my sister. She’s basically family to me,” Brindza says.

A strong bond with her teammates helps Gee stay motivated to keep improving. Gee hopes that people will understand that ice skating is a constant shift from falling to getting up, not only physically, but emotionally.

“I think one of the biggest misconceptions is that once you practice enough, you stop falling. I fall all the time, literally, all over the place. My coach’s favorite phrase is ‘if you’re not falling you’re not trying’. Falling never stops, it’s always a huge part of skating,” Gee says.