Washington-area ice dancers earn first Grand Prix medal
In their second year competing in the elite ranks of international figure skating, Washington-area ice dancers Lorraine McNamara and Quinn Carpenter earned their first Grand Prix medal Saturday, taking bronze at the Helsinki Grand Prix of Figure Skating.
The achievement, coming three years and three months before the 2022 Beijing Olympics, means they are on track for a goal and dream they have shared since childhood — representing the United States at a Winter Games.
But their focus, Carpenter said in a telephone interview from Helsinki, will continue to be on making steady, incremental improvement under their coaches at the Wheaton Ice Skating Arena and in the upcoming Grand Prix in Innsbruck, Austria.
“It’s something to keep in the back of our minds,” Carpenter, 22, said of the 2022 Olympics, noting that he and McNamara were alternates at the 2018 Pyeong-Chang Games. “But it’s not something we’re focused on at this moment. We’re just working to grow as much as possible as skaters and as a team.”
The on-ice partnership of the 19-year-old McNamara, who was born in Washington, and Carpenter, who is a Bethesda native, is unusual in its longevity and stability. They teamed up more than a decade ago, in 2005, when they were 6 and 9, respectively.
“Today and every day, it helps us,” McNamara said. “We’re so connected. We know each other so well — sometimes better than we know ourselves. We know the ins and outs of it. How to work together at all times.”
They’re also unusual in having the same coaches — former Russian ice dancing champions Alexei Kiliakov and Elena Novak — all those years together.
“We are so, so lucky to have started with them right from the beginning and continue to be with them,” said McNamara, whose mother and sister flew to Finland for the Grand Prix. “In my opinion, it’s the best training group we could ask for.”
The duo made their Grand Prix debut last season, after advancing from the junior ranks, and made strides but didn’t finish atop the podium.
After placing third in the short dance at Helsinki, McNamara and Carpenter held their poise and composure in Saturday’s free dance, set to Porz Goret by Yann Tiersen, earning positive grades of execution on every element and three Level 4 lifts to earn 105.26 points. That brought their overall score to 176.66 — good enough for the bronze medal.
Though thrilled with the achievement, McNamara noted that the couple didn’t “skate for medals,” explaining, “We skate for ourselves and to show our improvement.”
Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin won the title, while Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri took silver.
Reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia won the women’s event. Fellow Russian Stanislava Konstantinova took silver, and Japan’s Kaori Sakamoto captured bronze.
The men’s competition concludes the Grand Prix on Sunday.