by Eileen Viglione
Financial analyst Lauren Gendzier, 27, became ISI’s latest Dance 10 skater when she passed the prestigious test during ISI’s recent Adult Championships at RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Orlando, Fla., her home rink.
The Freestyle 7 skater began ice dancing in her sophomore year of college to improve her synchro skating skills. At the time, she was sharing a spot on Team Excel Collegiate, an intercollegiate team that represented The Skating Club of Boston. “I really wanted to have my own spot in the program,” she says. “The coach recommended I start ice dancing to make it possible.”
Gendzier has always loved footwork and skating fast, so ice dancing was a natural fit for her.
“I think everyone should try it,” she says. “It teaches body awareness and helps with posture and skating skills even if a skater is focused on freestyle. It isn’t always easy to find a partner, but if you have someone in your rink that teaches dance, it’d definitely worth scheduling some lessons and giving it a try.”
What motivated her to achieve Dance 10?
“I wanted to be one of the few people able to say that they have passed ISI Dance 10,” Gendzier says. “I had already passed my gold dances in U.S. Figure Skating, so it is awesome to now be able to say that I have passed in both organizations. It means that I can move forward and accomplish other goals.”
The most challenging part of ice dancing is needing to think about posture, extensions, pointing your toes, doing the right steps and keeping in time to the music, all at the same time, she shares. “The most difficult part about the ISI Dance 10 test was taking it after a very long day of competing and volunteering at ISI Adult Championships. My legs felt like Jello, so I had to work a little harder to find my knee bend and rhythm.”
Gendzier began participating in the ISI Skating Program when she was 8 years old. Today, she not only continues to participate in ISI competitions but also teaches the program and serves as a judge and volunteer at events. She is looking forward to competing at ISI World Team Recreational Championships July 23-28 at New England Sports Center in Marlborough, Mass. Her coaches are Rob Rafuse and Lyn Gaglioti.
“I love how inclusive and supportive the ISI program is,” she says. “My favorite moment at the ISI Holiday Challenge was after a skater forgot her program half way through and ended up in tears. Instead of dismissing the skater and moving on with the competition, the judges called her over and asked her if she could pick up her program to music where she left off. When the skater said `no,’ they still didn’t give up on her. Instead, they offered her the opportunity to finish the program without music. The skater left the ice with a smile on her face and now that skater can be proud of what she accomplished and not fear competing in the future.”
Looking ahead, Gendzier would like to begin taking lessons in Figures and eventually pass Figures 10. She is also working on ISI Freestyle 8. Her U.S. Figure Skating credentials include: Novice Freestyle, Gold Moves and Gold + International Dance. She is a nine-time U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships competitor and a 2017 U.S. Synchronized Skating Championships bronze medalist in the adult division.