Lorraine McNamara was 3 years old when she gingerly stepped onto the ice at a local skating rink while her mom was taking a lesson. Eleven years later, she is an accomplished ice dance competitor. She and partner Quinn Carpenter surfaced from a series of seven international Junior Grand Prix competitions this fall to finish among the top six teams in the world — bringing home medals for Team USA. McNamara/Carpenter captured a Silver medal in Riga, Latvia and a Gold medal in Minsk, Belarus — qualifying them for the 2013 Junior Grand Prix Finals in Fukuoka, Japan in December. They completed the year by winning a Bronze medal in Fukuoka.
Lorraine, who lives in Germantown, is the youngest of Anne and Tom McNamara’s six children. Her sister is a ballerina and all four of her older brothers are hockey players. She is a freshman this year at the Connelly School of the Holy Child in Potomac — the alma mater of both her mother and older sister. She trains at the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy under coaches Alexei Kiliakov, Elena Novak and Dmytri Ilin. “These young skaters are working very hard and their success at the international level is putting the Washington area on the map in ice dance,” said Kiliakov. Rachel and Michael Parsons, also from Montgomery County, finished 6th in the Grand Prix Finals in Fukuoka, Japan.
McNamara’s days leave little time for the usual teen-age pastimes. By 6 a.m., she is already at the Wheaton Ice Arena in a rigorous training session with Quinn and her coaches. She arrives at school at 9:30 a.m. and then leaves at 2:15 p.m. for more training until 8 p.m. On the way home, she begins the reading and homework required to keep up with her schedule at Holy Child.
“The teachers have been really wonderful about helping me understand the work I have missed, connecting with me via email or meeting with me when I have free time during the day,” said Lorraine. “They have really gone above and beyond to make it work for me.”
Since she has competed in seven international competitions this fall, she has been absent often. However, her teachers said that her self-discipline and commitment to balancing schoolwork along with her sport have made her an outstanding student who always strives to do her best.
This past fall, Lorraine and Quinn competed in Riga, Latvia; Mexico City, Mexico; Kosice, Slovakia; Gdansk, Poland; Minsk, Belarus; Ostrava, Czech Republic; and Tallinn, Estonia. Lorraine’s mom, Anne travels with her to these world destinations. “It’s very exciting to travel together and I am very blessed to be able to be her confidante and the ‘rock’ when the going gets tough,” she wrote in an email. “When we are in a new city, I am free to explore and scout out the top sites to take Lorraine and Quinn to see when they have free time. But I always attend the on-ice practices. I never tire of watching their beautiful presence on the ice.”
Anne McNamara has reason to be proud. “Her dad, Tom and I noticed long ago when she was very young and competed successfully against teams twice her age, that she had unlimited potential. We also saw the love and passion that her coaches instilled in her. She and Quinn skate from their hearts each and every day. For them, it’s not only the desire to compete, but it’s the day in and day out training that they embrace.”
“I love putting on a show for people,” said Lorraine. “I love ice dancing. It’s so creative and artistic. We help select the music and our coaches do the choreography and costuming. I never get tired of competing — or of practicing. It’s wonderful when you are trying to learn something new and all of a sudden, it clicks. I’ve been skating with Quinn for seven years and we get along great. It’s like having another brother.”
On Jan. 5, they will head to the US Nationals in Boston. If all goes as planned, they will next travel to Bulgaria in March for the Junior World Championships. Their goal is to continue their rigorous schedule of dedicated practice and training to prepare for the US Olympic Team competitions leading to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea.