Meet Lorraine McNamara
When you think of the figure skating world, you don't exactly think of positivity. When you think of Team USA ice dancer Lorraine McNamara, however, that's one of the first words that comes to mind! Lorraine skates for the pure love of skating, and the joy and freedom she brings to the ice is palpable. Her optimistic mindset and earnest sense of purpose have served her well in more ways than one: alongside Quinn Carpenter (her partner of over fourteen years), Lorraine has won the Junior Grand Prix Final, US Nationals, and Junior Worlds. Just off their second season at the senior level, these two Washington, DC natives also picked up two Challenger silvers, a Grand Prix bronze, and a National pewter medal, climbing the ranks of the very crowded US ice dance field. Even with all of her medals and accolades, I'd say that Lorraine's true success is in the way she never loses sight of why she started skating in the first place. Lorraine is proof that a true champion mindset comes from the heart!
Birthday: February 18th, 1999 (20 years old)
Born: Washington, DC, USA
Hometown: Germantown, Maryland, USA
Currently: Germantown, Maryland, USA
Country Represented: USA
Skating Club: Peninsula SC
Discipline: Ice Dance
Partner: Quinn Carpenter
Blades: MK Dance
Q: You started skating when you were three, so you have over seventeen years of experience on the ice - and it definitely shows! Can you tell us about how you got involved in figure skating and what made you fall in love with the sport?
A: My mom skated for exercise, so she would bring me with her to the rink while she practiced. Eventually, I began to get curious and before long, I was waddling out on the ice. My mom decided to put me in lessons, and I was so fortunate to end up with Elena Novak and Alexei Kiliakov, where my blossoming love of ice skating bloomed into an immense passion.
Q: As one of the first students at the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy (WISA) in Wheaton and Rockville, Maryland, you've been coached by owners Elena and Alexei for most of your life. How have they impacted the skater and person you've become, and what sets WISA apart from other skating schools?
A: I am beyond grateful to have grown up at WISA. Elena and Alexei have definitely helped me become the person I am today, both on and off the ice. They have taught me to persevere and follow my dreams, no matter the circumstances. WISA is so special because it really instills in its skaters all of the components that make a great athlete in our sport - with important qualities outside of skating. We are one big family, and the group aspect of the training is very unique and one-of-a-kind.
Lorraine, Quinn, Alexei, and Elena have been a team since day one!
Q: You started skating with Quinn Carpenter almost fifteen years ago, which is a super long time, especially in ice dance years. How has your partnership and friendship evolved since you first teamed up?
A: Quinn and I are so lucky to have started skating together so young and developed to where we are today. We truly know each other better than we know ourselves and have an incredible sense of trust in each other. He is my best friend, and I am so happy that I get to pursue my dream with him by my side.
Q: Being an elite figure skater means sacrificing a lot of "normal" childhood/teenage activities and events for the ice. Did you experience a lot of that growing up, and do you have any regrets about missed school dances or lack of free time or anything?
A: Growing up, I was not able to attend most birthday parties or school dances due to my skating schedule. However, I never really viewed this as “missing out.” Skating has always been my passion, and I have always considered myself very lucky to do what I love every day. I have gained so much from my sport and have experienced more than many people my age can say. I have traveled to over twenty countries and have been exposed to incredible opportunities. I would not change a single thing if I were given the chance!
Lorraine with training mate Rachel Parsons at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs
Q: After many years of strong programs and podium finishes, you and Quinn really solidified yourselves as serious contenders in the 2015-16 season, when you won literally everything - both of your Junior Grand Prixs, the JGP Final, Junior Nationals, and Junior Worlds!! How insane was that season for you, and how did you handle all of the pressure and expectations that come with that level of success?
A: The 2015-16 season was really amazing for Quinn and I, and it was so great to get to show everything that we worked so hard on, while still having such a fun time. That season definitely taught us how to handle the pressure that comes with being on top. Just as you need to learn from failures, it is essential to learn from success in order to become the best athlete you can be.
Q: You just completed your second senior season, but what was your first senior season like? What surprised you, what scared you, and what made you feel like you were on the right path?
A: Everyone always says that moving to senior is so different and a totally different ball game, but you can never really understand that until you experience it yourself. Of course it was intimidating to make that big jump up, but it was more exciting than anything. We had spent so many years in junior that we knew that we were so ready and prepared. We had the amazing opportunity of being on the ice with World and Olympic champions, and that gave us so much to learn from. The entire season was chock-full of learning experiences and unforgettable memories.
Lorraine and Quinn's first senior SD, exhibition, and FD
Q: I loved your programs this season, and I thought your "Porz Goret" free dance was really something special. What was the conceptual thought process behind that?
A: Quinn and I really loved both of our programs this past season. Our free dance was unlike any other type of music we had skated to before and presented a very exciting challenge. Most of what we have skated to in the past involved pre-defined characters, but with this piece of music, it was our job to really make it our own. We were able to discover an entirely new way of moving and expressing to music, and that was so much fun. Our free dance involved a lot of geometric shapes combined with fluid movements, which caught the eye.
Q: In the past, you've said that you focus on how much you love skating and performing rather than just dwelling on your levels and placements. That's such a healthy attitude to have, and I was just wondering if you could elaborate on that more?
A: Quinn and I have never focused on the medals and the results when we compete. Of course, we always aim for the best and work hard to make it to the top; however, that is not why we skate. We skate because we genuinely love stepping on the ice each and every time, and we want to share our passion for the sport with as many people as we can. In truly loving what we do, we are always going to be striving for greatness with it - no motivation can be greater than that which comes from your heart.
Whether they're nine or nineteen, Lorraine and Quinn's love for skating is always what drives them
Q: You're currently a college student, and I bet you have lots of other interests outside of skating. What is Lorraine McNamara like off the ice?
A: I really enjoy all forms of dance! Something that I really enjoy is going to random drop-in dance classes because it puts me out of my comfort zone of movement. I am so used to moving in a specific way, so when I have the chance to try out something different, it is such a blast. I am also an avid reader - to me, there is no better way to end a long day than curling up with my puppy and a good book. What most people might not know is that I come from a big family; I have four older brothers and an older sister, so I am used to a lot of commotion. My family is my greatest sense of support, and I am so grateful for them.
Q: Obviously everyone is already thinking about the next Winter Olympic Games, including you, I imagine! What do you think sets you and Quinn apart from the other top US ice dance teams, and what are your thoughts heading into the years leading up to Beijing 2022?
A: Quinn and I are so excited for the coming years. We are enjoying every moment of our journey and cannot wait to see where it will lead us. We have so much ahead of us and are ready to take it all head-on. We know we are special and different from the other teams because when we get on the ice, we are showing the audience a piece of our hearts. We want to continue to grow as performers and athletes to become the best versions of ourselves. If we continue on our path, then I am confident that the destination will be nothing short of spectacular.
Posing on the podium at the Grand Prix of Helsinki in November 2018 (Photo by Martti Kainulainen, AFP/Getty)
What was the best day of your life so far?
This is tough! I do not think I have one single best day, but rather, moments - days that are spent with those I love and give me a warm, fuzzy feeling in my chest are my most cherished days
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Best compliment you've ever received?
"You have the capacity to love the whole world."
If you were a pattern dance, which one would you be and why?
Tango Romantica because it involves so much strength, yet it requires finesse and elegance at the same time
The passion! The intensity! The... Romantica! (Photo by Scott W. Grau, Icon Sportswire/Getty)
If you could compete anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Washington, DC, because it’s my home!
Who do you go to for advice?
Anyone in my family
What are five things you can't live without?
My family, Quinn, my puppy (Tilly), coffee, and peanut butter!
Do you believe in fate?
I believe everything really does happen for a reason
Quote to live by?
"If you want the rainbow, you have to put up with the rain"
Lorraine and her puppy Tilly - aka the cutest lil furball ever!
KEEP UP WITH LORRAINE
Team Instagram: @mcnamaracarpenter
Team Twitter: @mcnamaracarpent
Team Facebook: Lorraine and Quinn
Follow Lorraine and Quinn to stay posted as they prepare for their third senior season and work hard toward their dreams!
All other photos courtesy of Lorraine McNamara