by Anne Calder
Galit Chait-Moracci was a competitive ice dancer; she is currently a coach, technical specialist, wife and mom.
She was born in Israel, but moved to New Jersey, USA at a young age. Her first ice-skating experience was a trip to the outdoor rink at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
“My parents told me that I went straight to the middle even though I didn’t know how to skate,” Chait-Moracci explained. “Right after that I started group [freestyle] lessons at the old Sky Rink in Manhattan [NYC]. Many years later, we performed at Rockefeller Center on the Today Show.”
Russian coach Natalia Dubova introduced her to ice dancing several years later during a visit to Russia with her father, an international businessman.
“My father took me to Russia to try out with a partner and to try Ice Dancing,” Chait-Moracci said. “From the first second, I knew that’s what I wanted to do! I loved to dance and perform, and although it wasn’t an easy transition, my parents didn’t give up on me, and they helped me persevere to reach my dreams.”
Chait-Moracci partnered with Maxim Sovostianov. They trained with Dubova in Russia and Lake Placid, New York USA before competing at two US Nationals – 1993 and 1994. The latter was at Detroit, where they finished sixth.
“That was a great accomplishment, but my dream was to compete in the Olympics,” Chait-Moracci noted.
The first step toward making that dream come true came in March when she represented her birth country (Israel) at the 1994 World Championships in Chiba, Japan.
The next year Chait-Moracci began a new partnership with Sergei Sakhnovsky representing Israel.
The couple trained with many great ice dance coaches, and each of them taught something important. Since they were all from the Russian schools, the basic technique was similar, but their methods and teaching styles were so different.
“Natalia Dubova was our first coach, and from her I learned about repetition and the importance of exercises for muscle memory,” Chait-Moracci said. “From Natalia Linichuck, I learned hard work and from Sasha Zhulin how to stay calm while under pressure. Tatiana Tarosova taught me to skate from within – to leave your heart and soul on the ice every time you skate.”
Chait-Moracci built some fond memories over her decade-long skating career. Carrying the Israeli flag into the Salt Lake City [USA} and Torino [ITA] stadiums were very special moments.
“It was such an honor to have been chosen to be the Israeli flag bearer in two Olympic games,” the proud athlete said. “The feelings and emotions you have when your country’s name is being called, and you’re leading your team into the stadium, was truly amazing. I was more worried about carrying the flag than about competing in the next few days.”
Her competitive resume includes three Olympic Games, eleven World Championships, the Grand Prix Series and Grand Prix Final.
“I am very proud that I was able to accomplish all these,” Galit-Moracci said. “Winning the bronze medal in the 2002 World Championships was also a great accomplishment. But my fondest ice dance memory is competing in my first Olympics in Nagano, Japan . I remember seeing the Olympic Rings on the ice. It was an amazing feeling to have fulfilled my dream.”
Galit Chait met Francesco Moracci at the 2006 Olympic Games in Torino, Italy, where he was part of the security detail for the Israeli team. They married in 2008.
“We had two wedding ceremonies, so that all of our friends and family could attend – one in New Jersey and one in Florence, Italy.”
The Chait-Moracci family has grown to include three children – Raffaella (9), Gabriella (8) and Matteo (3 1/2) – and a Morkie named Ciccio.
“Raffaella and Gabriella love to skate,” Chait-Moracci noted. “I don’t train them because I thought it would be better for our relationship moving forward. They each have their own coach. I help out when asked.
“I love to watch them grow as athletes, and see how much they get from the sport by learning time management, patience, and that you have to work hard to get results.”
Matteo just started skating – he also takes tennis lessons and does taekwondo.
Chait-Moracci explained how difficult it was when she had to leave her children and go to her coaching job or travel to a competition.
“It wasn’t easy to leave for work in the morning when the kids were younger, but my mom said that they will learn from me; they will understand that I am trying to accomplish something.”
“Every time I need to leave for competition, it is difficult – you always wonder or worry if you are missing something at home. I am so grateful for Facetime!”
“The most difficult time I had was when Raffa was an infant – I had to leave for the Olympics when she was just two months old,” Chait-Moracci said. “That was my shortest stay at any Olympics – I just wanted to get home to my baby.”
In today’s world, Chait-Moracci’s multi-tasking is not unusual. She trains her own students, is the Israeli Team Coach and is also an ISU Technical Specialist. She is essentially on call 24-7.
“In my coaching career I have tried to find my own way – every athlete is different. You need to know your students and do what’s best for them individually,” Chait-Moracci said.
“I’ve known and worked with my athletes for a long time – they are like family,” she continued. “I train them on the ice, and try to teach them life skills. My work doesn’t end when I get off the ice or leave the rink. I am always available to them.”
A Technical Specialist does a lot of international travel. At first, she thought it would help with her coaching, but now it is something she loves to do.
“I really enjoy being part of the ice dance panels and it’s also a huge honor to be selected for events and be a part of the ISU,” Chait-Moracci said.
The Israeli Team Coach is tantamount to being a “Baseball General Manager” to the coaches, choreographers, costume designers, music selectors, and dance instructors – all the professionals who assist the athletes.
In order for Chait-Moracci to perform her outside jobs and coordinate everyone’s daily activities, time management is a must for the family.
“It’s not an easy task, but finding a balance is essential for your happiness…and sanity,” Chait-Moracci said. “I’m very fortunate to have a great support system – my husband, my parents, my athletes – everybody helps out. We always joke and say that we have an entourage.”
It’s not all work and no play the family of five + a dog. They love to go to the beach, play tennis, see Broadway shows, but must of all spend time together. Galit and Francesco ran the New York City Marathon twice!
Chait-Moracci’s final thoughts included a few suggestions for women who want to be active in the skating world and also have a family.
“Make time for yourself and family first – it will give you more energy to work with your students. There are so many different ways to stay involved in skating and some ways take up less time than others. It’s so important to balance whatever you do with the needs of your family.”