Article by Daphne Backman | Photos by Katie Weigel and Robin Ritoss
The third article in our series on siblings in skating features U.S. ice dancers Lauren Leonesio, 17, and her brother Logan, 14. While many siblings compete as teams, Lauren and Logan each have separate partners.
Lauren Leonesio started skating at four years old and competed in singles through the novice level. At age 13, she gave up singles and started competing in ice dancing.
“I took ice dance to improve my singles skating and fell in love with it,” Lauren said. “I also passed my senior free skate and senior Moves in the Field.”
At 17, she has qualified for U.S. Nationals twice at the novice level, finishing 11th in 2012 with former partner Dustin Perini and ninth in 2013 with Quinn Chambers. For the 2013-14 season, Leonesio & Chambers have moved up to the junior level. They recently competed at the Pikes Peak Classic, where they won the silver medal in the short dance and bronze in the free.
Logan’s skating career started in a learn-to-skate program when he was five years old, but he switched to ice dancing when he was 11.
“I tried pairs, but I didn’t like it so I switched to dance when we moved for Lauren’s first partnership,” Logan said.
Logan’s partnership with Cassidy Klopstock also brought him to national-level competition twice. They picked up an eighth-place finish at the juvenile level in 2012 and were sixth at the intermediate level in 2013. This season, Leonesio is competing on the intermediate level with new partner, Jordyn Li. They also won a bronze medal last month at Pikes Peak.
While both siblings qualified for their respective national competitions in 2012, they were held at different times. Last year, though, all five levels of U.S. national competition were held the same week, so the Leonesio family got to experience the trip together.
Both siblings pursue their schooling through Laurel Springs Online Academy and skate six days per week at the Colorado Ice Dance Academy under coach Tiffany Hyden-Dombeck. To make transportation easier during the school year, their family tries to make sure that the siblings are at the rink at the same time, despite skating at different levels. Lauren typically skates four sessions per day in the mornings with off-ice strength training three times per week. Since she wants to competitive in the tough junior field in the United States, she takes additional core classes, yoga, and ballroom lessons in the afternoons. Logan has three sessions in the mornings with additional off-ice work in the afternoons.
Though the skating schedule can be hectic for their family, the Leonesios see a lot of benefits in having two kids in skating. Despite a three-year age gap, Lauren and Logan have the same circle of friends, and they both have developed a mature level of commitment to the sport.
“Sharing the experiences of ice dance as a family and traveling to all the competitions together as a family is fun,” Lauren said.
“It’s a lot of fun cheering each other on and supporting one another, without the pressure of competing against one another,” Logan added.
Because of their age difference and current levels, the siblings would likely have to both be at the senior level before they would face each other in competition. It could happen someday, but the scenario is a long way off.
Like most brothers and sisters, the two differ on some subjects. Lauren prefers the spins and twizzles, while lifts are Logan’s favorite elements. On the subject of why they chose ice dance, they each have a different answer.
“I am an artist, so I love the artistry of ice dance,” Lauren said. “It’s athletic and a form of art-like ballet. I love expressing myself through ice dance.”
“I like skating with a partner and forming a friendship that can be shared on the ice,” Logan said.
They do, however, have similar favorite skating memories.
“My favorite memories are my first Nationals as a novice dancer in San Jose, Calif., and also my second U.S. Nationals experience with Logan in Omaha last year,” Lauren said.
“Winning Pacific Coast Sectionals as a juvenile dancer in 2012 and attending 2013 U.S. Nationals last year in Omaha are my favorites,” Logan added.
Both siblings will compete at the U.S. Pacific Coast Sectional Championships, November 19-23 in Oakland, Calif., where they will attempt to qualify for their third national championships. Once again, all five levels will compete at the same U.S. Championships this season, to be held in Boston in January 2014.