But Quinn Carpenter, a mechanical engineering major, was pretty sure he knew what his topic would be: the world of competitive ice dancing. Carpenter is a bit of an expert on the topic. He is the 2016 World Junior Ice dancing champion with partner Lorraine McNamara.
It turns out Carpenter isn’t the only world-class skater on campus. Michael Parsons, a biology major who skates with his younger sister, Rachel, won the 2016 World Junior Ice dancing silver medal. Carpenter and Parsons train and compete with each other, and are very good friends.
“Unlike other sports, skating is not like you against the other person. When you do your program for the judges, you are not doing it with the other teams on the ice. It’s you and the judges. So we can keep our friendly relationship and still compete as hard as we possibly can,” says Parsons.
Getting ready for those competitions requires discipline. The two joke that they consider anything after 6 a.m. sleeping in. Some days they are up as early as 4:30 a.m. for the first skating practice of the day. After classes and homework—and hopefully a nap—they are back on the ice. They also take ballet and other dance classes and work out off the ice to increase strength and endurance six days a week.
“We get up every morning and push ourselves because we really love skating. The daily grind makes us successful and rewards us in the end,” Carpenter says.
Looking to the future, the skaters are thinking about a transition to the senior level of skating. And then? “The Olympics is definitely a big dream of ours,” Parsons says.
Photo credit: Robin Ritoss