Ice Network

Semanick relishing time spent as mother, coach

1988 Olympic ice dancer now guiding skaters at University of Delaware
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Suzy Semanick-Schurman values the time she spends with daughters Lauren (second from left) and McKenzie, as well as her husband, M.F. -Courtesy of Suzy Semanick-Schurman

Two-time U.S. ice dance champion and Olympian Suzy Semanick-Schurman spent most of her training life in Delaware. After retiring from competitive skating and becoming a coach, she lived in California for more than a decade. In 2008, she moved back to Delaware with her husband and two daughters.

Currently on staff at the University of Delaware, she coaches ice dance, freestyle and moves in the field, and also does choreography. Semanick-Schurman said she loves teaching and is deeply grateful for the bevy of options she has at her disposal.

"In dance, it's not just one thing," she said. "You're always on the phone or doing something. There are so many aspects to it."

Being in the midst of an Olympic season brings back a flood of memories for Semanick-Schurman. The 1988 Olympic campaign was a stressful time for her, as her partner, Scott Gregory, was dealing with some serious physical issues, including a ruptured disc in his back suffered at an international competition in the fall of 1987.

"The hardest thing was not being able to train as hard as you wanted to," Semanick-Schurman said. "The one thing you can usually rely on when you're standing in that spot in the middle of the ice waiting for your music to begin is your training. Scott and I would always say, 'Let's do this like we've done a thousand other times.' Then let yourself go into automatic, relax and enjoy the performance.

"We had to restrategize," she added. "I did my own run-throughs and worked out extra hard. Scott and I would do a lot of visualization and watch videos of our performances so our muscles had the feeling of a run-through."

The hard work, training and focus paid off when they walked into the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic Winter Games in Calgary.

"It was overwhelming and beautiful," she said. "Everything runs through your mind, how much your parents sacrificed."

In those days, Olympic ice dance competition involved three compulsory dances, an original dance and a free dance. There also was far less parity in the sport than there is today.

"When I skated, Russia was the leader," Semanick-Schurman noted. "Now, there's talent everywhere. The judges aren't closing their eyes and pre-marking or pre-placing before you even step on the ice. I appreciate it."

Semanick-Schurman and Gregory finished a very respectable sixth in Calgary, but it was the experience of being there, with the eyes of the world watching them, that she treasures the most.

"When I stepped on the ice and saw the Olympic rings and felt the energy in the air, it was just amazing," Semanick-Schurman said.

Semanick-Schurman has been married to her husband, former NHL player M.F. Schurman, for 22 years. Their daughter McKenzie, 18, ice danced for a while, qualifying for the U.S. championships in juvenile, and now plays on the University of Delaware's club hockey team. Their other daughter, Lauren, 12, is a softball player and does equestrian.

Semanick-Schurman and Gregory see each other almost every day at the rink; they even share some students. She's eager to watch the upcoming Winter Games in PyeongChang, and looks forward to reminiscing about her time as an Olympian once again.

"It's wonderful because I know exactly what is going on," she said. "I still have my Olympic T-shirt, and my 18-year-old wears it at school. I love it."