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Olympian, daughter each find their niche

The success of Julie Lynn Holmes Newman and Nicole Newman

Nicole Newman (center) with other members of the Dartmouth Figure Skating team and coach and choreographer Loren McGean (left).
Nicole Newman (center) with other members of the Dartmouth Figure Skating team and coach and choreographer Loren McGean (left). (courtesy Dartmouth Figure Skating Club )

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(08/21/2008) - Accomplished in compulsory figures and possessing a beautiful line in free skating, Julie Lynn Holmes Newman achieved a lot in her amateur career, including two world medals, four U.S. silver medals and a fourth-place finish at the 1972 Winter Olympics. After an enjoyable pro career that included three years with Ice Capades and a couple of seasons as a Donny & Marie "ice angel," she settled into married life in San Diego with attorney Greg Newman.

Knowing the joys, challenges and frustrations of the sport that consumed much of her life, Newman was a touch concerned when her eldest child, daughter Nicole, expressed a decided interest in figure skating.

"I wasn't pushing her at all," says Holmes Newman. "If anything, I probably wouldn't have gone down that road." She acquainted Nicole with numerous activities, just as her grandmother had done with her when she was growing up. But like mother, like daughter -- Nicole found her great love.

Nicole skated recreationally for several years and did some ISI competitions. "Dressed her real cute," says Newman. Then one of Newman's fellow coaches was in desperate need of a last-minute replacement for a tot synchro team.

"She attended that synchro competition and that started it," Newman says. After that, Nicole decided to skate competitively. Although she pursued singles, the team aspect of synchro skating stuck with her and would ultimately lead to her greatest success.

As a juvenile and intermediate, Nicole asked her mother to be her coach. "I looked at it as an opportunity to have this wonderful skater and knowledgeable coach, who happened to be my mom, help me to become a great skater," she says. "She used everything she knew to help me improve my skating. I was very lucky to have my mom as a figure skating coach."

At 12, she made it to Junior Olympics. Newman recalls that her daughter was the only competitor in her division who went to school full-time. That sort of sounded a bell that elite competition wasn't really for her.

High school brought the chance to take a serious look at things. "My mom and I sat down and I made the decision that I didn't want to continue skating competitively. It was important to me to get a good education and do other sports," says Nicole, who never stopped skating, but channeled her competitive energies into track and field and basketball.

Skating glided back into the forefront when she needed to decide where she wanted to go to college. "When I looked at colleges, I was aware there were several figure skating teams. I thought Dartmouth (a prestigious Ivy League institution in New Hampshire) was perfect for me," says Nicole. "I loved the team aspect of figure skating, which clearly for most of my life was very individualized."

Nicole spent four years on the Dartmouth Figure Skating Team, which won the U.S. National Intercollegiate Skating Team Championships every year. By carving her own path in the sport, Nicole found success that exceeded even her own expectations.

"It was very competitive and a great way to meet other skaters going to college from across the United States," Nicole says. "My mom loved coming to watch me skate."

Mother and daughter bear a striking resemblance, so Newman finds it especially interesting to watch Nicole skate. "She's more athletic," says Newman. "When she was younger, people would say, 'It's like seeing you out there.' She had her own style that she brought to it.

"Watching the collegiate competitions was a whole new experience," she adds. "It was a side of skating I'd never seen or really knew about. Now I can pass the word onto my students. You're out there skating for yourself and you do your best, but you also earn points for the team. I find it so healthy."

This past May, Nicole Newman, 22, graduated from Dartmouth with a biochemistry major. She is now working for Cancer Treatment Centers of America. She is a management fellow based in Chicago, which fits well with her desire to try living in varied parts of the U.S.

She's put skating on hold for a few months, but plans to check out the rinks in Chicago before too long. "One of the great things skating teaches you growing up is time management. Taking that with me to Dartmouth was really helpful in balancing the rigorous academics and the skating team," Nicole notes. "I definitely plan to go downtown and skate on the outdoor rink in the winter.

Who knows, she may find her way into Adult Nationals at some point. "I'll probably miss competing so much I'll have to," she says.