Five favorite things with Fontana and Zimmerman

Florida-based coaching team has true 'Karisma'

Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman like movies with one-word titles.
Silvia Fontana and John Zimmerman like movies with one-word titles. (Lynn Rutherford)


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(11/01/2011) - Ask John Zimmerman when he and wife Silvia Fontana were married, and he's quick to answer.

"August 28, 2003, more than eight years ago," the three-time U.S. pairs champion (with Kyoka Ina) said. "I screwed up [the date] one time, and I rehearsed it so I would never miss again."

The two, a couple since 1995, competed in a combined three Olympics (Zimmerman in 2002, and Fontana as a singles skater in 2002 and 2006). Today, they are passing on their experience, holding skating clinics throughout the country and coaching at the Saveology Ice Complex in Coral Springs, Fla.

Fontana, a five-time Italian ladies champion, also founded her own sportswear line, Karisma, in 2009. The clothing is manufactured in her home country in Torino, and distribution is growing all over the world.

"We have a retail shop in the Torino Olympic venue, the Palavela," Fontana said. "We started the store last year. It's a pro shop at the venue where we retail our own clothes, plus skates and other garments.

"The line is carried by about 13 stores in the U.S., and we're growing that number. We would also like to venture into Canada, and thanks to the help of our distributor, we are spreading to Japan, Korea and Russia."

Fontana and Zimmerman attended the 2011 World Figure Skating Championships in Moscow, where they set up a concession on the concourse that proved very popular with fans.

"The competition was packed, and there were always three, four or five people deep at our table," Zimmerman said. "To see kids coming in to competition decked out head to toe in Karisma clothing, it created a tear in Silvia's eye."

Any favorite movies?

John: Glory.

Silvia: Crash.

How about food?

John: Cheeseburgers.

Silvia: Pizza. I guess it's a cultural thing.

I cook for John a lot, but not cheeseburgers.

John: I have to grill them myself. I learned a few things from that show, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I did back in 2004. I create some pasta dishes for her. And we bought a grill, so I spend my Sundays doing that.

What do you watch on TV?

John: Tennis, car racing, History Channel.

Silvia: Game shows are a big addiction. I love Wheel of Fortune; I know every move of Vanna White. I dream about being her. I want to spin the wheel.


Silvia: I would say my favorite book is Tolstoy's Anna Karenina, which I read a while back. Now if I read a book, it's about business.

John: I like history books, or anything I can pick up in magazines and articles. I just finished Tecumseh [by John Sugden].

What's on your iPods?

Silvia: Everything I would skate to: soulful music, Latin, pop ... everything that [suits] my personality.

John: Blues, rock and jazz.

Silvia: He likes loud rock, from guys who never cut their hair.