The synchronized duo

Students come close to seeing themselves compete in the Olympics

By on April 20, 2016
Natasha VoCourtesy of Jordan Weiss

Natasha Vo

Minnesota natives Jordan Weiss, sophomore athletic training major, and Natasha Vo, freshman health science major, have skated their way to the top of women’s synchronized figure skating.

Representing Team USA, Weiss and Vo have been competing both nationally and internationally for years.

Synchronized figure skating has never been an Olympic sport, but the two had hoped that it would make its debut in South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“Last summer they made the final vote and decided that it wasn’t going to be in the Olympics,” Weiss said. “South Korea doesn’t have a synchronized skating team so that’s kinda why and also there are 20 girls on every team and it’s hard to house that many people in one village.”

Both of the girls had been anticipating the news since they committed their lives to skating professionally. The girls knew about the possibility since the Summer Olympics in 2012.

“It has been my goal to go to the Olympics for a long time. I’ve always thought about being in the Olympics since I’m on Team USA,” Vo said.

Hearing the news that they won’t be representing Team USA in 2018 was hard for both of the girls.

“[Our coaches’] hope was to be the 2018 Olympic team so that’s the ultimate reason why I did it,” Weiss said. “All along it’s been a question on whether or not we are going to be in the Olympics because it is an event that hasn’t been in before.”

Vo and Weiss met when they were 5 and 6 years old on their first team in Minnesota. Weiss was originally a gymnast and her mom thought it would be fun to try figure skating. Soon after that the sport became much more than a hobby.

“When I was 10, my first team created a team where I was too young to be on it so that brought me to team Braemar,” Vo said. “That’s how I became on Team USA. It’s grown since then.”

Their journey to Team USA began when they joined the junior Minnesota team, made up of girls 19 years-old and younger, and skated professionally for the first time. Their coach from Minnesota moved to coach a senior team in New York and soon after the girls followed.

“My senior year and her junior year we flew out every single weekend to practice here,” Weiss said.  

Their grades didn’t suffer with the traveling but they did have to learn how to manage their time efficiently.

Holly Weiss, the mother of the now professional skater, said she was amazed at her daughter’s ability to maintain her grades while competing at such a high level.

“Since the sport wasn’t sponsored by the high school or university, she always needed to make her own arrangements with high school teachers and QU professors for all the time she needed to miss class to travel,” Holly said.

It was difficult academically to fly back and forth every weekend but they both made it work. Both Jordan and Vo said that it was worth the struggle because it was a great experience.

“That was a lot and at the time it seemed really normal but looking back it’s pretty crazy,” Jordan said.

They would leave school early on Friday to practice all weekend in New York and fly back on Sunday.

“She flew 2,500 miles to practice every weekend during her senior year in high school,” Jordan’s father, Tom Weiss said. “She told us that she was in school a total of 18 hours the entire month of one January because of travel for practice and competition.”

The skaters both looked at colleges in the tri-state area near where their practice was held and they both found Quinnipiac to be a good fit. Vo and Jordan scheduled their classes at the university so that they could leave early enough on Friday for practice.

They practiced on Fridays in Stamford for three hours and stayed the night at a friend’s house. The next morning they would go up to Monsey, N.Y. to continue training.

“It kinda sucked because when I got back all my friends would be hanging out and doing fun things but that is the only time I got to study,” Jordan said. “I would usually study for a couple of hours and relax and hangout with people who are still on campus.”

Sunday morning they would wake up, go to practice again and get back to campus around 9:30 p.m.

“I just had to make time for myself. I couldn’t study all the time when I got back because I would get burnt out,” Jordan said.

Vo said she’s been lucky so far at Quinnipiac and that her professors are all really accommodating and understanding of what she’s going through.

“It’s hard for me to find more friends since I am not here on the weekends,” Vo said. “I would have to leave Friday afternoon and some days I do come back on Saturdays, but I’m really tired and I don’t want to go and hangout with friends, I want to sleep and watch TV.”

Since joining a sorority on campus, Vo has met a lot of girls, but knows that if she weren’t so busy she could spend more time with her sisters.

“I’m in Kappa Delta [with Natasha] so I’m excited to spend more time with them. Me and Natasha were never able to go to chapter so a couple of weeks ago was the first chapter we’ve ever been to,” Jordan said.

Throughout everything, the two say skating has always been worth it.

Jordan Weiss courtesy of Jordan Weiss

Jordan Weiss

“Just stepping on the ice when you’re in another country and you can hear the crowd chanting ‘USA’ over and over, and see flags waving in the stands, all the nerves go away and everything else is just silenced and there honestly isn’t a moment that can ever make me feel more supported and honored,” Jordan said.

Winning Nationals has been Vo and Jordan’s biggest accomplishment. Jordan still re-watches the video and reminisces on the insane moment, and Vo said finding out that they won made all of the hard work pay off.

“Now I have the chance to say ‘I’m a junior national champion,’” Vo said.

They compete five or six times in the U.S. with other U.S. teams. Unlike most sports, they don’t have a game every week. They compete all throughout the year.

Being able to travel around the world had been an amazing experience for the girls and their families.

“My favorite country that I visited [with my team] was Switzerland,” Vo said. “It is such a beautiful place. [We went] this year and this was the year that our team was very close with each other.”

Throughout this process Vo and Jordan’s families have supported them tremendously and played a huge role in helping them follow their dreams.

“For five years we went at least once to Germany, France, Switzerland, and Sweden,” Tom said. “[Jordan] was the one who created memories for us, and we’ll be forever grateful and proud.”

Both of the girls said that they couldn’t ask for anything more from their parents.

“They are the ones that gave me the opportunity to go to New York,” Jordan said. “In my head I thought, ‘Wow that would be cool,’ but I never thought that that would be a possibility.”

For Vo, her mom pushed her to follow her dreams and that is why she ended up where she did today with skating.

“She’s done everything for me,” Vo said. “She’s paid for everything and has gone to all of the main competitions.”

Vo’s mother, Myhanh Truong, believes that the sport helped her daughter learn to be more competitive and that this will benefit her in school and throughout her future career.

“Healthy competition inspires Natasha to do her best and when she competes she will become more inquisitive, research independently and learn to work with others,” Truong said.

Jordan will no longer continue skating on a professional level with Vo, but she knows that the sport is worthy of being in the Olympics and may someday get its chance.

“I think it’s pretty much for sure for 2022 but I couldn’t wait that long to do it, I’ll be 26,” Jordan said.

For Vo, her sophomore year will likely be her last year skating. She’ll put her focus on school and has hopes to gain more experience in the medical field by volunteering with her newfound free time.

“I see skating in my future. I think maybe I’ll want my kids to skate. I want to keep my love for it and continue to skate,” Vo said.

As for their time at Quinnipiac, they are excited to get to know their sorority sisters better and become more involved on campus. Their families will continue to cherish the memories they made while watching them skate.

“[It’s] easy to take [being on team USA] for granted after a while,” Holly said. “But seeing her in her Team USA warm-ups and hearing the arena filled with USA! USA! USA! chants and watching the younger skaters look up to them and ask them for autographs were moments when we couldn’t help but realize how significant it was.”

Vo and Jordan will always keep synchronized figure skating close to their hearts.

“I hope one day I can see synchronized skating in the Olympics,” Vo said. “It’s bittersweet because I wish that I could be on that team and it’s hard to let go of something that you’ve done your whole life.”

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About Amanda Perelli

Managing Editor
Journalism Major
Class of 2019