Katz on ice

from "Maariv" 29.01.2009 by Nir Shuali
translated by TAHbKA especially for FSU

Not yet 20, doesn't speak Russian, and is knocking on top of the world's figure skating door. Although an injury prevented her from competing at the European championships last week, she will still try to compete at the world championships in Los Angeles and pass Israel's Olympic criteria: 16th place.
Tamar Katz, Israel's Winter Olympic hopeful, is currently spending her days in the Wingate Sport Science institute instead of the usual jumping from one competition to the next as she would at this time of the year. She has landed in Israel to receive treatment for her injury and is waiting to take off to the heights.

Katz could have participated in the 2006 Olympics in Turino, but the qualification competition was held on the Atonement day and she was upset but proud to have missed it. The elite Israeli skater lives and trains in NY, in an ice rink situated in Monsey, an orthodox neighbourhood. Much to everyone's (Katz's included) surprise the orthodox are her huge fans, even the head rabbi of the community told her he thinks she's a great skater and that after she starred in a "Hannuka on the ice" show.

Katz was born in Dallas, Texas to Israeli parents. At the time her father was working in the US. When Tamar was 2 months old the family moved back to Israel. When she was 8, her father was again sent to the US, but this time to Washington DC. Since Tamar was a rhythmic gymnast in Israel and since this sport hardly exists in the US, and there was an ice rink nearby, Tamar started training and found her self in the top 5 of the US junior nationals at the age of 12. Following that, after her father's job took them back to Israel, the family moved to Metulla to be near the only ice rink in the country. The problem was that there were no top coaches, no ice time and no competition, so Tamar was stuck and after some searching ended up in Monsey, NY with Peter Burrows, 70, as her coach. Burrows, originally from Great Britain, has coached Olympic medalists in the past. The CHABBAD of Wayne helped Tamar with finding accommodations in New Jersey and since the age of 17 she rents the basement of a house of a Holocaust survivor from the Maidanich concentration camp - the 80 year old Sally Whitmore.

"She is like my new grandmother, and by my representing Israel she feels she is helping the country in her own way. The orthodox surrounding supports me as well. They come skating all the time and mentioned me in their local Jewish radio station. I spend all the Jewish holidays in their synagogue in Wayne, NJ."

The big apple is not only CHabad, it's also rap music and the hip hop classes. Since last year wasn't successful for Tamar - she dropped from 13th ot 16th place in Europe, she decided to change the direction completely. Lea Ann Miller, the known choreographer, made a programme for her which combines Jazz and Gershwin and it all worked well with Tamar's fourth place finish in the Karl Schaeffer Memorial in October -just before her injury.
"Last year I skated to Schindler's List, which is a haunting and beautiful piece of music, but the results were nothing to write home about. I took hip hop classes to produce something that would draw the judges attention and completely change my skating.
Now her route is Wingate - LA - Vancouver. "I'm very happy about the treatment in Wingate. I didn't know there were such great doctors, trainers, and professionals here. If there was an ice rink in Wingate I would stay here for good - the food is better, the weather is nicer..."

A banner "Vancouver 2010" greets Katz every morning. The world venue in LA, The Staples Center, she knows almost by heart, as any good Lakers fan would.
"I sit here on the shape bicycle in Wingate and imagine my skate there. I even see where my coach stands!"

Scan of the source (Hebrew): page 1, page 2

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