Skating With Olympic Medalist Simon Shnapir & DeeDee Leng
by juliet izon photography by patryce bak| November 19, 2014 |
Olympic pairs medalist Simon Shnapir and partner DeeDee Leng skate all over Boston for the most festive winter treats.
DeeDee Leng and Simon Shnapir at the Skating Club of Boston in Brighton.
It’s been less than a year since the most recent Winter Olympics, but bronze medalist Simon Shnapir and partner DeeDee Leng are already slicing the ice, day in and day out, preparing to compete for the gold in 2018. Except during the holidays, that is. (Even Olympians catch the holiday spirit.) The Boston–bred Shnapir is a veteran of the city’s winter festivities, but Leng, with whom he partnered just a few months ago, is a newbie, having moved here in June after practicing in Indiana. While the pair train rigorously for the US Championships in January (and, if they qualify, the World Championships in Shanghai in March), they’re both also carving out some downtime to take in winter’s best. Being athletes, this all begins, of course, at their home away from home… the rink.
“Our home club is The Skating Club of Boston, which is open to the public during certain hours. I love training there because it has a great environment, and it’s rooted in history,” says Shnapir, referring to Olympic winners Dr. Tenley Albright, Dick Button, Paul Wylie, Nancy Kerrigan, and Emily Hughes, all of whom are alumni. “We have a fullservice gym in our rink, as well as an athletic trainer and conditioning coach whom we work with every day. I can’t really recommend a good gym [in the city] because I would just say, ‘Come to our rink; we’ve got a great guy!’”
When their skating hardware needs a tweak, they trust their blades to skate technician Jonathan English. “He works with a lot of skaters at our rink and comes in once every other week,” Shnapir says. For those not at the professional level, his full-service skate shop in Peabody, The Sharper Edge, stocks everything from skate boots to warm-ups, perfect for strolling Boston Common, saturated in holiday lights.
Training so vigorously works up an appetite, and located just a stone’s throw from the rink is the pair’s favorite early morning spot: The breakfast Club. “You can walk across the street pretty much and it’s there. That’s nice,” Shnapir says. “It’s one of those throwback diners, but it’s modeled after ’80s movies like The Breakfast Club. They have movie posters all over the walls and cool memorabilia. It’s a great place, and the food’s really good, too. They have greasy food, healthy food—they have everything!” Adds Leng, “I get anything from pancakes and waffles to just yogurt, granola, and eggs. I’m a breakfast person; I’ll have it any time of the day.” As for Shnapir: “I go for a good old fashioned breakfast: eggs, toast, sausage, bacon, and a nice cup of coffee.”
Leng and Shnapir with their coach, Bobby Martin.
When they’re afforded a rare break, the pair will brave chilly temperatures to take in a view of the Charles River. “I really enjoy running it, and they have nice benches set up alongside, so I’ll just sit there and enjoy it,” says Leng. Adds Shnapir, “They even have little outdoor workout spaces.” And speaking of outdoors, Shnapir has a favorite spot for triple-lutzing outside: “Definitely the Frog Pond in Boston Common. It’s right in the middle of the city.”
Eating at The Breakfast Club, located across from their practice rink.
Spending hours on end training in near freezing temperatures also means this duo has a penchant for winter accessories. “The Tannery is a great place to buy hats and gloves,” Shnapir says. “They have a mountaineering section in the basement that sells outdoor gear for the winter.” And gone are the days of training in uncomfortable leotards or tights. “I prefer wearing pants,” says Leng. “I’m a huge fan of nike. Anything from their jackets to skating pants, workout clothes—I live in them every day!” For her counterpart, “I just wear a nice pair of running pants to practice,” says Shnapir, “something that moves well but is light and comfortable. We both love our Nike.”
Protecting their muscles is just as important. “We definitely try to get a lot of massages and treatments done and work with a lot of medical people as well,” Shnapir adds. “I go to bella Santé for massages—it’s phenomenal and absolutely Zen. I don’t mind saying I’ve gone there for a pedicure!”