Growing up in Birmingham, Michigan, Caroline Watnick found plenty of opportunities to fall in love with ice-skating. She started when she was four-years-old, practicing on the backyard ice rink her father built or on the frozen neighborhood lake, and soon began taking lessons. After she had been skating solo for eight years, she decided to join a synchronized skating team newly organized at the ice rink where she practiced.
“ We’re basically like the Rockettes on ice; we hold arms, wear the same outfits, and do everything exactly the same. You get judged on how precise you all are together, and so everything has to be perfect. Even your facial expressions count,” Watnick says.
Training eight to nine hours a week, Watnick worked her way up to the third-highest level, “novice.” Her teams competed in the national championships three times, twice winning silver medals.
While still in high school, Watnick decided to retire her skates but not her love of performing. She moved from the ice to the stage, appearing as Wendy in her school’s spring production of Peter Pan. She says she was fortunate to work with some of the same people who trained Cathy Rigby for the 1998-99 Broadway production of the musical, which received a Tony nomination. Now, she says, Broadway, not the Olympics, is her goal. As for skating—there’s always the rink at Rockefeller Center.