Rockville Siblings Capture World Junior Title in Ice Dance

Brother and sister set sights on 2022 Winter Olympics


Rockville siblings Michael and Rachel Parsons won an international ice dancing contest in Taiwan last week.

Via Barry Gropman

A brother and sister duo from Rockville glided to first place last week in an international ice dancing competition.

Even a severe case of jet lag couldn’t dampen the spirits of Rachel and Michael Parsons on Tuesday, the morning after they’d flown back from the International Skating Union World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taiwan. Michael Parsons, 21, said he and his sister were fractions of a point behind another team going into the last round and were glued to a monitor behind the scenes as the final standings were announced.

“It was pure elation,” Michael said of the moment when they realized they’d clinched victory by 0.55 points, becoming the first sibling team to win a world junior title in ice dance.

Michael and Rachel, 19, said the Taipei contest marks a milestone in their quest to compete in the 2022 Olympics. The skating championships was their last time performing at the junior level, and now, they’re ready to graduate to the senior circuit.

The siblings, who are members of the Wheaton Ice Skating Academy, have been dancing together for about seven years, even though each hit the ice much earlier. Michael’s original goal was to become a hockey player, but his mother encouraged him to start with figure skating first to build his footwork skills. It wasn’t long before he fell in love with the sport, he said.  

Rachel said she was influenced by the world-class skaters she saw on television.

“I remember watching the Olympics on TV and seeing all the girls in sparkly dresses and thinking how cool that would be,” she said.

The duo have both performed with other partners, but ended up together after their coaches noticed they had similar skating styles and would match well. Competing at a high level means skating for two hours in the morning and two in the evening, six days every week, they said. That’s not counting the hours they spend doing ballet, hip-hop and strength training.

While some brothers and sisters might not want to spend this kind of time together, Rachel and Michael said their passion for the sport helps them stay strong as a team. And partnering with anyone is hard work, whether or not the person is a relative, Rachel pointed out.

“Even with partners that aren’t siblings, you kind of end up with a sibling-type relationship anyway,” Rachel said.

The two won last week’s competition by performing to a contemporary rendition of “Singing in the Rain” in a dance program they said was full of personal meaning.

“The theme was basically taking what life gives you … and getting through everything,” Michael said. “I think that’s a lesson to us.”

The brother and sister said they get about a week off before they head back into practice and begin preparing new routines for the next season.

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