Cerritos twins Joshua and Jasmine Fendi primed to dominate ice skating world
When they were just 6 years old, twins Joshua and Jasmine Fendi received a birthday gift that changed the course of their lives.
“Our parents took us ice skating in Lake Arrowhead,” recalled Joshua. The now 12-year-old twins had never ice skated before, but Jasmine said she and her brother knew instantly that they wanted to perform the jumps and spins they saw the other skaters complete. Inspired by the skaters they saw in Lake Arrowhead, the twins began taking ice skating lessons. Fast forward six years, and the Fendi twins can do far more than jump and spin. They have the distinction of being the nation’s top juvenile pairs champs. In January, they won the juvenile pairs competition at the 2014 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.
“It was really exciting,” said the twins, who often speak in unison, of winning the championship.
Their mother, Mia Fendi, said the achievement was a “big deal,” given that they were facing off against skaters in their teens. Starting in the summer, Jasmine and Joshua will begin skating at the intermediate level, which means they’ve not only moved up a notch in the competition circuit but will square off against youth up to 18 years old.
“Their future is bright, and they certainly could be stars,” said Dawn Eyerly, vice president of the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club to which the Fendi twins belong. A member of the U.S. Figure Skating Association, LAFSC has included more than 70 national, world and Olympic champions, according to the group’s website.
The twins steadily worked their way up to winning the juvenile pairs championship, coming in third last year and fifth before that.
“I just picture myself back in practice,” said Jasmine of how she stays focused during competition.
Joshua has a more humorous technique for performing under pressure.
“I picture everyone in their underwear, especially the judges,” he said.
Peter Oppegard, the twins’ coach for roughly three years, said that the pair have made marked progress since he began working with them.
“They’ve just grown tremendously,” said Oppegard, who won a bronze medal for pairs skating at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary. “They look much more mature technically or artistically than others that are older. They really have the sophistication.”
This stands in stark contrast to how they performed in competition a few years ago, Oppegard said. Then, “they were wobbly and weak and got nervous in competition because of lack of experience,” he said. “After three years, they are very thorough. … They’re much calmer when they get on the ice.”
Watching the Winter Olympics in February, Jasmine and Joshua couldn’t help but imagine competing in the event one day. Their goal is to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympics. With role models such as Evan Lysacek and Michelle Kwan, whose family owns East West Ice Palace, the Artesia rink where Jasmine and Joshua train, the twins have already made tremendous sacrifices to realize their Olympic dream. They practice their skating technique with Oppegard (husband of Michelle Kwan’s older sister, Karen) for four hours daily. They also take ballet a couple of times weekly and strength-train to perfect their skating skills.
Because their practice schedule is so intense, the twins do not attend traditional school but instead take classes online.
Their parents have sacrificed for the twins’ Olympics hopes as well, moving from Big Bear to Cerritos in 2010 to allow them to train at East West Ice Palace and have access to coaches such as Oppegard, a U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Famer.
But making it to the 2022 Winter Olympics depends on a number of variables, particularly how much the duo grows.
“I’d have to get a foot taller, at least close to six feet,” said Joshua, who now stands 58.5 inches tall, just an inch-and-a-half taller than Jasmine, his elder sibling by 14 minutes. Male pairs skaters, who typically aren’t related to their partners, often stand a full head taller than their female counterparts. This enables them to easily lift their partners above their heads, a move Joshua just began executing with his sister.
“It’s kind of a big deal. They’re the same size,” said their mother, who, along with her husband, Effendi Fendi, has only skated recreationally.
Oppegard has nicknamed Joshua “the ant,” an insect known for being able to carry multiple times its body weight. Just weeks ago Joshua started lifting his sister overhead, but Oppegard said he won’t push this particular move.
“I intend to take my time with them (in terms of lifting),” Oppegard said. “They have great skating skills. I don’t want to risk any kind of fall.”
In addition to Joshua’s strength, the twins said they also stand out for their ability to show emotion when they skate competitively. The moves they’re working on mastering include the triple jump, the death spiral and the side-by-side jump.
Eyerly, a national judge in addition to her duties with LAFSC, said that being siblings gives Joshua and Jasmine a distinct advantage over other pairs skaters.
“I’ve been involved in skating virtually my entire life,” said Eyerly, who skated in pairs competitions with her brother during the 1990s. “The teams that stay together — their unison gets better. They become stronger. There are pairs teams where I don’t see two skaters, which is a great pair quality.”
Because pairs skaters tend not to be siblings, they often break up, only to partner with someone else, Oppegard said.
“In the United States, it’s difficult to keep pairs teams together,” he said. But the Fendis “are such a good match. They have built-in longevity because they’re brother and sister. They can go the long term and work out any problems they might have. Their safety and security will be together.”
Joshua agreed. Although the twins sometimes fight — always at home, never on the ice — they say their relationship gives them the foundation to flourish as competitive skaters.
“We can stick together,” Joshua said. “Other pairs break up. We’ll always have each other.”
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