parents, Albert and Marlene, live in Amberley Village.
Shmalo is a graduate of Walnut Hills High School and a student at
Yeshiva University's Benjamin N. Cardoz School of Law in New York
City. He trains in Rockland County, N.Y., a 45-minute drive from his
Battery Park City apartment. He had left the rink Sept.11 with Navarro
and was driving home when they heard radio reports of, first, a low-flying
jetliner, then a crash and a massive explosion, then another crash
and massive explosion.
By that time, nobody knew what was coming next, Shmalo
said. Like everybody else, we were scared. We were approaching
the George Washington Bridge and had to turn around because we heard
a radio report that said all the bridges and tunnels into New York
were closed. When we got back to the rink, we joined the people gathered
around the TV. When the cameras panned around the perimeter of the
World Trade Center, it was an eerie feeling to see my apartment building
Adding to the misery was news that came a day later: the brother of
Joanna Glick, a national-class figure skater who is a close friend
of Shmalo, was one of the passengers who had rushed the hijackers
of the jetliner that crashed in western Pennsylvania, killing everybody
Joanna skated in a tribute to her brother last week at Madison
Shmalo said. She had the best attitude possible. She skated
wonderfully. It made us realize we should shape up a little bit ourselves.
A week after the terrorist attacks, Shmalo's apartment was opened
for a day so residents could gather their belongings. Shmalo hauled
skates, equipment and 14 outfits he keeps his partner's costumes
at his apartment, too in suitcases strapped to his back. It
took an hour, but he walked down 18 flights of stairs like a pack-laden
It was good to have something to focus on (training for the
competition in Austria), because it allowed us to escape for a while
when we were on the ice,
Shmalo said. We were so determined to make this trip. Vienna
was a big priority. We were so excited to be representing America.
It never crossed our minds that it was dangerous. But that's the way
it goes. We understand the decision.
On Tuesday, Shmalo was walking back to his aunt's home in Midtown
Manhattan, where he has been staying since Sept.11, when he saw a
large group of passersby watching a big-screen TV showing CNN.
The news flashed across the screen that the U.S. Figure Skating
Association had canceled our trip to Austria, Shmalo said. I
didn't realize it was big news. The cancellation had an effect on
me, but I didn't think anybody else would care about it.
Whenever Shmalo's life returns to something approaching normal, he'll
still have adjustments to make. The subway stop for his lower Manhattan
apartment was beneath the World Trade Center. His tightly structured
schedule skating practice, law school and getting around New
York will have to be re-juggled to accommodate everything.
I'm like everybody else here with a full schedule, Shmalo
said. I have to patch it back together. I had my routine: I
knew where to park my car, how to get into the city, what time to
skate. Now, all that's changed.
Next up are the U.S. Nationals in Los Angeles in January. He and Navarro
finished sixth in that competition last year. On New Year's Eve, they
skated at a big ice show in Hong Kong.
The opportunity to skate internationally doesn't come up that
often, Shmalo said. We worked so hard in preparation for
the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championship, knowing that if we did well
we might be invited to Vienna. There was also a chance we might be
invited to the Golden Spin of Zagreb in early November. But I can't
imagine (the U.S. Figure Skating Association) sending anybody to Croatia
if they didn't send anybody to Vienna. It's a different world now.