Ice Network

Kalesavich attends to skating's next generation

Motherhood, coaching keep former U.S. junior pairs champion going
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The Buono family shares a passion for ice. -courtesy of Stephanie Kalesavich Buono

Time has given Stephanie Kalesavich Buono perspective. When her partnership with Aaron Parchem ended after the 2002-03 season, she was a bit lost.

"I wasn't really sure where to go from there," said Kalesavich Buono, who, with Parchem, won the 2000 U.S. junior pairs title and earned three top-five finishes in senior pairs. "I felt in a lot of ways I'd fallen short with my career, especially since we came so close to making the [2002] Olympic team.

"Now that a decade has passed, my perspective has totally changed," she continued. "I realize in many ways my career was a huge success. It just took me a little while to see that.

"Obviously, representing the U.S. was a huge honor...traveling and being able to see the world. Of course, the discipline and the work ethic I learned will carry with me through life. There are also the memories and the friendships. My best friends today are those I skated with as a kid. It's pretty cool."

Shortly after finishing her days as a competitor, Kalesavich Buono started coaching. She had already met her future husband, Michael Buono, so she wasn't inclined to search for another partner or join a show.

"I found I loved coaching, and I've been doing it ever since," she said. "Obviously, it's turned into a lifelong career."

These days, Kalesavich Buono coaches three days a week at the Onyx Ice Arena in Rochester, Mich. She and Michael have two daughters: Gabriella, 4, and Aria, 18 months. Just 30, she's already been married for nine years. It was her involvement in skating, and pairs in particular, that prepared her well for the life she chose.

"People had always told me from the time I was young that I was very mature," she recalled. "A lot of it was because I was always around the older skaters. My experience being in a partnership obviously was a great thing."

Gabriella was in an ice show before the age of 2.

"She absolutely loves it," Kalesavich Buono said. "Now, it's something we do as a family. (Buono is a former hockey player.) Being on the ice with her makes me so happy."

Now Aria is ready to give it a go.

"She'll try to run through the door to the ice," Kalesavich Buono said. "She's tiny. I have a very small pair of skates that Gabriella used before she was 2. As soon as the skates fit, she's in."

Right now, with young children, Kalesavich Buono mostly works with young skaters; her current students are ages 4 to 15. When her kids are older, she hopes to increase her coaching hours and become more involved with teaching competitive skaters.

In thinking about her competitive days, Kalesavich Buono fondly remembers the Goodwill Games in Brisbane, Australia. Another great memory is 2001 Skate Canada in Saskatoon, where Sarah Hughes, Michelle Kwan and Irina Slutskaya offered a preview of the ladies competition at the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Kalesavich Buono said, "The important thing with skating is it takes such incredibly hard work that as long as you remind yourself why you're skating -- which should be because of the love and passion you have for it -- then that's really what's going to carry you long term."

"There are so many things that skating teaches you that will carry with you through your life and so many different things you can do with it."