High hopes for Wingle and McKernan

Hitchcock themed program dramatic twist for new team

Timothy McKernan hopes for new life on the ice with Shannon Wingle after his split with Piper Gilles earlier this year.
Timothy McKernan hopes for new life on the ice with Shannon Wingle after his split with Piper Gilles earlier this year. (Michelle Harvath)


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By Mickey Brown, special to
(07/09/2008) - An air of suspense will surround Shannon Wingle and Timothy McKernan's competitive debut later this month at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships.

Wingle and McKernan have been skating together for the past two weeks at the World Arena Ice Hall in Colorado Springs, Colo, going full-speed to get their programs ready for Lake Placid, July 30-Aug. 2. They just put the finishing touches on their free dance, a program choreographed by Tom Dickson and set to medley of music from the Alfred Hitchcock films Vertigo and Psycho.

"It's eerie, dark and mysterious," Wingle said. "He tries to steal my jewels, and he steals my heart through this process of creating spells over me, so I fall in love with him. In the end, the spells take over me, and I become evil. Someone dies."

Just who, Wingle is not saying. That they can construct such an intricate story so hurriedly speaks volumes about their dedication to this new union.

Wingle called McKernan after she heard about his split from Piper Gilles, and after her own partnership with Ryan Devereaux dissolved. The two had competed against each other the past three years and knew each other fairly well. Each had tried out with two other potential partners, but none felt like the right fit.

When they got together on the ice, their compatibility was immediately evident.

"He's long, he's leggy, our body styles match," Wingle said. "Our personalities clicked well, too."

But for Wingle, she could not consummate the new arrangement without a certain someone first signing off on it: her coach of almost nine years, Igor Shpilband.

"He's a really important part of my skating. He gave his approval," she said. "I wouldn't want to do something without him knowing about it. It would be like a guy asking to marry me without asking my dad."

At first, the new team wasn't sold that it would be able to have its programs ready for Lake Placid, where it will be competing in all three dance segments.

Wingle recounted, "When [our coaches] suggested it, I said, 'Do you think we can pull it off?' They said, 'If you get on it right now, I don't see why not.'"

Still, there is a bit of trepidation in their voices when the topic of Lake Placid is brought up; they still have yet to choose the music for their original dance.

Their experience, however, should outweigh the factors working against them. After all, they both competed on the Junior Grand Prix circuit the last two years, and he has a U.S. championship (2005, intermediate) and a U.S. silver medal (2008, junior) under his belt. A good showing at the Olympic Center will likely earn them a JGP assignment or two.

The last two weeks have been a whirlwind, especially for Wingle, who left her home in Michigan with only a week's worth of clothes. She has had to go shopping for certain essential articles of clothing and has had to borrow clothes from McKernan's sister, Lauren, with whom she is sharing a bedroom.

"We fit into the same pants," Wingle said. "She's been more than kind."

Wingle and McKernan are not tempering their expectations for the upcoming season. They are shooting for a spot on the junior dance podium in Cleveland.

Are they psycho for aiming so high? Maybe, but one thing's for sure: neither one is looking in the rear window.