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Together forever

Predictable, boring and couldn’t be happier


Without a doubt, at 5 feet 9 inches tall and 6 feet 5 inches tall, U.S. senior ice dancers (1982–85) Susan Jorgensen and Robert Yok- abaskas stood out from the competition. Tey were elegant, emotional and skillful at portray- ing love and romance. Turns out, they weren’t acting.

After leaving the competitive scene fol-

lowing the 1985 U.S. Figure Skating Champi- onships, they decided on a life together, getting married in June 1986. “We were so used to each other, we didn’t

know what to do without each other,” Susan said.

It was kind of incredible that they got to- gether in the first place. Susan grew up skating singles at the Genesee Figure Skating Club in Rochester, New York, and then moved to Buf- falo to train. She quit before her junior year of high school, but after her freshman year of college, a friend called about this really tall guy from Connecticut looking for an ice dance part- ner because the girl he was skating with had snapped her Achilles tendon. “My parents did not want me to do it; they wanted me to go back to Wellesley,” she recalled. “My grandparents drove me to Lake Placid to try out with Robert. I took a temporary leave from college that wound up being permanent.” “She was so shy I had to ask her stupid questions to keep the conversation going,” Rob- ert recalled. “Now she’s the one who keeps the conversation going and I shut up.” For the past 23 years, Susan and Robert

Yokabaskas have lived in Cape Elizabeth, Maine (south of Portland), where they maintain a tie to skating as part-time coaches. Tey moved to Maine when Robert’s job transferred him there, and it has turned out to be just the right place for them. “We like Maine because there’s an eclectic mix of people here — artistic types,” Susan said. “We built a house on this dead-end road that ends at this little cove. We just love it. We walk down to the water. It’s very quiet and peaceful.” All their kids love the water — surfing, body surfing and boogie boarding. Teir sons were also cross-country skiers. Robert even used some of his skating skills to coach the middle school cross-country skiing team. Susan, 54, and Robert, 58, said their kids

— Lauren, 28, Bobby, 25, and James, 22 — say they’re boring. Tey do prefer a quiet, fami-

8 MARCH 2017

Susan Jorgensen and Robert Yokabaskas perform at the U.S. Championships.

ly-centered life, but perhaps one of their most boring characteristics is actually a big positive left over from skating — they love keeping a careful schedule. “You keep those skills you developed skat-

ing at 6 a.m., going to school every day and do- ing homework in the car,” Susan said. Te lessons learned in a skating partner-

ship, such as working together as a team, know- ing how to weather highs and lows and compro- mise, have served them well in their three-decade marriage. “We knew we could conquer anything after

skating,” Robert said.

Tey joked that although they didn’t really teach their kids to skate, they all skate fairly well. Clearly they have a skating gene, but none pur- sued the sport, and instead keeping their skating to a nearby pond. Robert’s late father, Vin Yoka- baskas, was a basketball legend at the University of Connecticut, so Robert stayed away from the sport to avoid comparisons. Similarly, he didn’t want their kids to be compared to them and, in

general, he preferred that the kids stayed away from subjective sports. Today, Lauren is living in New York City and studying opera. Both sons still live in Maine, working and going to college. Until all three kids were in school for the

full day, Susan was a stay-at-home mom. Ten she was a substitute nursery school teacher, and from that became a part-time nanny/babysitter for one of the families, and has been with them for nine years. Tat, along with teaching skating, keeps her busy. Robert works as a packaging salesman,

traveling around Maine, New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts, selling ink jet systems to all the major mills. He also teaches skating part-time. It’s mostly about hockey in the local rinks, but he and Susan are happy to share their knowledge of the sport during the limited num- ber of figure skating sessions. “When we moved here, we didn’t have any intention of teaching here,” Robert said. “We decided we were going to raise our kids. We


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