#Synchro

Vicki Korn: The Legacy That Will Never Be Forgotten


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Vicki Korn surrounded by Miami synchro skaters.

The whole skating community is saddened by the loss of a true legend and pioneer of the synchronized skating world, Vicki Korn. The first varsity head coach (1995-2009) of Miami Skating passed on April 9th, 2020.

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Korn built the foundation of Miami Skating and paved the way for its success.

When she started coaching in Oxford, Ohio (the small college town that Miami calls home) Miami Skating was still a student club, but we thank her for the varsity synchronized skating program it is today. Under the leadership of Korn, the teams combined earned 15 national titles (14 as a varsity program) and the Senior team qualified for eight ISU World Championships.

Her 2007 Senior team’s Silver Medal finish at the ISU World Synchronized Skating Championships still holds as the highest finish for as a US team. The Collegiate team’s national winning streak of 12 consecutive titles started under Korn in 2005. She and the team won five straight collegiate titles at the time of her retirement in 2009. 


‘Red is not a color, it's an attitude’
Korn’s passion for the sport was vibrant and shined through all the skaters she crossed paths with.

“I will always remember Vicki for her vision and drive,” current Head Coach Carla DeGirolamo stated. “She was willing to take risks and push the envelope to move the sport and our team forward. We were coming off of a tough season where we missed qualifying for the first world championships in Minneapolis (2000). We were all sitting waiting for our new season meeting to begin, and in comes Vicki with fire red hair (usually blonde). She said, ‘Red is not a color, it's an attitude’. That was the mantra and persona we took as a team and as a program through the whole season (we skated to Carmen). We had a strong, fierce competitive year and qualified for the World Championships.”


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Vicki Korn in 2007. (Credits: Jeffrey Sabo - Miami University)

Skating for Coach Korn was an aspiration for young skaters all over the US to strive for. Whether meeting her through the Miami Skating Summer Camps, a clinic where she was instructing, as a visiting coach at their home team or watching her alongside the boards at competition – skating for Miami became the ultimate goal.

In her career, Korn was awarded the Professional Skater Association’s Coach of the Year in 1997 following the RedHawks capturing their first National Title in the Senior division and again in 1999 following their second Senior Championship. After the team’s Silver Medal finish at the 2007 World Championships, she was honored as the Coach of the Year by both the PSA and U.S. Figure Skating. 


‘Am I speaking Portuguese?!’
Miami University is known as the cradle of coaches and a new generation of nationally and internationally recognized coaches were groomed under her.

“Vicki always used to say, ‘Am I speaking Portuguese?!’ when we didn’t understand what she was talking about,” states Heather Paige, the current Head Coach of Starlights (2019 Junior World Team).

“We’d always laugh. It was always Portuguese, never a different language… We would crack up … every time.” Current Assistant Coach, Lee Ann Shoker, and current Head Coach of Hockettes and University of Michigan, Erin Donovan, also mentioned this memory. They both claim to use it in their coaching today! 


Alumnae from their time coaching at Miami continue to serve the sport of synchronized skating as volunteers within US Figure Skating, officials, and coaches at all levels. It’s not uncommon for incoming Miami Skating athletes to have been coached by a Redhawk who is part of Korn’s coaching tree.

“When I decided to go into coaching, she was always there when I needed her, whether it was with a big congratulatory hug or a shoulder to lean on and wise words when my team did not do well,” spoke class of 2001 member Donovan. 

"We were literally walking in her shoes"
Korn touched the lives of many in the skating community across the globe, but especially those in Oxford.

She gave as much off the ice as she gave on ice to her students, both from the community and university. “Growing up as a figure skater in Oxford you idolized the ‘Miami Girls’. So, loving Vicki Korn was just in your nature,” quotes Class of 2013 member Michael Anne Longobardo.

“To me, Vicki was much more than a coach… and she always looked out for me even when I was being a stingy teenager.” Shoker was also a skater who grew up and skated in Oxford. She was a member of the 1st varsity team. “I remember being a young skater trying on Vicki’s high heels in the rink lobby. We were literally walking in her shoes and it was great.”



Sara Syms was a member of the 2000 class who had a special connection to Coach Korn. “I grew up with Vicki,” says Syms. “We had many ups and downs. I pushed her patience. It’s incredibly hard to lose a parent at any age, but my world changed at 19 when my mom died. She knew she was on her way out and made sure my brother and I were taken care of. She told Vicki at a competition freshman year, her time was coming and to watch over me. Vicki and Mitch were the first to my house when it happened and arranged for my ticket back to Chicago the next morning for the funeral. Vicki and Bonnie (Blume Grosel) were my rocks through this incredibly difficult time. She was my pseudo mom, coach, friend, mentor and I will forever be grateful for her support, guidance and unconditional love.” 


A diet coke
Besides skating, Korn also had a big influence on what her skaters’ pallet. ”She taught me how to bake brownies… and she expanded my food palate to things a normal 8th grader probably wouldn’t dare to eat,” stated Longobardo. “All of my athletes know that my drink of choice is a diet coke,” quoted Shoker. “I owe that to Vicki. Diet Coke was her coffee. I haven’t drunk one in months but did in her honor on Thursday night.” 

“Coaches are under an incredible amount of pressure even more so as a head coach of a prestigious, well-known program like Miami. For this reason, practices with VK meant business,” quoted class of 2010 member and former assistant coach Katie Bowling. “… one of my favorite memories is from my freshman year. VK turned 50 while we were at Porter… we made t-shirts that said, ‘Vicki’s turning 50 – and bringing sexy back!’ We warmed up to that Justin Timberlake’s song. We were scared, but she embraced it. That’s the part of who VK is to me: tough love but still able to laugh. To laugh with VK was such a treat, especially when you were anticipating having to do intervals.” Shoker also touched on this remarking: “She was a tough, but great coach. There was a lot more laughter than tears.” 


Vicki's mission will continue
Vicki Korn led the pack in promoting synchronized skating to its popularity today “… the most lasting piece of her legacy is the large family of strong women who have and continue to come through the Miami Skating program she pioneered,” DeGirolamo spoke.

“The relationships made, experiences had, and lessons learned through being a part of the Miami Skating program have helped shape so many women's lives. Many of these women are still giving back to the sport today… carrying on Vicki's legacy throughout the United States. It is through these women, Vicki's mission will continue, and her vision will be realized.”


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Korn’s coaching legacy includes her daughter, Ashley Korn. Skating for her mother three of her four years at Miami and winning four consecutive Collegiate Championships, Ashley is an accomplished athlete. She continues her success coaching with the University of Michigan Collegiate Team winning three Collegiate Championships while also coaching with the Hockettes alongside Donovan.

“This past season, Ashley worked with Vicki to cut the music for our Michigan’s Beatles program,” says Donovan. “Vicki loved The Beatles and had created a championship senior short program to songs from the Beatles during her final season at Miami. We did the program for her and to honor her so when we won Nationals with that program, we did it for her.” 


All of the moving tributes that have been posted and shared from her former athletes, colleagues and friends honoring Vicki Korn are a testament to how she touched so many lives.

Those wishing to honor her memory may also make a donation to the newly established U.S. Figure Skating’s “Synchronized Skating Athlete Support Fund” by visiting their website or mailed directly to U.S. Figure Skating, 20 First Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80906.