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Omaha Magazine

All Figured Out: Teen Pairs Skaters Carve a Legacy

Feb 24, 2023 10:12AM ● By Sara Locke
U.S. Pairs Figure Skating Partners Camille Kane and Thomas McClure

Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

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Camille Kane and her Pairs Figure Skating partner Thomas McClure recently placed an impressive sixth in the 2023 Midwestern Sectionals and U.S. Pairs Final. The duo also earned a silver medal at Midwest Sectionals in Lansing, Minnesota in November 2022. This would be a life changing achievement for any athlete, but at the ages of 13 and 17, the Omaha teens have only just scratched the icy surface of what they’re capable of. 

“I am very lucky to have a mom who skated,” Camille Kane said. 

Her mother, Ann Kane, started skating around age 5 at a since-closed rink in Benson. Ann was asked to skate in Figure Skating Club of Omaha’s spring reunion show when the family moved back to Omaha in 2013. A then-4-year-old Camille watched her mom glide gracefully over the ice, and a passion was born.

“I skated from age five until high school,” Ann recalled. “Camille has already done so much better with it than I have.”

Reflecting on how ice skating became a driving force in her life, Camille said: “I think it was really gradual. I knew I wanted to skate right after that first event seeing my mom on the ice. Then I started entering competitions and winning more and more. Making it to U.S. Finals was one of my biggest goals, and I was surprised to have already achieved that. It was so great to have a partner in Thomas who was able to help create that opportunity with me.”

Relying on a partner is a risky undertaking, both on the ice and in the competitive arena. From being lifted, thrown, and caught on an unstable surface, to splitting your chances of victory down the middle with someone else’s discipline, drive, and determination. Camille is thankful to have found an ideal skating partner in Thomas.

“Camille and Thomas making the decision to go into pairs created a really unique opportunity for them,” noted Ann, who also coaches Learn to Skate classes for Figure Skating Club of Omaha. “When we were introduced, they were at a similar skill level; they both had the same passion for skating and could perform the same strong elements. That took everything in a new direction. Camille and Thomas both skate individually as well, but pairs is what took off for them.”

Without many male pairs skaters in Nebraska, Thomas and Camille finding one another was the result of a group effort. When the idea occurred to Thomas to look for a partner, his coach saw potential in a union with Camille. 

“We’ve been skating together for three years,” Camille added, “and at this point it’s not even trust I feel when we’re out there. We are the same skater when we’re working together. And my mom always says you skate with your heart and soul. You have to really feel the passion for it. That’s how you find the energy to keep showing up and keep giving it your all for yourself and your partner. No matter how tired you get or what else is going on. You put your heart and soul into it and you won’t be let down.”

For Thomas, finding the energy is easier than finding the time. 

“I remember the feeling of how things used to be. I was so hyper, I always wanted to be jumping and running and spinning. Once I got onto the ice, I was able to put all of that somewhere,” he said. “All of this energy that was making it hard to be still and focus had a place where it made sense, and I could spin and I could just go, and it made me a better skater.”

The 11th grader never looks for opportunities to skip practice, and instead finds himself at a loss during breaks or cancellations. 

“When I’m home I have nothing to do. My schedule is so tight between school and practice and work, and then there will be a day when there isn’t practice and I feel a little lost,” Thomas confessed. “I will just lay around and watch time pass really slowly. I get bored without practice pretty fast.”

Thomas took a part-time job that made perfect sense to him and his family—working at the same skating rink where he first fell in love with the sport at the tender age of 2. 

“His first week on skates, I carefully walked around the rink with him, holding his hand,” Michele McClure remembered. “By the second week, he wanted to be off on his own. The rink has an inline hockey team, and he joined at age 5. Then he moved into ice hockey, and during practice he noticed the figure skaters. Right there in the middle of practice he started trying the spins he saw them doing. That was when I found the Figure Skating Club of Omaha. He was maybe 10, and I brought him in and they were just amazed at how he was spinning without training.”

While high schoolers are often pressured to pick a path, Thomas feels assured he’s already traveling his. 

“I see myself on bigger national-level tournaments in the future,” he said. “This is the big thing for me. I’ll be on the ice. Figure skating, competing, maybe go back to hockey at some point. 
Wherever their individual futures take them, this pair have earned their cheering team—and the attention of figure skating enthusiasts nationwide. 

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This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Omaha Magazine. To subscribe, click here. 
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