Lawlor / Fairfield twins team up - even on the ice

Fairfield natives Katie and Maggie Burns, along with their teammates, won first place for synchronized figure skating at the Zagreb Snowflakes tournament in Croatia in February.
Fairfield natives Katie and Maggie Burns, along with their teammates, won first place for synchronized figure skating at the Zagreb Snowflakes tournament in Croatia in February.Contributed photo

They say that no one knows you like a team mate; they say no one knows you like a sibling; they say that no one knows you like your twin. What if they are all three?

Katie and Maggie Burns are 2017 Fairfield Ludlowe High School graduates who are soon to enter Holy Cross College in Worcester, Mass.

They have competed for years with each other at the highest level of their sport. They competed internationally for team USA. In the last year they have competed in Croatia and Austria. Their sport is synchronized figure skating. While it is not an Olympic sport, they are petitioning to become one in 2022.

The Burns sisters started skating when they were about 3 or 4 years old in Vermont because they didn’t really like skiing. They chose a sport where you have to literally be in “sync” with the other skaters. This has kept the twin sisters very close.

Katie: Skating has definitely made us closer.

We understand the challenges we were facing and were able to help each other fix problems and alter technique. We also are much better at communicating with each other because we can quickly tell each other what to do or what to fix through quick facial expressions or a single word. Talking isn’t allowed while competing.

Maggie: We travel together on the team and experience independence, but we work together as a unit. As members of a team, we understand the difficulties and rewards of skating.

I’ve been with my sister my whole life. I always have someone with me who understands me well. I only feel strange when I am alone because it is so rare.

The twins practiced about 30 hours a week while competing. They will not be competing while in college, so will probably only skate 10 hours a week, depending on ice time availability.

Most people can’t tell them apart, since they are identical.

Maggie: My sister and I are actually mirror-image twins. We are identical, but polar opposites in many ways.

For example, her part grows on the other side and she’s a righty when skating, whereas I am a natural lefty. She is extremely neat, color-coded clothes neat. I don’t mind being messy and having a pile of clothes on the chair in my room in contrast. She is more math and science geared and she wants to be biology major. I am definitely the opposite, loving history, English and art. Also, she loves pink, whereas my favorite color is blue.

Even though we look the same, do the same sport and go to the same school, we are very different personality-wise.

Katie: I’m better at math and science and she’s better at English and history. I’m messy and she’s neat. The only things we really have in common are our physical features, family and the sport we chose.

They both claim the other is neater, but both agree they love the challenge of skating, but for slightly different reasons.

Katie: No matter what level you are, there is always more difficulty to be added. Even Olympians have new things to learn, and I love that fact that skating gives you infinite possibilities.

Maggie: Believe it or not, I love the thinking behind the skating. Every step requires thought and technique. You can’t think of the steps ahead, and you have the chance to perfect your technique.

The sport isn’t mindless; it’s a difficult mental game. I enjoy the challenge of pushing my body and my memory to be better.

The Burns are taking a break from competition in order to concentrate on college, but not a break from one another.

Katie: Skating together has definitely helped us work together on and off the rink. Being with the same person for a majority of the time gives you a companion who understands you.

Thomas Lawlor lives in Southport with his wife and two daughters. His column appears every other Friday. He can be reached by email at Tlawlor@mcommunica