HAMAR, Norway – Chloe Lewis woke up Tuesday morning and had a brief panic attack. The 15-year-old ice dancer had no idea where she was. Lewis turned to her side, saw her roommate and remembered: She was living out her dream of competing at the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
A few hours later, Lewis saw another dream come to fruition when she won the silver medal with partner Logan Bye.
“It’s amazing,” the 17-year-old Bye said of their medal. “Coming to this event is an honor and it’s an honor representing Team USA. It’s so special.”
The duo was in third after scoring 55.07 in Sunday’s short dance but was able to climb into second with a strong free dance that earned them 81.30 points.
Lewis said that the crowd was cheering loudly throughout their entire free dance, which helped motivate the pair to “one of the best programs we’ve ever done.”
Russian teams filled the two remaining spots on the podium, with Anastasia Shpilevaya and Grigory Smirnov winning gold with a total of 141.88, ahead of Lewis and Bye’s 136.37. Anastasia Skoptcova and Kirill Aleshin took bronze with 134.62.
The ice dance team’s silver marks Team USA’s first figure skating medal in Youth Olympic history (Jordan Bauth won gold as part of a mixed country team at the inaugural Winter Youth Olympics in 2012).
With no shortage of superlatives after their performance, Lewis explained their free dance in Hamar, Norway as “the best time ever,” which also describes how she feels about her time at the Youth Olympic Games.
“It’s been perfect,” she said. “We’ve met athletes from around the U.S. that do different sports throughout the country and athletes from different countries that do other sports, and it’s so cool to meet people that do skeleton and snowboarding, and see how they train and to make new friends.”
The road to Lewis and Bye’s Youth Olympic medal started in February 2010. Still only on the junior level, they have been skating together for six years – longer than some of the top senior couples in the world.
They were paired together when Bye was scheduled to audition with a different skater at Lewis’ rink. Her coach saw her standing on the side of the rink and suggested they skate together so Lewis didn’t feel alone.
While it may sound unintentional, the pairing was fate for Lewis, who had her sights set on Bye for weeks.
“There’s this website where everyone puts in their profile with height, age and where they live – all that stuff. I was very small at the time, and there are more girls than guys so it’s harder for girls to find partners,” Lewis recalled. “So when I came across his profile and saw that everything was perfect, height-wise and all, I just kept going back to it, hoping it would say ‘Willing to move: Yes,’ but it never did.”
Bye’s answer to that question changed after he skated with Lewis. At first, they had a long-distance partnership where they trained together two weeks a month and apart the other two. Bye is a Colorado Springs, Colorado native, while Lewis was living in Sun Valley, Idaho. After a year of that arrangement, Lewis moved to Portland, Oregon, where the back-and-forth continued.
Despite the abnormal training routine, they finished fourth at nationals at the novice level. Realizing the potential their future together held, Bye left his parents and younger sister and moved to Portland when he was 13.
Two years later, they made the ultimate career move and went together to Novi, Michigan, to train at the Novi Ice Arena under coach Igor Shpilband, who has coached such stars of the sport as Meryl Davis and Charlie White, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, and Tanith Belbin and Ben Agosto, to name a few.
"I moved alone for the first year and I lived with a family that also had a skating daughter and that had moved there for skating,” said Lewis, who moved when she was 14. “Then this past fall my mom moved to Michigan to live with me.”
Bye is also joined in Michigan by his mother, who travels frequently between there and Colorado to spend time with her husband and daughter.
Lewis and Bye credit the move with improving their abilities and raising their skating to the next level. Not only are they training under a world-renowned ice dance coach, but they are also training alongside some of the top teams in the world, including world medalists Madison Chock and Evan Bates.
“It’s definitely an honor to be skating with everyone there,” Bye said. “The relationships are fantastic. Everyone’s in support of one another. It’s definitely like a family. We hang out on and off the ice. It’s a beautiful thing.”
In case skating next to and becoming friends with Olympians isn’t enough daily motivation for the Olympic hopefuls, who have their sights set on both the 2022 and 20216 Olympic Winter Games, winning a Youth Olympic medal should help.
“This motivates us in so many ways,” Bye said. “Being here is an honor and getting a medal it definitely inspires us quite a bit, knowing that all of our work for the season has paid off, and we’re just going to keep on working.”