Young Skater Wants to Follow Olympic Mother’s Footsteps

Natasha Mishkutionok's mother won Olympic gold and silver medals while skating for Russia in pairs skating in the early 1990s

Being a pairs figure skater doesn't always mean you practice with the people against whom you compete.

For 11-year-old Natasha Mishkutionok, she wakes up at 4:45 in the morning to skate with her coach before school.

"Are there ever mornings when you just don't want to wake up and come to the ice skating rink?" asked NBC Dallas-Fort Worth's Kristin Dickerson.

Olympic gold and silver medal ice skater Natalia Mishkutionok talks about why she never thought she was a good skater, and what it’s like coaching in Texas.

"Well, every morning I don't want to wake up," Natasha said with a laugh. "But then once I actually wake up I want to go skate."

She's been on the ice since she could walk, and she loves it.

"She's always like bubbly and happy," said her coach, Natalia Mishkutionok, who is also Natasha's mother.

Mishkutionok grew up skating in Russia.

"To me, it was more like a job. You go to the rink, you do your job. You go to school, you do your job," she said.

Now her job is perfecting young skaters like Natasha while coaching them at the Dr. Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch, Texas. 

"Is it a challenge being her coach and her mom?" Dickerson asked Mishkutionok.

"Yes!" Mishkutionok answered with a laugh. "She listens, but not like she should."

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But there are many logical benefits to having your mom as your coach. For one, "She's always around me," Natasha said with a laugh.

And two, her mom is an Olympic champion. Natalia Mishkutionok won Olympic gold and silver medals while skating for Russia in pairs skating in the early 1990s.

"So a gold medal and a silver medal, which is your favorite?" Dickerson asked Mishkutionok.

"Oh, silver. I actually skated much better," she said about her 1994 performance in Lillehammer. "It was a good feeling after that competition."

She was among the best in the world, but never once did she think that.

"Actually when I skated I didn't think I was that good. When I stopped skating and I started watching I'm like, 'Hmm, why didn't I think I was good?' I don't know," Mishkutionok said.

She said she always thought she could do better, and now her daughter does, too.

"I kind of want to be as good as her, or better than her," Natasha said with a laugh.

"Better would be better," her mother added.

The humble Olympic champion is just as proud of what she's more often known for today.

"I mean, at the rink, I'm usually 'Natasha's mom,'" Mishkutionok said.

Editor's note: After this story first aired, Natasha and her pairs partner, Daniel Tioumentsev, won a gold medal in Juvenile Pairs at the 2018 United States Figure Skating Championships in San Jose, California.

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