Gibbons and Pekarek Announce Retirement
|Hilary Gibbons and Justin Pekarek |
Photo by Michelle Wojdyla
(4/21/04) — After a prosperous 2003-04 season in which they placed seventh at the 2004 State Farm U.S. Championships, ice dancers Hilary Gibbons & Justin Pekarek have announced their retirement from the sport. The duo also took the bronze medal in October 2003 at the Karl Schafer Memorial in Vienna, Austria.
Pekarek is also known for his success with former partner Jamie Silverstein. As a duo the two were 1999 World Junior champions and 2000 U.S. silver medalists. Their partnership dissolved shortly after. Pekarek joined with Gibbons two years later.
“I felt like even though we didn't achieve what I did with my previous partner, we really improved from our first year together,” Pekarek said of his partnership with Gibbons. “We put together a great free dance. I helped choreograph it, so I was really proud of our performance at nationals.”
In their first year skating together Gibbons and Pekarek placed an impressive ninth at the 2003 State Farm U.S. Championships. They had high hopes for the 2004 competition but placed seventh in the compulsory dance, original dance and free dance. Shortly thereafter the two began discussions about retirement.
“The decision was primarily mine,” Pekarek said. “But we had been talking about it. After having my initial career - then stopping for two years and starting again - I felt like I've been competing a really long time. People say I'm young and could go until I'm 30, but I feel like I already am 30! I've been in competition mode for a long time.”
Pekarek plans on attending the University of Massachusetts-Boston in the fall and majoring in engineering. He is still coaching and eventually plans on starting a career in the automotive world. Gibbons will attend college in the fall as well, though at press time she is undecided on where. Both 22-year-olds have attained sophomore status by taking some schooling during their skating careers. The couple is also still dating and will soon celebrate their four-year anniversary.
“This is like the next stage of life in the sport,” Pekarek explained. “We're both still involved but we don't have to be on the front lines.”