Published on June 28, 2012 by Amy
Naomi Lang (born December 18, 1978 in Arcata, California, U.S.) is an American ice dancer. With skating partner Peter Tchernyshev, she is a two-time (2000 and 2002) Four Continents champion, a five-time (1999–2003) U.S. national champion, and competed at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Lang is the first Native American female athlete to participate in the Winter Olympics.
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Lang was a ballet dancer in Eureka and trained at the Dancer’s Studio. She started to dance at the age of three and continued with ballet dancing to the age of 15. She performed with the Grand Rapids (Michigan) Ballet Co. and studied ballet at the prestigious Interlochen Arts Academy where at the age of 12 she received an award for ‘Outstanding Achievement in Ballet’.
Lang started skating when she was eight, after seeing the Ice Capades. She began competitive ice dance with John Lee, winning the 1995 U.S. Novice title and the 1996 U.S. Junior silver medal.
Having noticed her at U.S. Nationals, Peter Tchernyshev wrote her a letter in mid-1996 asking for a tryout. They had a successful tryout in Lake Placid, New York and trained there for nine months with Natalia Dubova; then, due to Lang’s homesickness, they moved to Detroit and began training with Igor Shpilband and Elizabeth Coates.
They first won the U.S. Championships in 1999, and won the title the next four years in a row. They also won two Four Continents Championships (2000, 2002) and placed as high as 8th at the World Championships (2000, 2003). They placed 11th at the 2002 Olympics. In addition to being the five-time US National ice dance champions they also were five-time members of the US World Figure Skating Team and performed with Champions on Ice.
In 2000, Lang and Tchernyshev moved to New Jersey to train with Alexander Zhulin. After the 2002 World Championships, they switched coaches to Nikolai Morozov. They withdrew from the 2004 U.S. Championships due to the re-injury of Lang’s Achilles tendon. They announced their retirement from competitive skating in February 2004.
Lang and Tchernyshev continued to skate together professionally and appeared in several U.S. ice shows, including many of the Disson skating shows televised on NBC and the Hallmark Channel. They also toured extensively in Europe and Russia and performed in shows as Art on Ice, Kings on Ice with Evgeni Plushenko and composer and violinist Edvin Marton, and the Katarina Witt Farewell Tour. They performed at Jim Carrey’s private Christmas party in Hollywood where they met and entertained celebrities like Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise, Brooke Shields, Morgan Freeman, Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy.
Lang is a member of the Karuk tribe by her father Jason Lang’s heritage. Her mother is Leslie Dixon. Lang’s story is told in a chapter of the book ‘Native Athletes in Action’ by Vincent Schilling.
In 2004, Lang had a daughter, Lillia Ashlee, with Ukrainian ice acrobat Vladimir Besedin.
On December 1, 2007, Lang became engaged to coaching partner Mark Fitzgerald at “Fashion on Ice” in Trenton, New Jersey. Lang and Fitzgerald were married in August 2008 at the Castle on the Hudson in Tarrytown, New York. Their wedding was attended by Shae Lynn Bourne, Timothy Goebel, and Charles Butler (figure skater), with Angela Nikodinov as maid of honor and Peter Tchernyshev as the ‘man of honor’. They currently live in Arizona with her daughter Lillia Ashlee. Lang gave birth to her second child, a boy named Mason Daniel, on November 14, 2009.