Brendan Man knows exactly when his passion for skating began. The then-five-year-old was transfixed by star-studded performances at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, including those by American bronze medalist Simon Shnapir. “I thought it was really cool how everyone could jump and spin in the air,” he recalls.
Fast forward and Brendan, now 11, is perfecting spins of his own at The Skating Club of Boston. But what is perhaps most exciting is that one of his coaches is that same Simon Shnapir. “It was really cool to meet an Olympian for the first time,” he remembers.
Brendan’s mom, Melissa, says that Brendan’s journey to The Skating Club of Boston grew out of online research to find classes for both him and for his sister.
“I had no idea that his interest would keep growing into the competitive arena,” she says, recalling her surprise that Club skaters were on the ice by 5 in the morning. “We learned that this can be a sport for people who really want to become good at it. They have to love it enough to keep going – and that’s why we’re still here.”
Adds Brendan: “Something that lit a big fire in me was when I landed my first double axel,” he says. “That made me want to work harder.”
That singular focus led last year to a New England Regional Singles Challenge silver medal in the juvenile division, advancing him to the Eastern Sectional Singles Final. He also had the thrilling opportunity to join the Theater On Ice team at the 2019 Nations’ Cup International Championships in France, where the team won the gold in the novice division.
Melissa and Brendan both credit his progress to Club coaches Shnapir and Amanda Farkas. “They are patient and really great at giving Brendan what he needs to keep reaching his goals,” Melissa says. “They are also part of the Club’s commitment to creating a supportive and encouraging place to learn,” she adds.
Brendan, for instance, earned a “step-out” at the Club’s annual show, Ice Chips, based on his placement at the New England Regionals competition. And it is no surprise to hear him looking ahead — even to the Olympics in 2026 or 2030.
“I think it’d be amazing to get the chance to compete at a competition that happens only every four years,” he says. “Just to make it there would feel great.”