Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

County speedskaters glide to glory

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Speedskaters from the Potomac Speedskating Club came out on top Aug. 10 at the Coventry Commonwealth Games of Virginia, an Olympic-style sporting event for amateur sports enthusiasts.

The Arlington-based Potomac Speedskating Club, formed in May, is geared to develop skills for speedskaters of all ages, and many of its members hail from Montgomery County.

The group is comprised of about 60 members and coached by Dong-Sung Kim, an Olympic speedskating gold medalist from Korea.

"He is all business," said Alison Mittelstadt, of Bethesda, who joined the group with her daughter Sophie, 10. "He is very serious and he's brought the best of Korean coaching techniques with him to the U.S."

At the meet – the first major event for the group -- Shaner Lebauer, 12, of Potomac, won the competition for his division at the games.

Lebauer skated along with his brother Nathan, 10, who won a silver medal for his age division. The brothers attend Sidwell Friends School in Northwest Washington.

Fellow Montgomery County residents Sophie Mittelstadt and Rochel Roland, of Kensington, also received silver medals for their age groups.

Roland, in an adult division, owns a business in Bethesda.

Another Potomac resident and student at the Landon School, T.J. Vongkovit, came in seventh in his division.

All in all, the club won seven gold, seven silver and three bronze medals at the meet. The meet was the first of the speedskating season, which runs from August until the national championships in Michigan in March, Mittelstadt said.

However, she said, there's no "off-season" for the sport. The team members have been training hard all summer, usually about six days a week. Skaters train both on ice and off to develop the muscles necessary to maintain the exaggerated "crouch" form necessary for speedskaters.

"[Kim] really runs it like an elite Olympic training center – he's invested in these children long-term and he expects them to really make a serious commitment to the sport."

Mittelstadt said that the team members will continue to focus on success at the National Championships, and are hoping to eventually host an event similar to the Virginia meet.

To learn more about the Potomac Speedskating Club, visit

Back to school memories

What was it like the first time you (or your kids) boarded the school bus and left summer behind? How long did it take you to pick out the perfect back-to-school outfit? Do you have a plan for getting the best deal on school supplies? Tell us about it!

The Gazette wants to hear all your back-to-school memories, from first-day jitters and disasters, to making fast friends with your desk- or office-mate. Montgomery County Public Schools open Aug. 26, so send us your photos and share your memories by Aug. 21.

Photos and stories will be considered for print and online. E-mail us at or write to The Gaithersburg Gazette, 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD, 20877.

Bethesda resident undertakes fundraising campaign for emergency shelter

As a member of the Montgomery County Republican Central Committee, Bethesda resident Robert Dyer has been encouraging Republicans to become more involved with the cause of domestic violence.

Dyer's current effort is to raise funds for Heartly House in Frederick. Heartly House provides services and emergency shelter to victims of domestic violence, and operates a 24-hour Domestic Violence Crisis Hotline.

To participate in the fundraising drive visit and click on "Support Us." Follow the instructions and make a contribution of any amount to Heartly House. After you have made a donation, send Dyer an e-mail at to tell him what you donated so your generosity can be recognized at the end of the campaign.

Donations to Heartly House are tax-deductible. "This is a very worthy cause and even a small contribution will make a difference," Dyer wrote in an e-mail.

On campus

Zach Klitzman, a 2006 graduate of Walt Whitman High School, was named to the Dean's List for the 2007-2008 academic year at the University of Pennsylvania, College of Arts and Sciences, where he is a rising junior and history major. In June and July, he studied Spanish history and Spanish literature at the University of Alicante in Alicante, Spain where one weekend he went to Pamplona in northern Spain and to run with the bulls. This month he is working as an interpretive guide at the recently restored Victorian "Lincoln's Cottage," where President Lincoln lived with his family during the Civil War and where Lincoln plotted war strategy and wrote the Emancipation Proclamation.

Temple Shalom welcomes new cantor

Temple Shalom, a Reform Jewish congregation in Chevy Chase, is welcoming Cantor Lisa Levine this summer.

Levine is the congregation's first full-time invested Reform cantor. Investiture is the cantorial equivalent of ordination for rabbis. Previously, throughout the congregation's 50-year history, Temple Shalom had been served by part-time cantors or non-ordained cantorial soloists.

Ordained in 1989, Levine is one of the leading contemporary religious composers and most accomplished cantors in the entire Reform movement. Her compositions are sung every week in worship across North America.

Levine and Senior Rabbi Michael Feshbach studied together during their junior year of college in Israel and went on to study and graduate together as members of the Hebrew Union College class of 1989.

There will be a special "Meet the Cantor" service on Aug. 29. For more information, visit

OWL comes to county

OWL, a national grassroots organization that focuses exclusively on issues unique to aging women, has formed a Montgomery County chapter of the Midlife and Older Women's League. The nonprofit organization has chapters across the country that conduct research, education and advocacy activities to improve the status and quality of the lives of midlife and older women. For information, call 301-951-3920.

This column is for you. Share your good news! Feel free to send press releases and news tips. Contact Stephanie Siegel via e-mail at, phone at 301-280-3006, fax at 301-670-7183, or snail mail at 9030 Comprint Court, Gaithersburg, MD 20877.