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UP CLOSE; Mimi shows many talents

February 20, 2015
By SHAUN KITTLE - Outdoors Writer (skittle@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - It took a wild ride to bring Mimi Frantz to Lake Placid, but she's far from settled.

If one had to assign a title to Frantz that somehow encapsulated everything she does, it might be something like "professional multi-tasker" or "creative collaborator."

The nature of her work as an events coordinator with Juniper Events and Designs demands those things, and that's how her life is. When she's not juggling a dozen-or-so things to make a wedding or event happen, she's teaching yoga or coaching figure skaters for the Empire State Games. She's also a wife and a mother of three boys: Kai, 12, Tate, 9 and Trey, 7.

Article Photos

Among the many hats worn by Mimi Frantz of Lake Placid is events coordinator.
(Photo — Barrie Fisher)

Frantz moved to Lake Placid in 1997. She grew up in East Greenbush, just outside of Albany.

Frantz was so young she when she first tried ice skating that she can't remember the exact age anymore, but one thing she's certain of is that she loved it. Since there wasn't year-round ice in East Greenbush, Frantz traveled to Lake Placid in the summer to train. One day, unexpectedly, her training paid off.

"I was able to get an ice dancing partner as a 17-year-old," Frantz said. "Normally, there's so few guys to girls that it's very rare you'd get a partner, and they're only at the elite centers."

Frantz wanted to be a singles skater, but she said that window closes by the time skaters are 16 or 17, so she switched to ice dancing. Usually, the women have to seek out the men and must travel to audition, but it didn't happen that way for Frantz.

"I was in our school play at the time, so I told this partner who was interested in trying out with me, because I was so naive, that I couldn't get away," Frantz said. "He flew up to my crappy little rink and auditioned with me there. Looking back, that was such audacity on my part."

Frantz was ahead in her high school course work, so she left home to train for skating in Delaware, where she also began attending the University of Delaware.

The partner who chose her was at the senior level, which is the Olympic level, so Frantz didn't have to work her way up through the ranks. That's rare. The year they got together, Frantz competed in the senior nationals competition. She was 18.

"I was kind of star-struck by the people I was on the ice with," Frantz said. "It was like, I would be more likely to get their autograph than to be competing against them. And there I was. I was just catapulted into this amazing opportunity. I got really lucky."

Frantz spent a year-and-a-half with her first partner, and then moved on to a newer, younger partner named Collin Sullivan, who pursued her while she was competing in the nationals.

That partnership brought her to Boston. Frantz trained there and attended the Harvard Extension School before transferring to Emerson College, where she finished her degree.

After Frantz and Sullivan realized they couldn't compete in the 1994 Olympics because a decision had been made to allow retired skaters to compete again, thus pushing them out, the partners decided they didn't want to wait another four years for the next Games.

"At the time, I was 23 and I felt like I might as well finish up my degree and see what else I can be when I grow up before I'm too old and have too many eggs in the skating basket," Frantz said.

Like many things in Frantz's life, her major was a multi-tasker's dream-come-true.

"I made up my major," Frantz said. "I had so many interests, and I wanted to take course work in so many different things that I didn't want to be stuck in a major, so it was 'creative communications,' because I wanted to do a lot with the arts but I also wanted to communicate."

A 'creative communications' major meant she did coursework in film, theater, writing, public relations, fine arts and creative arts.

Even with a degree in hand, Frantz wasn't finished skating. She and Sullivan reunited and became principal skaters for the Ice Capades. That was when 1976 Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill, who inspired Frantz to figure skate, owned the Ice Capades.

"I had the Dorothy Hamill haircut and everything," Frantz said with a laugh. "Watching Dorothy Hamill figure skate in the Olympics was one of the reasons I was interested in skating in the first place."

Frantz has no regrets, but she admits the Ice Capades weren't everything she thought they would be.

"I thought that it would make my world very big, traveling, and it made my world very small because it was the bus or plane or hotel, 25 people and a show to do two or three times a week," Frantz said. "It was pretty focused with the skating."

The show folded during her contract, so Frantz made a blind move to Manhattan to look for opportunities. While there she studied yoga, did television production with ABC sports, and skated and did choreography for a professional company called Ice Theater New York.

The chaos of New York City wore on Frantz, and she said she hadn't found anything to professionally ground her there, either.

When an ice skating coach from Lake Placid called to ask if she wanted to help choreograph individual skater's routines, Frantz said yes and spent six non-winter months doing that.

It was during her stay in the region that she met Ben Frantz, who was then the assistant manager of Eastern Mountain Sports in Lake Placid, when she stopped in the store to get a new buckle for her backpack.

"I later learned he gave me the buckle off of his backpack," Frantz said. "He said they just had one in the back laying around because they didn't sell what I needed. I didn't realize that until I saw his pack at one point, and it didn't have a buckle."

Ben had moved to the area from Peterborough, New Hampshire, because he liked the climbing here. Frantz had started climbing at a gym in New York, and asked Ben about climbing on rock. He enthusiastically volunteered to take her.

The two started going on adventures that included mountain biking, climbing, hiking, kayaking and a host of other firsts for Frantz. She said those new experiences, coupled with a closeness she felt to spirituality while in the mountains, inspired her move to Lake Placid. She married Ben in 2001.

For all of her day-to-day productiveness, Frantz said there's an aspect of living here that she's never found anywhere else - a deep sense of quiet.

"The experiences I started to collect, whether it was paddling to a campsite, sitting by a campfire or standing on top of a mountain, where I experienced a stillness I hadn't experienced before - I felt a peace that I knew I needed more of," Frantz said. "It's a personal stillness of communing with nature. It's a quieting of the mind. I think I had a need for it, and I found it by being here."

 
 

 

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