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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


UA doctor balances work at UAMC with figure skating


Photo courtesy of Brenda Wittman

Brenda Wittman, a UA doctor, participated in the ISU Adult Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany last summer.

Brenda Wittman has to balance being a doctor and practicing for figure-skating competitions on a weekly basis.

Wittman is a pediatric oncologist and hematologist at the University of Arizona Medical Center.

When she isn’t on call, she takes two mornings a week and sacrifices sleep to drive up to Scottsdale and get some practice on the ice. She leaves her house at 2:45am, skates from 5 a.m. to 6:45 a.m., then returns to Tucson.

Wittman spends her free time or days off teaching with the Learn to Skate program for the Tucson Figure Skating Club.

Gail Langley, Wittman’s longtime friend and president of TFSC, used to drive her daughter and Wittman to the rink in Scottsdale, and noted how incredible it is that Wittman now skates on her own.

“What she does is pretty remarkable,” Langley said. “Skating alone takes a lot out of you, but then she comes back and works with the children … which is pretty amazing.”

Wittman said she started skating when she was 13, after deciding she didn’t like softball or soccer as much. This passion has stayed with her ever since. Most of the competitors have other jobs to go along with skating, but hers is truly special, she said.

“It’s nice to have something that’s goal-oriented to do, that’s not medicine,” Wittman said. “I like the skating because there’s always something I can improve on, but it’s also completely different from working at the hospital.”

While she has always participated in small, local competitions, Wittman now joins adult competitions as well.

During the summer, Wittman participated in two adult competitions. The first was the International Skating Union’s International Adult Figure Skating Competition in Oberstdorf, Germany. Any adult member of the ISU was eligible to go, and approximately 25 countries were represented. Her second international adult competition, called “White Nights,” was in St. Petersburg, Russia.

She was the only skater from the U.S., and took first place in three events.

Her colleague, Dr. Lisa Kopp has known Wittman for about three-and-a-half years from working with her at the hospital.

“She is very compassionate and caring with all of her patients, and puts 100 percent effort into all of their care,” Kopp said. “As a colleague, she is always willing to step up. If I need something, she is always willing to help me.”

Wittman said she plans to compete in Pacific Coast Adult Sectionals, a competition that pits ice-skaters in the western third of the country against each other, in March 2014. If she places at sectionals, she will move on to compete in U.S. Adult Championships in April 2014 in Hyannis, Mass.

“As we’ve been working out our schedule [at UAMC] for the year, I just let them know, ‘Hey, I have nationals this week,’” Wittman said. “We have enough people to cover each other at this point, but sometimes it gets a bit tricky. A lot of times as soon as I get back, I’m on call again.”

A previous version of this story said Brenda Wittman participated in her first adult competition last summer. Wittman has participated in adult competitions in previous years. The article has been corrected to reflect this change.

– Follow Katie Bickell @KatieNewsAZ

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