Former competitive figure skater and Olympian Isabella Tobias Lites talks about competing in Sochi, her fairytale wedding and her favorite local spots in 20 Questions.
By Rachel Schostak
Featured image by Abby Rose Photo
1. Tell us about your background? I was born and raised in the Big Apple, New York. I moved to Michigan at 18 years old to pursue my lifelong passion for ice dancing and happened to find the love of my life here, my incredible husband, Sam. I recently retired from competitive skating after enjoying a career spanning 22 years, and am currently working toward finishing my degree at the University of Michigan, with a focus in sports psychology. I also am looking to get involved in the beauty industry, which my friends and family can attest is another lifelong passion of mine.
2. How did you get started, and how old were you when you started skating? Figure skating, for me, was love at first sight; one day, at 5 years old, I saw Tara Lipinski skating on TV, and was absolutely captivated by it. I went to the rink soon after and never looked back.
3. How has skating impacted your life? Skating has made a humongous impact on my life; it taught me perseverance and discipline and gave me a work ethic that I will carry with me in anything I do. I learned that in skating, as in life, nothing is handed to you (quite the opposite), and to have a chance at being one of the best, you have to push yourself harder than you ever thought you could, both mentally and physically.
4. Are there any moments throughout your career that really stand out? The moment that has to stand out for me the most throughout my career was competing in the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. Participating in the Olympic Games was the culmination of a lifelong dedication to my sport and the realization of my childhood dream; every figure skater’s ultimate goal is to become an Olympian. My experience in Sochi was even more incredible than I imagined it could be, especially due to Sammy and most of my closest family being there with me.
5. What is your favorite thing about your job? My favorite thing about being a figure skater is that I got to do something that I passionately loved, with all my heart, as a career. I am incredibly lucky.
Now, on to some wedding questions…
6. If you don’t mind sharing, how did Sam propose? Sammy proposed to me during a trip to Tel Aviv, Israel for one of my skating competitions. We were staying at an incredible hotel that had a rooftop deck with a view of the entire city skyline. One evening before dinner, he asked me to go upstairs with him for a drink; the doors of the elevator opened to a scene of rose petals and candles engulfing the deck, the skyscrapers glittering in the distance. He got down on one knee, and the rest is history.
7. One word to describe your wedding style? Can I pick two? Timeless and romantic.
8. Did you know the moment you saw your dress that it was the one? Absolutely. I had an incredibly specific vision of what I wanted; I knew I wanted a dramatic ballgown skirt and some type of sheer long sleeve, almost like an updated version of Cinderella’s wedding dress in the Disney animated classic. Low and behold, there was the exact dress I had envisioned, hanging on the first rack at the Vera Wang Bridal Boutique on Madison Avenue; it had just arrived at the shop that day and was being sent off to the trunk show the next day. Talk about meant to be, right?
9. What did you love most about your wedding? Honestly, I know this is so cliché, but the love in the room. There is something so overwhelmingly beautiful about having all of your favorite people, that you love most in the world, in one room at the same time. Just seeing people that you care for so deeply, from all different stages of your life, coming together, connecting and becoming friends…I can’t even describe how joyful that made us. You can have a wedding as lavish and beautiful as you want; all that matters, truly, is the love in the room.
10. Accessory or possession you can’t leave home without? My wedding ring.
11. One word to describe your style? Classic.
12. Where do you find style + fashion inspiration? My biggest style and fashion inspiration hands down is my mom. She is the chicest woman I have ever met; most of the time I end up wearing her clothes.
14. Best style advice ever received? You can never wear too much black.
15. You’re never fully dressed without… A smile, of course!
16. Name one style rule you think all women should break? All rules. Wear what makes you happy and be yourself!
Now, on to some local love…
17. What are a few local boutiques or places you love to shop at in your neighborhood or around Metro Detroit? Troy Murray is an incredibly gifted local artist. His gallery in Birmingham, TYP Collection, is truly breathtaking. Wachler Estate is a beautiful jewelry shop, also in Birmingham, for timeless pieces at reasonable prices; Gary, Sue and David Wachler are lovely. Also, who doesn’t love Somerset?
18. Favorite local restaurant? Phoenicia in Birmingham. Two words: the ribs.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? Live your life with enthusiasm and joy. That is the last thing my grandfather ever said to me, and it resonates with me very deeply.
Click the link to read more about Isabella and Sam’s fairytale wedding.