Transplanted French athlete enjoying success as Okie 

Mention figure skating, and thoughts of firearms and marksmanship really don't come to mind. In fact, it would be fair to say the two are pretty much on opposite ends of the sports spectrum. That's what makes Clarence Robinet's latest accomplishment not only unique, but impressive.

Recently, the French-born Oklahoma City resident successfully defended her women's free skate figure skating title at the 2009 State Games of America, and then for an encore, captured gold in the women's 22-caliber pistol shooting competition.

It was the perfect ending to a weekend that began with Gov. Brad Henry declaring July 30 in Oklahoma City "Clarence Robinet Day," the same day Robinet proudly toted the Oklahoma flag in the State Games of America's opening ceremony in Colorado Springs, Colo.

"I'm very excited about my performance," said the 36-year-old Robinet. "I was extremely proud to carry the state flag and represent Oklahoma, and then to win gold in two different events " that's special."

A multisport competition sanctioned by the U.S. Olympic Committee every two years, the State Games of America feature top competitors from all 50 states. Robinet was among the skating favorites again this year, but went into the shooting event as a relative unknown, having just taken up the sport a mere two years ago.

She repeated her title in Female Solo Free Skate on Aug. 1 and then earned double-champion status two days later by placing first in the Female Open International Sport Pistol event.

Same results, two completely different sports.

"They really are different," Robinet said. "Skating is all about motion, while shooting is the exact opposite. But there are common traits in both, like concentration, dedication and hard work."

Robinet moved to Oklahoma City in 2003 when she was hired to teach French classes at OKC Downtown College, a consortium of state colleges and universities that conduct classes at the Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library. She has dedicated much of her spare time over the years to skating, a sport she learned as a child growing up in France. In 2007, a year after earning U.S. citizenship, she added shooting to her repertoire.

When she isn't skating or shooting, she slips into her cowgirl boots and dances competitively. This past year, she was a gold medalist at the United Country Western Dance Council World Championships in Nashville, Tenn.

"I like to challenge myself, stay active. I love to compete," said Robinet, who is fluent in five languages. She also sings and somehow finds time to do ballet. One of the key factors to her recent success is her surroundings.

"Oklahoma was a culture shock at first, but I fell in love with it here. It's a great place to live," she said. "I discovered country music when I moved here, and that's become a passion of mine, too."

Robinet seems to excel in whatever activity she chooses. Next on her list is anybody's guess.

For now, she's happy with her success in the ice rink and on the shooting range. Over the last eight months, she has captured 25 gold medals and one bronze while competing in various events across the country. "Jay C. Upchurch

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Jay C. Upchurch

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