Interview With Lynn Kriengkrairut And Logan Giulietti-Schmitt
Teaming up in 2006, Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt (or Lynn and Logan because it's just easier) are two skaters with everything going for them. Do you know who their skating reminds me of? That great choreography, presence and fabulous program choice thing they have going on almost reminds me of Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre. At any rate, since teaming up Lynn and Logan have proved to be an immensely popular team with skating fans and judges alike. In 7 trips to the U.S. National Championships, they have finished among the top 5 teams the last three years. The last two years they have won the Ice Challenge international competition in Austria, beating internationally experienced teams from the Ukraine, Hungary, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Australia and around the world. They have also competed internationally at events like the Junior World Championships, NHK Trophy, Skate America and Cup Of Russia. This year, they parted ways with long time coaches and choreographers Yaroslava Nechaeva and Yuri Chesnichenko and went to train with Igor Shpilband and are busier than ever preparing for this... the Olympic season. We talked about Shpilband, program choices, goals for this season, what it means to be a little different from the pack and more:
Q: You are coached by Igor Shpilband, who is certainly one of the most eminent ice dancing coaches and choreographers out there. What is the most valuable thing he has taught you?
A: He has really taught us how to own our skating and movement within our programs by allowing us to be part of the choreographic process. He wants us to be 100% comfortable with our steps so that we can be more confident in our performance, which is quite a bit different then what we were used to.
Q: It’s interesting that under the same sets of rules in ice dancing, you always have such great variety in what you are presenting. In such a competitive field, how do you stand out? What makes you different?
A: We’ve often thought hard about ways to be different, but sometimes the answer is right in front of us. On the first day with Igor, he had us improvise to whatever music he played. There were no rules. It was just the music and however it told us to move. For once, there was no right or wrong. Though technique and execution of the elements do matter, it’s the details in between that can make us unique. Interpreting the music as we genuinely feel it is our dialogue with the audience, so it’s important to truly love what you are skating to and execute movements as they naturally come to you. Dance is not necessarily about who’s the best but more about the dialogues between the dancers and the music, between the dancers themselves, and between the dancers and the audience.
Q: I can't tell you how much I have truly appreciated your music choices over the years. I'm a HUGE fan of Imelda May ("Pulling The Rug" is one of my favourites! - someone needs to skate to it - just sayin') and Adele as well and am very interested by the fact that you have gone in a more traditional direction musically this year and chosen "Spartacus" for your free dance. What can you share about your program development/theme and music selections this year?
A: We have explored a variety of themes for our programs over the past seven years and discovered our niche in contemporary music. However, we always strive to stretch our boundaries and wanted a whole new look for ourselves this year. We knew we wanted to explore something more traditional and we did some improvisation to a variety of more classical music selections and finally chose Spartacus because of its familiarity, its beauty, and its power. The music is so rich and evokes something so pure within, and that’s when you know you have found exactly what you were looking for. In contrast, we’ve selected something less traditional for our quickstep/Charleston short dance. It’s really fun and quirky. Over the years, we have developed an appreciation and connection with many different styles, so being able to have two completely opposite styles in our two programs this season is so much fun for us and shows our versatility as performers.
Q: Who are your favourite singers or bands of all time?
A from Lynn: Some of my favourites are Adele (of course), Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, and the Beatles.
A from Logan: Some of my favourites range from Arcade Fire, Matt and Kim, Muse and Radiohead to Jay-Z, Common, and Chiddy Bang.
Q: Who do you think are the most underrated ice dancers of all time? What about the very best?
A: We have always been big fans of Naomi Lang and Peter Tchernyshev for their style, passion and connection with each other. We’ve also admired the Duchesnay’s for how ahead of their time and unique they were.
Q: Totally agree with you about the Duchesnay's! Having won the Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria the last three years and finished 4th at Skate America and 3rd at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic last season, you are certainly at a point in your skating careers where you are making international judges TAKE NOTE. What do you love most about international competition as opposed to competing within your own country?
A: We love exposing ourselves to new environments and opportunities, so we’ve always enjoyed international competition. It creates more of a challenge to show people that may not have seen us skate before what we have to offer and this is extremely exciting for us.
Q: What is the one area of your skating you are focusing the most on improving right now?
A: We want to develop a new look to our skating and make an emotional and powerful impact on the audience.
Q: What's one thing most people don't know about each of you?
A: We are both pretty big nerds at heart in different ways. Lynn loves biological sciences and neurology... Logan is fascinated by natural sciences and has a rock, coin, stamp, and baseball card collection.
Q: You are both university graduates - congratulations! How hard was finding the time to focus on your studies and skate on an elite level at the same time, while trying to have a personal life at the same time? What is your secret to time management?
A: It was definitely difficult, and honestly, the secret is that there is no secret. There are no shortcuts. Something that is hard to achieve is hard to achieve for a reason. Skating has taught us both to be very disciplined starting at a young age, and that discipline has carried over in other aspects of our lives as well. We know that skating takes a toll on our bodies (and our wallets) and we can’t keep doing it forever. Through our studies, we were able to engage in other fields of interests off the ice, and we know there will be many opportunities for us to explore when our skating career is over. It does help to genuinely love what you are doing (both on and off the ice). Even though things were not always easy, there were always times when we felt like the hard work wasn’t even hard work at all.
Q: What are your ultimate goals for this season and how do you plan on achieving them? What do you see as your long-term involvement in the figure skating world?
A: Our ultimate goal is to qualify for the World and Olympic teams. We have taken a new approach to this season and are excited about our programs. We enjoy working with so many different coaches with different areas of expertise. It’s this collaboration of efforts that makes the whole package come together and we really feel that we are developing a whole new look to our skating. Skating has been such a big part of our lives for so long, so we’re sure we will always be involved in it somehow, whether it be coaching, doing shows, skating recreationally or simply as audience members.
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