Sunday, 28 April 2013

The 2013 Irish National Figure Skating Championships

Considering it's geographical proximity to Great Britain, a country steeped in skating tradition and its rich history, it's very surprising to realize that Ireland is one of the new kids on the ISU block. However, with a spirited and enthusiastic crew of organizers, judges, officials and skaters, Ireland's skating federation, the Ice Skating Association Of Ireland (ISAI), is quickly raising the profile of a lovable sport in their country and Irish eyes are definitely smiling at superb Salchows, spirals and spin combinations.

On April 28, Irish skaters converged on the Dundonald International Ice Bowl in Belfast, Ireland for the 2013 Irish National Championships, with seven different events being contested throughout the day. Clara Peters won the senior ladies title yet again with a score of 95.43, while the senior men's gold medal went to Brendan Dorrian, with a score of 93.07. Junior men's gold was won by Conor Stakelum, with a score of 94.76 (the second best in the entire competition) and the junior ladies title went to Deirdre Feagre, with a total score of 43.68.

Sean Gillis, the Communications and Media Director for ISAI, explained "figure skating is a very young sport in Ireland and with a relatively short history compared to places like Canada, the US or Russia. We are very much at the beginning of our journey as a sport in this country. However, being able to hold an annual national championships as we have for the past number of years has been hugely important in raising the profile of figure skating here. There has undoubtedly been a lot more coverage in the local media due to this and we hope that this will translate into increased interest and funding for the sport. Of course, getting more people to take up skating is another goal of ours and the lessons that the ISAI has run the past few winters at temporary rinks have introduced the sport to a whole new generation who we hope will go on to develop and compete for Ireland internationally."

Their skaters are achieving some great things already in international competition. Clara Peters, the reigning senior ladies champion, may be lacking in the triple jump count but what she lacks in technical difficulty she has certainly made up for in her sensitivity to music and well choreographed programs. Four times, she has represented Ireland at both the World Figure Skating Championships and European Figure Skating Championships, her best result at the World Championships coming in 2012, when she placed 29th in a field of 51 ladies skaters. Peters will be among the skaters vying for an Olympic spot this fall at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. The first skater to represent Ireland internationally, Peters currently trains in the U.S. under the tutelage of Karen and Ron Ludington. This is her fourth Irish national title.


Brendan Dorrian began his skating career skating for Great Britain, placing in the top ten at the British National Championships more than once before deciding to represent Ireland and winning their national title, a feat he duplicated again this year. Having started skating at the age of ten, Dorrian is surely another Irish skater who hopes to realize his Olympic dream by competing and qualifying in the Nebelhorn Trophy competition this fall.

With so many new nations taking up the sport competitively, it is absolutely heartwearming to see people across the globe flocking to the ice. Like music, skating is universal and I sincerely hope to see Ireland's skating program and skaters continue to develop and receive more funding and support in years to come - and that the pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with gold medals.

For more information on skating in Ireland and its history, please visit Considering it's geographical proximity to Great Britain, a country steeped in skating tradition and its rich history, it's very surprising to realize that Ireland is one of the new kids on the ISU block. However, with a spirited and enthusiastic crew of organizers, judges, officials and skaters, Ireland's skating federation, the Ice Skating Association Of Ireland (ISAI), is quickly raising the profile of a lovable sport in their country and Irish eyes are definitely smiling at superb Salchows, spirals and spin combinations.

On April 28, Irish skaters converged on the Dundonald International Ice Bowl in Belfast, Ireland for the 2013 Irish National Championships, with seven different events being contested throughout the day. Clara Peters won the senior ladies title yet again with a score of 95.43, while the senior men's gold medal went to Brendan Dorrian, with a score of 93.07. Junior men's gold was won by Conor Stakelum, with a score of 94.76 (the second best in the entire competition) and the junior ladies title went to Deirdre Feagre, with a total score of 43.68.

Sean Gillis explained "figure skating is a very young sport in Ireland and with a relatively short history compared to places like Canada, the U.S. or Russia. We are very much at the beginning of our journey as a sport in this country. However, being able to hold an annual national championships as we have for the past number of years has been hugely important in raising the profile of figure skating here. There has undoubtedly been a lot more coverage in the local media due to this and we hope that this will translate into increased interest and funding for the sport. Of course, getting more people to take up skating is another goal of ours and the lessons that the ISAI has run the past few winters at temporary rinks have introduced the sport to a whole new generation who we hope will go on to develop and compete for Ireland internationally."

Their skaters are achieving some great things already in international competition. Clara Peters, the reigning senior ladies champion, may be lacking in the triple jump count but what she lacks in technical difficulty she has certainly made up for in her sensitivity to music and well choreographed programs. Four times, she has represented Ireland at both the World Figure Skating Championships and European Figure Skating Championships, her best result at the World Championships coming in 2012, when she placed 29th in a field of 51 ladies skaters. Peters will be among the skaters vying for an Olympic spot this fall at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Germany. The first skater to represent Ireland internationally, Peters currently trains in the U.S. under the tutelage of Karen and Ron Ludington. This is her fourth Irish national title.

Brendan Dorrian began his skating career skating for Great Britain, placing in the top ten at the British National Championships more than once before deciding to represent Ireland and winning their national title, a feat he duplicated again this year. Having started skating at the age of ten, Dorrian is surely another Irish skater who hopes to realize his Olympic dream by competing and qualifying in the Nebelhorn Trophy competition this fall.

With so many new nations taking up the sport competitively, it is absolutely heartwearming to see people across the globe flocking to the ice. Like music, skating is universal and I sincerely hope to see Ireland's skating program and skaters continue to develop and receive more funding and support in years to come - and that the pot at the end of the rainbow is filled with gold medals.

For more information on skating in Ireland and its history, please visit http://isai.ie/about/history.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Tricks Of The Trade

As awe inspiring as the triple jumps, flexible spins and fancy footwork of the sport can be, skating would be nowhere without the dangerous and theatrical tricks that pepper not only ISU eligible but professional skating to this day. Imagine a sport without a Detroiter, a backflip or any of the other more "extreme" skating tricks that have elicited "ooo's", "aaa's" and "OH HAYYYYYYYY"'s from audiences for decades? I sure can't. Let's take a minute to look at a few of skating's greatest tricks of the trade:

THE CANTILEVER


If you don't dance and just pull up your pants, you might be leaning back... and that's how the Cantilever is done. A variation on the spread eagle, a common skating move in the field where skaters glide on both feet, toes turned outward to the sides with heels facing each other, the Cantilever is a thrilling and gravity inspiring skating element with it's historical origins in early show skating.

The Cantilever was invented by Werner Groebli, a Swiss skater who moved to the U.S. in 1937 and joined the cast of Ice Follies as a comedic show skater in 1939. In his long career as a professional figure skater, Groebli estimated he performed more than 12,000 shows before retiring at age 65 after injuring himself while skating in 1980 after an untimely collision with the boards. He performed the "backbend Cantilever" as a signature element with his skating partner. While Frick Cantilevered, Frack would skate in the other direction, hydroblading. The Cantilever can best be described as an element that sees skaters take on an inside spread eagle position and contort their bodies so that they are leaning backwards in a layback position with their head almost touching the ice. Adapted from Groebli ("Mr. Frick")'s comedic routines with Hansruedi Mauch ("Mr. Frack"), the contortionist like trick has been popularized by show skaters and ISU eligible athletes for decades since then, among them Canada's Shawn Sawyer, America's Doug Mattis and Ross Miner, Sweden's Adrian Schultheiss, Russia's Ilia Klimkin and even the Russian pairs team of Lubov Iliushechkina and Nodari Maisuradze, who have incorporated the spectacular and awe inspiring trick as both a solo and pair connecting movement in their programs.

HYDROBLADING


Hydroblading, a term coined by Uschi Keszler, the coach of World Champions Shae-Lynn and Victor Kraatz, who popularized the move is an extension of a deep inside or outside edge with the skater's body stretched in a very low and horizontal position to the ice. The most common version of hydroblading is on a back inside edge, with the skater's free leg crossed behind and the knee deeply bend and extended outside the circle, with the upper body leaning into the circle. I used to love hydroblading when I skated, and would always start by doing a back shoot the duck position then leaning into the edge and coming up in a back spin. It's certainly a dramatic move when performed well and definitely showcases the strength of skater's edges.

FLY HIGH, SAY BYE



Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler were 1993 World Champions, and after turning professional, basically wrote the book on dangerous and crowd pleasing adagio pairs tricks, inventing many new adagio moves including the "Fly High, Say Bye", where Lloyd basically tosses Isabelle over his head like a pizza pie, catches and releases her. It's one of many acrobatic tricks that Isabelle and Lloyd invented, many of which have not been performed since or certainly not with the same confidence.

THE BACKFLIP



If you want the audience to go beserk, you might want to do a backflip. It is a standard of professional skating, mainly because it was banned from ISU/amateur competition after Terry Kubicka performed it at the 1976 Olympic Winter Games and the association deemed it too dangerous. A backflip is essentially just as it sounds - a reverse somersault in the air. Many skaters have performed it over the years - from Scott Hamilton to Brian Orser to Robin Cousins and Ryan Bradley, among countless, countless others. A smaller group of women have ever successfully attempted this move - Lori Benton, Ashley Clark, Rory Flack Burghart among them. Surya Bonaly lands it both on two feet, and daringly, on one foot and straight into a double or triple Salchow. Now that's just cray cray! Even more cray cray is an adaptation that Michael Weiss performs, where he actually twists in the air while performing this daring move. I don't know how skaters do it, and still think it's the coolest thing ever. Just putting that out there.

THE HEADBANGER


It doesn't get any more dangerous that the headbanger or "bounce spin". Like the backflip, it is considered illegal in ISU/amateur competition. The risky pairs move is performed by the man swinging the lady around with both of her feet off the ice, supported only by the man's grip on her ankle. The lady is elevated and lowered during the spin, often with her head coming shockingly close to skimming the ice. Many professional pairs teams have popularized this move over the years, including Isabelle Brasseur and Lloyd Eisler, Calla Urbanski and Rocky Marval and Anita Hartshorn and Frank Sweiding, who perhaps have the best in the business. It's always met by shocked and audible gasps from any audience that witnesses it.

Show skating wouldn't be what it is without these gravity defying tricks of the trade or the skaters who dazzle the world with them. With so many other ingenius and creative movements and acrobatic feats out there, especially with the popularity of adagio pairs skating and some of the completely outrageous show act skating we see featuring aerial acrobatics, fire eating, barrel rolls and even Gary Beacom and Gia Guddat with skates on their hands, the old saying "everyone has a gimmick" rings true in every good professional figure skater's resume. The fact of the matter is, there's nothing wrong with a gimmick here and there. The goal of show skating is to thrill and entertain an audience, and if you can find a trick to it you're a step above the rest.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Interview With John Hamer


Nigel Sutton photo

Making the transition from competitor to show skater to coach isn't always easy for every skater, but 3 time British Champion John Hamer is one skater that was able to do it with ease. I can certainly relate with John Hamer starting his skating career at age 11 (which is relatively late in the skating world), having started later than most skaters myself. Success was at every turn for this determined skater, transitioning from winning the British junior men's title in 2003 to moving from 9th in his senior debut at British Nationals the following year to winning the British National Championships the following three years and represeting his country in 2 World Championships, 3 European Championships and other international competitions. After retiring in 2007, John Hamer went on to skate professionally, touring with the Russian All Stars for 3 years and skating in Kyran Bracken's Ice Party. Now in his 3rd year of coaching at Alexandra Palace in North London, England, Hamer's passion for the sport is certainly as much there as it ever was. I was fortunate enough to organize this interview with him:

Q: You are a 3 time British National Champion (2005-2007). What was your favourite and least favourite part about competing?

A: Looking back, my favourite part about competing would probably be the times when you know in your head that you're ready to go on that day. Sometimes you have to compete before you feel ready but that's sport. Those times you stand the there just before your music comes on, you have a complete moment of clarity about the next few minutes. Sometimes elements work - and sometimes they don't. But that calm when you're standing there is a great feeling that you only have a few times in your career. My least favourite thing would be when you can't compete - when you're injured or when you're ill. I made the mistake of competing when injured because I couldn't stand to not be out there. Because of that, I now have a few recurring injuries. Skaters must listen to their bodies - if they are injured, they must rest. Skating and competing is only a small part of your life and to cause a problem for yourself when you stop competing is just not worth it.


Q: Great Britain is rich in figure skating tradition, producing such skating stars as Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean, John Curry and Robin Cousins. Who is your favourite British skater?

A: It has to be Steve Cousins - he was British Champion when I started skating in 96/97. He was - and still is - a great ambassador for the Sport and a great competitor too! He competed at Olympic Games, which is a massive achievement for a British male skater! I was fortunate enough to be able to work with Steve in a show a few years back and he is one of the nicest guys in the sport. And, of course, an excellent skater!

Q: You twice represented Britain at the World Figure Skating Championships. What was the experience of skating at Worlds like for you?

A: The experience of competing at Worlds and Europeans is unlike no other. At the time, it was a whirlwind of practice ice and competition with more lights, people and TV cameras than I had ever seen before. I was fortunate enough to compete - and share practice ice - with World and European Champions such as Brian Joubert and Evgeni Plushenko. You learn so much from just being around skaters of that calibre. My first two Senior International competitions were actually Europeans and Worlds, both in 2005. Many people forget that I was not given an International competition in the 2004 season and left to my own devices. I believe this hindered my ability somewhat, as I was an unknown skater to the International judges. I did qualify at both of my World Championships but didn't skate brilliantly in the short programs, meaning I never made it to the final day. Watching worlds on TV since I stopped competing, I now understand how well I actually performed. At the time, though, it was extremely disappointing to not make finals day and you feel like you've let a lot of people down - parents, coaches, friends and family...


Q: You are now involved in coaching other skaters. What was the transition from competing to coaching other skaters like for you? What advice would you give people interested in getting involved in coaching?

A: I made the transition from skating to shows and then to coaching, so the transition is quite easy. Shows helped me understand more about performance quality and I feel I am able to better choreograph programs. The best thing for any good skater who thinks they would like to coach later in life is to complete their mentoring early and keep up with the eligibility paperwork. That way, when the time comes to stop competing (and it does happen to everyone despite what you think when you are a competitor!) you should be good to go immediately. Try to keep a record of your skating achievements and show them to the rink managers when you apply for jobs. If you've succeeded as an athlete, I feel it makes you better equipped to help skaters with a good potential. Also, don't lose sight of how difficult things can be (and actually were!) for you when you were learning. Very often you see that coaches don't appreciate the difficulty of some skating moves and lose patience with skaters. Be patient with students, too - anyone who thinks it's natural to lace thick leather boots with sharpened knives on the bottom is a little crazy! Let people try different styles of skating. Finally if, as a coach, you're unsure of the answer to a question or a problem, don't be afraid to ask for help! I work with four or five different coaches at Alexandra Palace, which also helps me learn more - resulting in my skaters improving quicker.

Q: Professional figure skating enjoyed a huge boom in the 1990's but the world of professional figure skating competitions and shows have waned in popularity. What are your thoughts on this and would you ever compete if professional competitions made a resurgence?

A: I think that professional competitions are very interesting and could make a comeback but unfortunately, Joe Bloggs is more interested in reality TV stars rather than sporting stars... If there was enough funding (sponsorship/advertising) I think it could find a place on TV. If there were ever such an event, I would be tempted by it. I'm actually tempted by the British Adult Championships but now, my job is to train others to achieve the highest level in their skating possible…

Q: How can the judging of figure skating be improved?

A: The judging in figure skating is better than ever with the IJS system. Skating is - and always will be - subjective, so you can never change a person's point of view. But so long as things continue to evolve from year to year, the scoring and judging can only get better.

Q: Dancing On Ice is huge in Britain and has really brought figure skating into the forefront like never before. What do you think makes the show so successful and which celebrity would you love to see compete someday who hasn't yet?

A: Dancing on Ice is a big success solely because of Jayne and Chris. Without their Olympic success and Chris's ingenuity and choreography, the show would not be as successful. I think we as a country are obsessed with celebrity and a lot of these shows are now just regurgitating reality TV personalities from one show to another. I'd like to see proper celebrities who have become successful through an actual skill rather than just being on Big Brother or The Only Way is Essex taking part instead.

Q: You toured with the Russian All Stars. Tell us a bit about this show and what makes it so unique.

A: Russian Ice Stars was a very unique experience, in that I was the only British performer to work with them. I even had to learn basic Russian to communicate, which was fun! They had a number of performers with special talents - one of which was to jump on a very small pad of ice. It took a while for me to get used to jumping under spotlights and on a theatre stage but after a few performances, I was able to jump triples on ice as small as 8x8 metres. Cirque de Glacé was a brilliant show put on by the company mixing circus performers with ice skaters and live music. I was very fortunate to be with that show from the very first day of rehearsals - and to go on to become one of the only original performers.

Q: Where is one place you would love to travel someday?

A: I'm planning on venturing to base camp at Mount Everest for my 30th birthday. This is quite a big excursion, so I am saving money now and trying to acquire the correct kit as I go, since some of the clothing required is quite expensive.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Interview With Kevin Alves


At the age of 21, Kevin Alves' accomplishments are nothing short of incredible. In 2008, he was the first male skater to represent Brazil at any ISU Championship. Since then, he was helped raise interest in the sport of figure skating in South America, competing at the World Championships twice, the Four Continents Championships four times and the World Junior Championships twice as well. Kevin is not only a charismatic and FUN skater to watch (who knows how to work a crowd), but his charisma and natural stage presence have translated into careers in modelling and acting. He is well known for his role as Fab on TV's "Degrassi: The Next Generation". Fighting back from injury, Kevin is now diving skates first back into the sport he loves and is training hard for the 2013/2014 figure skating season, where he hopes to become the first Brazilian men's skater to qualify for the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. I had the pleasure of interviewing this crazy talented skater and person:

Q: When people think figure skating, they don't necessarily think Brazil. What is figure skating like in South America and how has it has been to be a pioneer in bringing Brazilian skaters to the forefront?

A: Yes, It is true that Brazil is not known for its strength in numbers when it comes to figure skating but it has been amazing to see how much the sport has been growing in our country for the last 5 years. We went from having no skaters at all to have 3 skaters break through the top 100 in the ISU world rankings. I feel honored to be a part of the beginning of skating in Brazil.

Q: How has it worked training in North America and representing Brazil? Did you have to travel there regularly for a National Championship, etc.?

A: In the past, Brazil has used Four Continents as a way of deciding our ranking in Brazil so I have not had the opportunity to compete at nationals in Brazil yet but I have been down to Brazil numerous times in the past few years where I did take time to go skate at the rinks in Brazil. It was an amazing experience to see all the talented little skaters there and get to show them the things that they can one day do on the ice if they keep following their dreams.



Q: What is your biggest skating accomplishment to date? Your favourite performance?

A: My biggest accomplishment to date in the sport of Figure skating was probably being 27th at the World Championships in 2010 when I beat Nobunari Oda from Japan. My favorite performance ever was just a few weeks ago in Italy when I brought my "Samba Hop" program back for the first time since 2010. It was just so much fun because I love that program and the crowd was great, even the judges were smiling the whole time J not to mention I broke my personal best score in the short program.

Q: At what age did you start skating and where do you currently train?

A: I start skating when I was 7 years old and I currently train at the Richmond Training Center in Canada. Check out the Twitter page for our rink at http://twitter.com/richmondTC.



Q: In addition to being a very talented figure skater, you're also quite a popular actor, with a current role on "Degrassi: The Next Generation". How did you first get into acting and what has been your favourite role so far?

A: I got into acting when I was young and being a skater also made me love performing even more. I did some commercials when I was younger but put acting on hold when I was 14 to focus on skating. Last year when I was injured I had more time again to focus a bit on Acting so it has been great to book roles on a few shows but my favorite was working on Degrassi because my character to this date was very ambiguous and I love that. Now that I am healthy again, I am now focusing on the Olympics this year.

Q: Do you plan on competing next season?

A: Absolutely! I have already competed in Slovenia and Italy this past month and am going to compete in the USA in Buffalo in May. All roads lead to going after the Olympic spot for my country.



Q: Who are your figure skating idols?

A: My biggest figure skating Idol is Kurt Browning because as a kid he showed me how much fun skating and performing can be. I have had the privilege of working with him on my "Samba Hop" short program.

Q: What is your most embarrassing moment so far?

A: I do not get embarrassed easily but when it comes to skating I have one. In 2009 at the Four Continents Championships in Vancouver, I landed triple flip and triple lutz for the first time in competition during my short program and I became so excited that I rushed my easy double axel and fell on that :P Still was a big moment for me in moving forward as a skater and taught me to stay focused till the end of every program.

Q: What's your favourite song at the moment?

A: "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake because he is a genius and "Ai Se Eu Te Pego" by Michel Telo because it is such a feel good song to dance to.


Q: What is one thing you would say to a young person who doesn't believe in themselves?

A: I would tell them that the power of one’s choice can change your life. If you make the choice in your head that you want something in life and will work for it, then there is always a way to make that vision that you have for your life true. Sure, you probably won’t succeed right away, but if you are persistent and keep fighting for it, you can accomplish anything and no one can stop you, not even you. Success comes to those who except nothing but success in the long run but are willing to fail sometimes on the way there.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Interview With Carter Jones And Richard Sharpe


Finishing just off the podium at the 2012/2013 British Figure Skating Championships as senior ice dancers mere months after teaming up, Carter Jones of Virginia Beach, Virginia and Richard Sharpe of Chelmsford  (Essex), England are a dance team that is definitely ready to shake things up this season. With good edges, musicality and a great rapport on the ice, they have already had international experience at events like the Junior Grand Prix event in Sheffield, England and the 2012 U.S. International Classic. In this interview, I learned more about how this team has progressed so quickly, what programs they have created for the upcoming 2013/2014 season and their opinions on the ice dance discipline as a whole.

Q: Having just teamed up in May of 2012, within 3 months you had already qualified for the British National Championships? How were you able to achieve that level of skating and a connection in such a short period of time?

A from Richard: In the first 9 weeks of our partnership, we spent a minimum of 4 hours a day, 5 days a week on the ice and an hour off-ice to make sure our programs were choreographed and ready for the Lake Placid event in late July. Naturally we got know each other very quickly and very well. We both shared the same ambition in skating so working together to reach the same goal supported a strong relationship between us.

Q: You are currently ranked 4th in Great Britain as senior ice dancers. What aspects of your skating are you specifically focusing on more to make the podium next season?

A from Richard: As last year it was all a bit of a rush, we have taken the time this year to focus on our basic skating skills both separately and together. We have been working on increasing the level of intricacy and difficultly of our elements and choreography to really highlight our strengths and capabilities for the coming season.



Q: Have you selected your programs for next season, and if so, what will you be skating to?

A from Richard: Yes, we have selected both short dance music and free dance. Our short dance this year is a medley of an English singer, Robbie Williams. We will be starting with his version of "Let's Face the Music and Dance" (quickstep) followed by a very fitting foxtrot for our partnership called "Have You Met Miss Jones." For our free dance we have chosen to travel to the other end of the music spectrum. We are combining an orchestral version of "Roxanne" by Maga Zoltan, mixed with a slow piece by Escala, "Finding Beauty".

Q: What is one piece of music you'd love to see skated to or to skate to yourself that no one has ever skated to previously?

A from Richard: The piece of music that we both have had a strong passion for is in fact Roxanne. We were concerned with the popularity and over-use of the original song, but when we found this version, it allowed us to use the music but enabled us to tell our own story to it.



Q: Great Britain is a country that has produced some of the biggest names in skating history - Jayne Torvill, Christopher Dean, Robin Cousins, John Curry... who are your favourite British skaters and what other ice dance teams do you look up to?

A from Richard: We both have always been admirers of the great team that was Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean. Their ingenuity and creativity on the ice completely revolutionized the sport of ice dance. From the moment they stepped on to the ice at competition they captivated the eyes of the audience, and we strive to do the same. Of course it is always a great pleasure to watch the top teams in the world. It is inspiring to see the power and strength that Meryl Davis and Charlie White bring along with the quality and effortless finesse that Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir portray.

Q: I actually have a strong British connection myself. My father, uncle and grandparents are all from there and I grew up eating amazing British food, constantly laughing at my grandmother's amazing sense of humor and watching shows like Are You Being Served?, Keeping Up Appearances, Absolutely Fabulous, French And Saunders and The Vicar Of Dibley. What makes British culture so different than North American culture?

A from Carter: It has been fun to experience some of the British culture skating with Richard this past year and traveling overseas to compete. One of my favorite qualities of Richard is his sense of humor, which took some adjusting at first but I’m now able to keep up with his jokes and appreciate British comedy. I’ve enjoyed trying new foods that Richard has introduced to me and been able to incorporate a couple of British phrases and terms into my vocabulary.

A from Richard: It pleases to see some of the old English comedies popping up there. I'm a big fan of “Only Fools and Horses” and “The Two Ronnie's” myself. The cultures are very different even though we speak the same language. People over here take great interest in hearing me speak and asking me questions about where I'm from because it's not common, whereas with all the countries in Europe being so close to each other it is common for us to hear different accents and languages in England.

Q: What is the most challenging part about ice dancing?

A from Richard: It's finding within yourself the drive and determination everyday to get out of bed, go to the rink, put on your skates, and skate, skate, skate. If you mess something up, do it again. If you fall, do it again. If you do it correctly... Do it again. Remembering to make sure whatever happens, you do it because you love it! Not because it has become a routine for you.

A from Carter: I think that one of the most difficult things within the sport is the mental ability to keep everything in perspective. When you do the same thing everyday it is easy to put too much focus on minor details and lose sight of the big picture. The mental strength this sport requires is greater than any physical test I have experienced. Luckily with ice dancing, you are never alone. I am grateful I have Richard to help me through the struggles and share the accomplishments with.

Q: Has the elimination of the compulsory dance(s) helped or hurt the sport?

A from Carter: Initially, I was not a fan of eliminating the compulsory dances. Now however, I think the incorporation of the compulsory dance within the original dance has created a very interesting and challenging event for the short dance. In my opinion, it better allows each individual team to highlight their strengths in different ways throughout the program while still maintaining the structure of the compulsory dance.

A from Richard: Combining the original dance and the compulsory dance has made more aspects of the discipline interesting. Seeing how people interpret the compulsory and the different spins you can put on the dance creates much more exciting than having 24 teams at a competition using the same 4 tracks.

Q: What direction do you see ice dance going in the future?

A from Carter: The difficulty of ice dancing has increased exponentially since my first time watching it in the Winter Olympics in 2006. Training at the level we currently do, it’s hard to imagine how it could become even more challenging. Ice dancing has taken on a new level of acrobatics within the lifts, and stressed importance of precision and elegance in respect to footwork and choreography. I’m sure with the rise of new competitors on the scene, ice dance will naturally continue to grow as it has in the past. For me, it’s hard to pick a specific goal to achieve. I’ve always been one to do something because I love it and till I’m pleased. If that means competing at Worlds and the Olympics, then that’s great. If it means making the podium at Nationals, that’s great too. As long as I know I’m putting 100% into my training on a daily basis and leaving everything I have out on the ice in that four minute program, I know I’ll be proud of myself and achieve my goal.

A from Richard: At the moment ice dance is in a very good place. It's modern, exciting and it has changed so much over the last decade it is hardly recognizable as the same event. It has taken on much more of a sport role than an art. My goal has been since I was a kid, to get to the Olympics. Since pairing up with Carter, her family has helped with me moving to America, creating a life for myself out in the States and has given me a family away from home. For that I want her to succeed more than anything. So when she's satisfied with how far we get, I'll be satisfied.

Q: What is the best advice would you give other skaters on stepping up their game and improving their skating skills?

A from Carter: The best advice I could offer for young and rising skaters would be to simply remember that you do this sport because you love it. Remember who you are, don’t sweat the small stuff, and make the best of the experience along the way. Oh, and try not to tick off your partner.

A from Richard: the best advice I could ever give to a young lad doing the sport is to simply keep at it if you love doing it. Through my fourteen  years of education, I was severely bullied for doing things that I loved. Ice skating wasn't the only thing I took part in as a youngster. I also did a variety of different dance disciplines including tap and ballet. It made me want to quit, but I wanted to show every boy that ever wants to do ice skating or dance or anything that may be considered "girly" that it most certainly isn't and that it will be worth it in the end.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Interview With Rory Flack


If you don't love Rory Flack, then there's just something wrong with you. It's as simple as that! Winning the 1986 junior bronze medal at the U.S. National Championships, Rory competed for a few years at the senior level then turned professional, and that was where the real success in her skating began. Winning both the U.S. Open Challenge and Masters Cups, she later went on to win the American Open title and compete in many other competitions. She also has starred in Ice Capades, Nutcracker On Ice, has performed around the world and has this intangible quality and innovative and expressive style that make her one of a kind - the kind of skater you just can't not watch. Her own skating hasn't been her only success either - she is a much sought after coach and choreographer, and has choreographed highly talented U.S. skater Keegan Messing's programs since the start of his career. One of only four ladies skaters that I can think of in the world to do the backflip (the others being Lori Benton, Surya Bonaly and Ashley Clark), she is always a fan favourite and an intriguing and heartwarming skater to watch. It was my pleasure to have the opportunity to interview her!

Q: I have to start by saying what a huge fan I am of your skating. Your performances just exude personality plus on the ice and you are unbelievably creative with the performances and choreography you put out there. What do you think differentiates a good skater from a good performer?

A: Well, you can’t truly be a good performer without having a solid foundation in technique. I think they are complimentary of each other. I think the more confident you are as a skater allows the emotion of performing to translate to those watching. Performance to me is a joy of what you are doing, when there is confidence in the ability the joy is more evident. Being a good skater allows for you to feel comfortable to perform on the ice.


Q: You currently coach in Alaska. What is the coaching experience in Alaska like and what is it like coaching your son?

A: Coaching in Alaska is similar to coaching everywhere else besides that I am coaching with my ex-husband Ralph Burghart, and my son Remington. That makes it different because although we coach as a team we have different emphasis on what and how we teach our kids. As a family we have a great relationship on the ice, and coaching. Ralph and I bring that family feeling to all our skaters in Alaska, and I am just so blessed that one of those skaters is my son. I am very lucky to have Remington there as one of my skaters, and I am very lucky that he has the ambition and desire to be as good as he wants to be.

Q: What was your transition from amateur to professional skating like and what would you say to a skater thinking about making that transition?

A: To me, it was exciting. It was exciting to have a new goal in life. I still had that little bit of competitive feeling because you are transitioning from competitions to auditions. It is a different area of emotion and expression. For me I was excited to bring out more of my personality, and more of my own style to the surface. The greatest thing about being a performer is realizing that a choreographer does not create your style. I was so blessed to have found the greatest choreographer Brian Wright, who helped me bring out my own individual style.


Q: Where did you come up with your "Brass In Pocket" program? That was the first program I ever saw you skate at the 1995 Riders Ladies Championships and I thought it was SO much fun!

A: I have to laugh a little. I came up with that program at my dinner table with my then husband, Ralph, and a couple of my friends. We were just having a good time, and I love that song, so I started singing it and someone at the table said “you should skate to that!” I agreed, and made it what I thought it could be. We had just moved to Alaska, and so it was the beginning of a new time, and a chance for new creation. It was a great experience to perform at Riders Cup.


Q: When and how did you learn your backflip and INSANE Russian split jumps?

A: The split jumps were more of a self challenge. As a child, I could do splits in the air on the trampoline, so I figured I should be able to do it on the ice. I was in gymnastics for a short period of time and I would practice my different moves on the trampoline telling myself that one day I would do them on ice. The backflip, I wanted to do since I was 17 because my coaches Lori Benton, and Darren Berner, at the time both could do them. When I saw another woman do it, I thought to myself that I could to. After I turned pro, I had an opportunity to do a backflip in competition because as the rule stands you can only do them as a pro. My friend Doug Mattis told me while we were performing in a show together that he would teach me how to do it. It took me two months to build up my courage to do it on the ice. Two months of gliding around trying to build up the guts. One day it was like “just do it.” After that moment I was so excited and thought it was easy!

Q: Who are your favourite skaters to watch and who were your role models growing up in the sport?

A: I honestly have to say that my favorite skaters to watch are all the children I work with. I like to watch them grow, and develop their own way. They get better every day. Growing up, I definitely liked watching Robin Cousins, and John Curry, they were great skaters and great performers who put everything out there. They put their emotion out there.

Q: Are you pleased with the direction the sport is going in with new CoP/IJS system of judging? How can the way the sport is judged be improved?

A: I actually am becoming fonder of the IJS system. As a teacher, it is fun for me to create more elaborate spin positions or creative footwork. I am learning things too, and when I see what I have visualized come to life over the development of a program it is always a joy. I like that the footwork is becoming more intricate, it reiterates the skills that I grew up skating with. The brackets and loops that have to keep their integrity is more challenging for the skaters, and for me to create new innovative step sequences.

Q: Your aunt is the fabulous Roberta Flack! What is like having two dazzling divas in one family?

A: I love Roberta and I love our relationship. If there is an opportunity for me to see her, I do that whenever I can. We enjoy the time we have together immensely and so that is a very special thing.

Q: What are your favourite songs?

A: I am quite a fan of "Thrift Shop". It provides a lot of entertainment between my kids and I. "Johnny Appleseed" is also one my favourites. That song has to be hits my mind at least ten times a day so I guess it must be a favourite. I really just enjoy all types of music, so it is hard to decide on favourites.


Q: What is your favourite performance that you have skated?

A: "Bridge Over Troubled Water", that program is one that I would love to do again one day. Everything about that performance was so moving and touched me in such a powerful way that it will always stuck with me. Another thing that made that program so very special was being able to perform it for Aretha.

Q: If you could give one piece of advice to skaters around the world, what would it be?

A: That is a tough one. I think I would tell them to keep their minds open. Everybody has something to offer.

Skate Guard is a blog dedicated to preserving the rich, colourful and fascinating history of figure skating and archives hundreds of compelling features and interviews in a searchable format for readers worldwide. Though there never has been nor will there be a charge for access to these resources, you taking the time to 'like' on the blog's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard would be so very much appreciated. Already 'liking'? Consider sharing this feature for others via social media. It would make all the difference in the blog reaching a wider audience. Have a question or comment regarding anything you have read here or have a suggestion for a topic related to figure skating history you would like to see covered? I'd love to hear from you! Learn the many ways you can reach out at http://skateguard1.blogspot.ca/p/contact.html.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Stars On Ice Canada (Halifax, NS) Review



I've been to my fair share of skating shows and competitions over the years (and been in more than a few myself, but certainly not at an elite level) and each time I've gone to watch one I've certainly never had killer seats. That all changed this year when my amazing sister, who spends her days working at rinks in British Columbia, treated my mother and I to on ice seating at Stars On Ice's Canadian debut in Halifax as a Christmas present. The seats couldn't have been more fantastic, with Joannie Rochette stepping on the matted area and back on to the ice literally right in front of us as part of the opening number's choreography, and skater after skater performing jumps, lifts and spins right in our faces basically. It was certainly a different experience altogether and from now on - on ice or not at all!

The show's first act opened with a SICKENINGLY choreographed group number to Gotye and Kimbra's "Somebody That I Used To Know", with a very eerie Alice In Wonderland type theme (that's the only way I can describe it) with skaters using umbrellas as props. The umbrella theme was carried throughout the show right until the end.

3 time World Champion Patrick Chan's first number was set to Aloe Blacc's "I Need A Dollar", using a hat as a prop. I didn't take notes and wasn't able to live tweet as my phone battery was dwindling by the minute, but it was a well skated program with only one iffy landing and a minor issue with the hat, which he covered up nicely.

U.S. Champion Ashley Wagner followed with a slower piece set to Billy Joel's "Vienna". I adore Ashley, and although I wasn't crazy about the program, she was on point all night throughout both programs and all of the ensemble pieces, with triple flips and loops all over the place, including one particularly gorgeous triple loop she landed literally right in front of me. I wish Ashley would hire me as her music person - her skating is simply too fabulous and I can think of about 20 pieces of music she could just rock.

British Champions and Olympians Sinead and John Kerr followed with Adam Lambert's cover of "Mad World", which was just absolutely haunting. They skated this program on the U.S. tour as well and they couldn't have been any more spellbinding if they tried. And yeah, I totally have a crush on John Kerr and adore Sinead and was just drooling over their skating all night.

Always the crowd favourite, Shawn Sawyer was up next with a very creative program set to Carl Orff's "Carmina Burana", a piece of music made famous in the skating world by the iconic Paul Wylie. Shawn gave it a very different interpretation, using a costume change from a cocoon or something into a butterfly (I don't have a sweet clue about biology girl). With a gorgeous Cantiliever, his trademark spins, spirals and backflips, Shawn was every bit as charismatic, innovative and truly artistic a skater as ever. Just love him!

Now the next program featured two skaters I love as well - Joannie Rochette and Jeffrey Buttle, Olympic medallists both. The music was Dave Brubeck and Van Cilburn's "Piano Guys" and as much as I love these two, I really didn't care for this program or the music choice, although they were both very on, landing side by side jumps and really selling the program.

After the duo was 4 time World Champion and 3 time Olympian Kurt Browning, who really IS Stars On Ice. I've seen Kurt skate many, many times and his first program, set to "Kurt's Song", like his "Antares" program especially composed by The Tragically Hip. What a gorgeous, breathtaking piece of choreography. He doubled his salchow but rebounded with a series of double axels and I have to say this was one of the PRETTIEST programs I've seen Kurt do.

Next up were Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, the reigning World silver medallists and 2010 Olympic Champions. They skated to Rihanna's "Stay" and you could hear a pin drop. A gorgeous, emotional performance from these two. Time for a shameless plug. If you like the song "Stay", you NEED (and I mean NEED) to listen to my dear friend Megan's cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDa_xz1m_DU. Megan's a SWEETHEART and I cannot rave about how beautiful her version is enough.

World Champion Jeffrey Buttle followed with a jazzy program to Mel Torme's "Just In Time". Jeff was really on all night and sold this program nicely. I also don't remember seeing him miss a single jump all night. I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Olympic Bronze Medallist and Canadian Champion Joannie Rochette followed immediately with her first solo program, set to Sade's "Is It A Crime?". I'm a huge Sade fan - "In Another Time" is one of my favourite songs - and she really played to the audience during this program. Joannie is absolutely GORGEOUS in person by the way and continues to grow and grow as an artist.

The first act closed with a group number featuring Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, Kurt Browning, Jeffrey Buttle and Patrick Chan to "Wonder" by Naughty Boy and Emelie Sande. Another amazing piece of group choreography that I can only describe as enchanting and majestic.


After a quick good Christian cigarette and a surprise run in with a dear friend who I didn't even realize was in town, we made our way back to our killer seats for the second set... I mean act. That's the drag queen in me coming out. The second act opened with a "Come Together" medley featuring music of The Beatles, Eurythmics and A. Skillz. I'm not sure who A. Skillz is but God love them. The whole cast looked like they were having a blast. All smiles!

Shawn Sawyer followed with another amazing performance to "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes. Again with trick after trick and just so much personality on the ice, this program got a huge response from the crowd. Shawn is originally from New Brunswick so he is well known in the Maritimes, but it's not even that at all. He's just that good. Standing O.

With their only solo performance, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford followed with the Artists Against Bullying cover of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors". Being one of my mother's favourite songs, I was half afraid she was going to start bawling but she held up well and so did Meagan and Eric, who couldn't put a foot wrong as usual. Being the only true pairs performance of the evening, the crowd especially freaked over the throw, twist and lift, having not seen anything like that yet. If they don't medal in Sochi, I'm throwing a hissy. A big one.

Ashley Wagner's second program was set to The Eurythmics - "Sweet Dreams". Anyone that knows me knows I am OBSESSED with Annie Lennox and actually impersonated her for years in shows so when the music came on I was just in my happy place. Ashley was a class act as always, and really seemed to enjoy this program.

NOW.. the next two skates were in my opinion the two best skates of the night so hold on to your weave and let me rave. First was Jeffrey Buttle, who skated a mesmerizing program to "In This Shirt" by The Irrepressibles. It's that song about being "caught in a rainbow". I think it was on a YouTube video or something. I know I've heard it before somewhere and it was just like being in a trance or a Natalie Merchant "catatonic dance". Just a gorgeous program.

Following Jeffrey with another one of the evening's top skates were Sinead and John Kerr, skating to "Coronach" by The Porridge Men, which they also skated in the U.S. tour. Now, not only was this a great program jam packed full of interesting lifts, choreography and difficult footwork (and not the crappy CoP stuff) but they were performing it in Nova Scotia, which to those of you who don't know the area translates to New Scotland. I'm a proud Nova Scotian and you wouldn't believe how proud people are of our unique culture, heritage and music here. Needless to say, a standing ovation where John pulled up his kilt and flashed each section of the audience. Disappointingly, he was wearing something under it. I want my damn money back. Wait, I didn't buy these tickets. Waa!

Those programs were two tough acts to follow, but Joannie Rochette ertainly did it, skating to Caro Emerald's "That Man", another sultry (but more playful) number in a very burlesquey kind of outfit. I just love Joannie!

Following Joannie was Patrick Chan, who skated to an old Muddy Waters tune called "Mannish Boy". And I have to hand it to him, he played with the audience, turned up the heat on those blues and put on a fantastic show. Enjoyed this way more than his first number.

Next up were Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir with a BRAND NEW PROGRAM... CARMEN. Gotcha! No, really, they performed their very popular "Carmen" free dance and I could just hear PJ Kwong raving about it my head. Way better live and they really adapted it well. It was a big hit with the crowd!

The final solo of the evening was "an oldie but a goodie" and I'm talking about the program, not the skater: Kurt Browning. Getting to see "Singin' In The Rain" live was an absolute treat. I first saw this program during one of Kurt's TV specials in the 90's and it was every bit as good, despite the only bad fall of the night. Kurt managed a nasty fall on his double axel that landed him on his stomach and really looked like it hurt. Like the true pro he is, he got up and continued to sell the program and earned himself a standing ovation as well.

The grand finale ensemble number was set to OneRepublic's "Marchin' On" and again was a masterfully choreographed program that ended the show on such a warm and positive note. The English major in me saw the militaryesque garb and looked at these skaters as serving up a little allegory. After all, they are marchin' on in an uncertain time in the skating world where no one quite knows what to make of the judging system, the empty seats in arenas (which fortunately was NOT AT ALL the case at this show) and the general decline of the sport's popularity in many circles. These skaters did march on and they did it with their heads high and entertained the hell out of this audience...

Being that close to the ice made a small part of me think "wow... I wish I was out there again". The last time I skated in front of an audience was in 2001, at my club's ice show. I skated to Emm Gryner's beautiful cover of "You Do Something To Me" and probably gave the best skate I ever had. I ended on a high note and put skating on the back burner in my life, always continuing to follow the sport but never seriously feeling that draw to the ice like I did here. In the last year I gave up performing as a drag queen after 10 years of that wonderful fun because it just wasn't serving me or making me happy anymore. In fact, it was making me miserable. I have to say, returning to  writing and getting more involved in the skating community by WRITING about it is the best replacement for that hole in my life I ever could have found. I'm writing about something I'm passionate about, and I genuinely, genuinely think the world of all of the amazing skaters who have tugged on my heartstrings, made me cheer, laugh or  even yell at a TV screen out of frustration when they falter in some way, or prove themselves human I should say. This show was no exception. Everyone was just fabulous.

Follow this blog on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SkateGuard or follow me on the twitter at http://twitter.com/SkateGuardBlog. For more information about Stars On Ice (including ticket information), visit http://www.starsonice.ca.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Interview with Karen Preston


For years, Karen Preston thrilled audiences with her soaring jumps, musicality and thrilling performances. Winning the Canadian National twice (in 1989 and 1992), Karen represented Canada at the 1992 Winter Olympic Games in Albertville, where she delivered two VERY strong performances, finishing in the top ten. She represented Canada three times at the World Championships, finishing 11th, 9th and 7th. After finishing 3rd at the 1994 Canadian National Championships and barely missing the 1994 Lillehammer Olympic team, Karen turned professional. She toured with Disney On Ice as Snow White and competed as a professional, outskating skaters like Surya Bonaly, Elizabeth Manley, Rosalynn Sumners and Tonia Kwiatkowski in professional competition. Now a mother and a much sought after coach, it was my pleasure to have the chance to interview Karen and gain her perspective on the sport and it's major players and find out more about what she is up to now.

Q: Who is the most interesting person in the skating world you have had the chance to work with over the years? 

A: It is hard to narrow this down. I was very luck to work with some of the greatest coaches in North America. I must say that my first competitive coach Wally Diestelmeyer was a huge influence, but Osborne Colson was also a major contributor to my career. Finally without Ellen Burka I would not have made the Olympic team, so I guess those are my top three.


Q: You were very much involved in competitive professional skating. Do you think that the lack of competitive opportunities for professional skaters has helped or hurt the sport?

A: To be honest, I was not as involved as I had wished to be. Many of the events were invite only, and run by a sports agency that I was not a client of. I think that in the "golden days", post Kurt Browning, professional events could have been better attended and skating could have had a longer "golden era" if a more diverse group of skaters had been asked to participate. I think that skating took a huge hit in Salt Lake City, and the average TV fan doesn't understand why someone who falls three times wins against someone who stands up. It gets confusing and hard to follow. As for nowadays, it would be great if we had some more events, but it can only happen if there is a huge demand. I feel that demand is presently in Asia, where there are a lot of opportunities.


Q: What are your thoughts on the current state of Canadian skating? Who are your favourite Canadian skaters of all time?

A: I think Canadian skating is enjoying the rewards of a lot of hard work from coaches, athletes and Skate Canada. I was so proud of our skaters in London this year - mostly of Kaetlyn Osmond. I am so tired of hearing "What is wrong with Canadian women?". Nothing!!! It is a tough sport - you need a go-getter with guts to compete in it. You also need the support of an association and I think Skate Canada under Mike Slipchuk's eye is doing a better job of that. I can tell you that there were times that the CFSA was not supportive of its athletes in the past and it takes a special person to hold their head up and compete hard and WELL without the support of the association. My favourite skater... Canadian skater of all time??? I idolized Brian Orser as kid. I was in awe of Jamie and David in Salt Lake City and thrilled by Tessa and Scott in Vancouver... too many to pick just one.


Q: What was your favourite program you ever skated and why?

A: My short program at the 1993 World Championships, because I finally got to be who I really was on the ice. This is followed by my clean long at the 92 Olympics....because it was the jewel in my crown after a lifetime of hard work.


Q: Who do you think will be the next Olympic ladies champion?

A: Most likely Yuna Kim repeats, but I would sure like to see Carolina Kostner give her a run.

Q: Where are you currently coaching and what is your coaching philosophy?

A: I currently coach at the Canadian Ice Academy in Toronto. I had 5 skaters make Nationals this year while attending U of T full time to finish the degree I stopped in 1992 to focus on my own skating. SO, I am very proud of my season. My coaching philosophy: I am at the rink because I love skating, have since I was 5. I tell my kids to focus on the journey: the good and bad. It all makes you who you are. The sport will give back what you put into it. I am also partial to saying "keep calm and carry on, I will tell you if it is EVER time to panic." My job is to get skaters to be the best athlete they can be, enjoy the sport for a lifetime and leave competitive skating with a positive view of their achievements.


Q: What have you learned the most from figure skating?

A: That true courage comes from within, fail to plan and you will fail. Be ready, be organized and love the journey.

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