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Summer Practice in the Detroit Area

 by Klaus-Reinhold Kany






(22 August 2014)  More than half of the sports’ leading ice dance teams practice in one of three large schools, all clustered in the Detroit area.

Teams galore in Canton

Since the summer of 2012, Marina Zoueva acts as sole head coach in Canton. Meryl Davis and Charlie White, and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, are not training there this summer, but Zoueva has several new teams. She also has two new associate coaches: Massimo Scali who left Pasquale Camerlengo’s school at Detroit Skating Club, and does mainly choreography; and former U.S. ice dance competitor Tim McKernan, now joined as an assistant.

Three technical coaches remain in Canton: Oleg Epstein; Italian Maurizio Margaglio, who works as a consultant during the summer; and Zoueva’s longtime “significant other,” Johnny Johns, who mainly works on lifts and spins.

Italian world champions Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte stayed for a month, but their main coach remains Paola Mezzadri in Italy . “We switched from Igor Shpilband to Marina because his rink was very busy last year, and we also want to work with Massimo (Scali),” Lanotte said. The Italians’ short dance is performed to the required Paso Doble rhythm and a Spanish Waltz, set to “Capriccio Espagnol” by Rimsky-Korsakov. Their free dance is choreographed to “Danse Macabre” by Saint-Saens. Zoueva commented: “I want to show more [of] their dramatic side and emotions.”

Zoueva’s best full-time couple may be the new Russian duo of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov. Katsalapov, who won a bronze medal in Sochi with Elena Ilinykh, partnered with Sinitsina because, he said, his former partner did not feel any more enthusiasm.

Zoueva said she will teach Sinitsina and Katsalapov to skate more like seniors, and no longer a bit like juniors. “I like the coaching system in the team here,” Katsalapov said. “Different coaches give their best for us.” The couple will use a classical Paso Doble and Flamenco for the short dance, but had not chosen music for the free dance. “For a new couple like us, the elements are a priority,” Katsalapov said. They plan to compete at a B-level event in early fall to get the Grand Prix minimum points. Their short dance was ready in early August and looked excellent.

Maja Shibutani and Alex Shibutani continue to train in Canton, but they were doing show in Japan at the end of July.

Cathy Reed and Chris Reed of Japan moved from Galit Chait in Hackensack, NJ to Canton. Their short dance music is “El Cid,” a Farruca. For the free dance they will skate to the ever-popular soundtrack of the Audrey Hepburn movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Two-time U.S. junior champions Alexandra Aldridge and Daniel Eaton moved from DSC to Zoueva. “The main reason was that Massimo Scali is here,” Eaton said. Aldridge and Eaton brought a free dance, but Zoueva decided to change it and use the soundtrack of Gone with the Wind, including a Polka.

Other part-time couples in Zoueva’s school are the Czechs Lucie Mysliveckova and her new partner Pavel Kaska, who was a single skater until last winter. Margaglio brought his three Finnish dance couples to Canton. Also training for the summer in Canton were U.S. dancer Laura Bonacorsi, who now plans to compete for Italy with Francesco Fioretti. (She formerly used the name “Lauri” but “Laura” is far more Italian!)

Full-time in Canton are Canadians Victoria Hasegawa and Connor Hasegawa; the U.S. team Charlotte Maxwell and Ryan Devereaux; and Alissandra Aronow and Collin Brubaker. U.S. ice dancer Taylor Tran now dances with Lithuanian single skater Saulius Ambrulevicius. Another U.S. ice dancer, Michael Bramante, will skate for France with Péroline Ojardias.

Junior teams reign supreme in Novi

Igor Shpilband decided to take fewer couples than in past seasons. “Last year I was at my limit after Nathalie (Péchalat) and Fabian (Bourzat) came in the last minute,” he said. “Therefore, I had to say no to some couples who wanted to come. And I have no room for more assistant coaches, including Massimo Scali.” Greg Zuerlein and Fabian Bourzat are full-time assistant coaches. Shpilband’s wife, Adrienne Lenda; Barbara Fusar-Poli; and Alexei Gorshkov, work at Novi part time.

Madison Chock and Evan Bates are Shpilband’s best couple and aim for a medal at Worlds. Like all Shpilband couples, they worked with the Flamenco guru Antonio Najarro in spring. “Almost all of our elements are new,” Bates said. “If you want to move ahead everything must be new and fresh.” Shae-Lynn Bourne in Toronto worked on the choreography of the Paso and Flamenco in the short dance. For their free, they chose Gershwin’s “An American in Paris.” Their first competition is planned to be the Salt Lake City B international.

A new couple is Isabella Tobias (whose former Lithuanian partner Deividas Stagniunas is coaching now) and Ilia Tkachenko. The Russian Tkachenko split from Ekaterina Riazanova in March. The skaters denied rumors, stemming from a Steve Disson press release, that they will compete for Israel. Tobias said only: “We will skate for the country that gives us best opportunities for the next Olympic Games.” Her new partner added, “I have not been released from Russia yet. We know each other well, because in 2008 we skated together for sixth months.” According to ISU rules, they will have to sit out this season. They trained a free dance to “Liebestraum” by Liszt.

Another new senior couple in the Shpilband school is Kavita Lorenz from Germany and former Ukrainian skater Andrew Lavrik, who has been living in the U.S. for 14 years. U.S. skater Timothy Koleto and his South Korean partner plan to debut their programs in Salt Lake City, which includes a free dance to music from The Triplets of Belleville.

The Italian team of Charlène Guignard and Marco Fabbri, 14th in Sochi, mainly work with Fusar-Poli, but also with Shpilband in the summer. Their free dance is to Riverdance and Lord of the Dance. Danielle Gamelin and Alexander Gamelin have also joined the group. Shpilband has eight junior teams now, four of them from the USA. “I like to work with juniors because they are a bit more teachable,” he said.

Frenchman Florent Amodio was also in Novi, working with Bourzat on choreography and also on regaining his confidence in his jumps. He plans to skate his short program to the musical Le Concert (about the Bolshoi ballet) and his free program to different African themes, including Lion King and Blood Diamonds. In early August he went back to his longtime coach Bernard Glesser in France.

Canadians, U.S. teams train side-by-side at DSC

Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje from Canada , second at Worlds last season, are DSC’s best ice dance couple. “We feel like a real family,” Poje said. “Angelika [Krylova] and Pasquale [Camerlengo] are the greatest coaches for us, Angelika being the technical expert and Pasquale the creative artist.” The music of their new short dance is almost only the Paso Doble “La Virgen de la Macarena” with only a little bit of Flamenco. Shae-Lynn Bourne choreographed their new free dance to a modern version of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons,” arranged by Max Richter.

The second Canadian couple Alexandra Paul and Mitchell Islam, 10th at worlds, also trains in the DSC. Their short dance music is partially the same music they used in 2010 for their Flamenco folk dance. In the free, they dance to a jazzy medley of songs by Frank Sinatra, choreographed by Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.

The US team of Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue are happy that Hubbell can finally train without pain. “This season, we want to qualify for Worlds again,“ Hubbell said. Their short dance music is a classical Flamenco and Paso Doble medley, and their free dance is set to the soundtrack of the Leonardo DiCaprio film, The Great Gatsby.

Junior world champions Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker skate their short dance to a Flamenco and Paso version of “Malaguena” and their free dance to “Forbidden Lord” from the 2013 Romeo and Juliet soundtrack.

A few single skaters of international level were practicing in the Detroit Skating Club as well. Jeremy Abbott returned from a tour through Japan in early August and just re-started training. He was still enthusiastic about the huge applause which he always gets in Japan . His new free program will be to Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings,” choreographed by Sandra Bezic. All his triple jumps worked well even on his first practice day back in Detroit. Elladj Baldé was training a short program to James Brown’s evergreen “It’s a Man’s Man’s Worlds” and a flamenco free program. At Skate Detroit he performed both programs with an excellent interpretation.

Austrian ladies’ champion Kerstin Frank worked with Jason Dungjen this summer, which let her be near boyfriend Chris Reed, who trained in Canton.