Editor’s note: For decades, skaters from all over the country have ventured to Lake Placid, N.Y., for its summertime skating camps and Saturday night ice shows. Almost every major skating star has passed through Lake Placid at one time or another, and that rich tradition continues today. In July, 2010 Olympian and reigning U.S. bronze medalist Mirai Nagasu, and 2012 U.S. pairs champions Caydee Denney and John Coughlin, performed in the long-running weekend ice show. Christie Sausa, member of the Skating Club of Lake Placid and local skating journalist (she authored Lake Placid Figure Skating: A History,) sat down with Nagasu, as well as Denney and Coughlin, to talk about their time in Lake Placid, as well as their careers and plans.
Nagasu letting her skating do the talking
By Christie Sausa
Skating serenely with elegance and feeling, Mirai Nagasu captivated the audience with her performances at the Saturday Night Ice Show on July 5 in the Lake Placid Olympic Center. Performing to “On Golden Pond” and a cover of the Imagine Dragons song “Demons” by Sam Tsui, it was easy to see her love for skating and remarkable talent.
Nagasu was in Lake Placid in February to perform in the Winter Ice Revue. This time, she was able to perform and conduct a seminar with young skaters in the Lake Placid summer skating program and teach private lessons.
“It’s amazing to be a role model and give the skaters something to take away from their lessons,” Nagasu said. “I also enjoy coaching, because I can give back to the community and my sport.”
The 2013–14 season was difficult for Nagasu. She wasn’t named to the U.S. Olympic Team despite her bronze-medal finish at the U.S. Championships. U.S. Figure Skating, instead, sent fourth-place finisher Ashley Wagner to Sochi, Russia, based on her results over the past two seasons.
But Nagasu is moving forward, and said she has learned from the experience.
“After nationals, I have become a more private person and don’t enjoy talking about myself as much,” Nagasu said. “I let my skating speak for me.”
The strategy has worked well for Nagasu, who placed second at the Broadmoor Open in late June in Colorado Springs. In addition, she skated on the Stars on Ice tour and in 2014 Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten’s ice show in Kazakhstan. She will attend Hilton HHonors Skate America and Rostelecom Cup this fall as part of the Grand Prix Series.
Like all skaters, Nagasu enjoyed her trip to Lake Placid and draws inspiration from the unique setting.
“There are only a few places left with this magical atmosphere, and Lake Placid is one of them,” Nagasu said. “It’s always fun to come to Lake Placid.”
Denney and Coughlin see injury setback as an opportunity
By Christie Sausa
Skating for the first time in Lake Placid, 2014 U.S. pairs bronze medalists Caydee Denney and John Coughlin performed at the second Saturday Night Ice Show of the season on July 12. And while both skaters are recovering from injuries, they still put on a great show at the Lake Placid Olympic Center.
The past season, they said, was challenging but gratifying. They placed second at the U.S. International Classic, fourth at Skate America and third at Trophée Bompard, which were all events that led up to the U.S. Championships, the Olympics and World Championships.
Denney and Coughlin finished third at the U.S. Championships — barely missing an Olympic berth by less than one point — and were subsequently named to the World Team.
Unfortunately, shortly before the World Championships, Denney sprained her ankle during practice, forcing the team to withdraw from the competition.
“We had the drive, motivation and will to be on the team, and we were a good, strong international team,” Denney said. “March 19th (a few days before leaving for Worlds), I landed weird on a throw and felt like it torqued; it was not a normal landing. I sprained the ankle and just got back on the ice three or four weeks ago after rehabilitating the injury in Florida.”
They both look at this setback as an opportunity.
“This past season was a big journey for us, and we’re happy to be back on the ice again after my hip surgery and Caydee’s injury,” Coughlin said. “The surgery had a long recovery time, and we didn’t begin to feel like ourselves on the ice again until last July.”
Denney and Coughlin will take the 2014–15 season off from competition, but that doesn’t mean they will stay away from the rink. They both taught a seminar and private lessons in Lake Placid, where they found enthusiastic students.
“The energy of the kids here was great; there are talented local skaters as well as kids from other parts of the country who traveled to be here,” Coughlin said. “They were eager to learn and responded well to the instruction.”
In addition to coaching here, the pair also coaches at home.
“I enjoy coaching since right now I can’t skate as much myself,” Denney said. “The skaters have to have a lot of dreams and passion to do this sport, and I enjoy helping them and giving back to my sport.”
Denney and Coughlin will also perform in the Ice Dreams show in New York in September, and are taking the rest of the year as it comes.
“We’re letting Caydee’s foot take the lead,” Coughlin said. “Since she’s obviously responded so well in this first show, I think we can kind of move forward, onward and upward.”