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Presidential Conversations

9 May

In early April, members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team headed to the nation’s most famous address, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, to meet with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama. In addition to the responses seen in SKATING magazine, here are how the conversations went for Nathan Bartholomay and Marissa Castelli.

Nathan Bartholomay:

POTUS: Nathan, it is an honor to have you here.

N: It’s a privilege to be here sir. Truly an honor.

P: My wife and I are very busy but we did get to see some of the figure skating, we are so proud of you and Felicia.

N: Wow thank you sir, I can’t tell you what that means coming from you!

P: Thank you for representing your country so well at the Olympics.

“Short and sweet”

Marissa Castelli

“I talked to Obama about my medal,” Castelli said. “He touched the medal and said ‘that’s so heavy, I am star-struck'”

“Then I saw Michelle (Obama) and she said ‘Oh, you’re a pair skater!’ Castelli added. “We then went on to talk about trusting your partner and how she would never be able to do it.”

“It was a fun conversation.”

 

SKATING Magazine Correction

3 Mar

We experienced formatting issues with club survey results that pertain to U.S. Figure Skating’s four-year strategic plan in March’s SKATING magazine (pages 60-61). We apologize for the error. The correct survey results can be found by clicking here or on the image below.

Sincerely,

SKATING Editor Troy Schwindt
Senior Director of Membership Susi Wehrli-McLaughlin

60-61-1

Synchroettes Silver Highlights Leon Lurje Trophy

20 Jan

As the Olympic spirit took hold in the week following the 2014 Prudential U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the synchronized skating season began with four American teams taking the ice at Leon Lurje Trophy in Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Synchroettes junior team, hailing from West Orange, N.J., paced Team USA’s efforts with a silver medal – an improvement on their bronze-medal finish at this event a year ago. The Synchroettes were in a very tight battle with Sweden’s own Team Spirit. They conceded the short program to Team Spirit but overcame the 1.05 deficit to sneak into silver medal position after the free skate, set to the music from “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Their total score of 136.28 was just .21 better than that of the bronze medalists.

Miami University junior team finished 5th in both segments, earning 122.82 points total. In the free skate, the team earned the highest base value, 37.10, of all the junior teams. They earned the highest technical levels for their no hold element, moves in the field element and line.

Also representing Sweden, Team Convivium easily took the junior title with 156.45 points. They were the only team to break 50 points in the short program and 100 in the free (103.58).

The senior event featured reigning World champions Team Unique of Finland as they cruised to a nearly 20-point victory and hit 199.15 points. Their lead of more than 10 points, following the short program, only grew with their “Women out for Revenge” free skate. They shared the podium with Sweden’s Team Surprise and Boomerang.

The Skyliners, representing The Skating Club of New York, began their second international season with a fifth-place showing at Leon Lurje Trophy. Less than three points of out of bronze medal contention following the short program, the Skyliners were unable to pull ahead of the teams from Sweden and Finland. The ICE’Kateers, hailing from Southern California, finished sixth in both segments, and showed great improvement in their free skate, which earned them 90.96 points.

Shoes Instead of Skates

17 Jan

By Kimmie Meissner

It’s been six years since I’ve been at U.S. championships. This time I arrived without my skates, toting around a silly amount of shoes, for all the possibilities nationals can hold, even for the spectator.

Arriving at the arena for the first time, seeing the ice and the panel set up for the judges, a wave of memories came rushing back and I felt as though I had never left. Is it possible for the desire to compete to ever leave you? I thought it was until I finally sat down and watched my first skating competition since beginning to compete myself. There’s no easy way to describe what it’s like being here and not participating. In some ways, I’m glad I don’t have to be out there risking everything and pushing my body to its limit, but in many more ways it feels wrong to be sitting on the sidelines and traveling without my skates.  Talking with friend, and fellow Olympian Emily Hughes, we both agree, “it just feels really weird”.

There were a lot of things I didn’t realize happened before we all took to the ice. I had no idea the videos being played were so intense, really adding to the anticipation of that last group. I had no idea they showed people in the audience, just like many other sporting events. I had no idea just how nerve wracking it can be to watch your friends perform programs that can change their lives. Watching the ladies free program was a roller coaster ride of emotions. As a skater you know what is going through their minds and how it feels to receive that standing ovation or fall in front of a nearly sold out arena. It’s nearly impossible not to feel the skater’s exuberance or their heartbreak, as I found myself in both tears of sadness and joy.

Something else I felt was that familiar pull to the ice. The itch to compete can never leave an athlete, no matter how much time comes to pass. That desire to skate and to test my character all while standing alone in the center of the ice surrounded by thousands is hardwired in my soul and will most likely always present itself in the presence of every skater’s stage.  A stage that is both welcoming and daunting.

Hello again, old friend.

Nancy Meiss Estate Sale

19 Nov

Nancy Meiss, a distinguished 50-year judge, a tireless volunteer and one of the sport’s most ardent supporters, surrounded herself with the things she loved. When she passed away Jan. 1, 2013, in Cincinnati, her mementos were a collection of a life well-lived.

Now, after selecting keepsakes near to their hearts, Meiss’ family is making many of the items public in an online auction that is drawing the attention of figure skating fans and collectors worldwide. There are so many figurines, artwork and Olympic collectibles that just viewing them online is a treat.

To view the auction site, go to: https://www.ebth.com/sales/2441-hyde-park-ohio-personal-property-sale. The auction ends at 8:46 p.m. ET Nov. 23.

Meiss, who was born Dec. 12, 1922, began her career in 1958 as an ice dancing and figures judge. She judged at every level, including World Championships and the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary. In 2009, she was inducted into the U.S. Figure Skating Hall of Fame.

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Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt Look Forward to the 2014 Season

24 Oct

By Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

U.S. Ice Dancing 2012 pewter medalists Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt know exactly what makes their now seven year partnership work. It is mutual respect and trust for each other, both on and off the ice.

“One major thing that makes our partnership work is that our personalities complement one another well,” Giulietti-Schmitt said. “We have learned from each other and grown immensely as individuals and as a team. Our goals have been the same since the day we started skating together and our commitment to all aspects of training never wavers.”

Part of this commitment includes relying on each other on the good days and the bad days.

“We are also very supportive and understanding of one another and we always try to be there for each other if one of us is having a rough day, “ Kriengkrairut said. “Regardless of the circumstances we can depend on each other to give one hundred percent every day.”

The 2014 season brings big changes for this team. Kriengkrairut and Giulietti- Schmitt now train in Novi, Michigan with Coach Igor Shpilband, after training several years in Ann Arbor with long time coaches Yasa Nechaeva and Yuri Chesnichenko. The move has been a positive one thus far, with the two kicking off the new season winning the free dance at the Lake Placid Ice Dancing Championships in historic Lake Placid, New York, in August.

“Igor has endless resources to help us in specific areas of our skating. Having such a large collaboration of efforts helps the whole package come together,” Kriengkrairut said. “After seven years of the same coaching style and approach, our new environment is drastically different and has taken some time to get used to but it has been a very positive change so far.”

One resource is the addition of Coach Barbara Fusar-Poli, the 2002 Olympic bronze medalist, who recently began working with the team on developing their interpretation of the dialogue of the music. “Barbara brings a whole new element,” Giulietti-Schmitt said. “She has a great eye for the finer details.”

Kriengkrairut added “Barbara is so creative and exudes such a genuine emotional connection with the music that it’s contagious. She inspires us to let go and be more bold, to really capture the dialogue in the music so there is a convincing connection between us.”

“We’ve also enjoyed working with Alexei Gorshkov who has helped us with our Finnstep, and with Michael Lee, a professional mime and acting coach, who has helped us with character development as well,” Kriengkrairut said.

The two are also enjoying Shpilband’s classical choreography incorporated in this year’s free dance.

“We decided right from the beginning to go a more traditional route this year,” Kriengkrairut said. “I have personally always been drawn to the lyrical style and I love exploring that more with our free dance. The music is so powerful and passionate, which really allows us to enhance our connection with each other and bring a new style and maturity to the ice.”

They are also concentrating on off ice ballroom dancing to enhance their short program.

“We’ve had a lot of ballroom experience with our ballroom coaches Stephen and Susan McFerren over the past seven years, so it helps that we are familiar with the style and carriage off the ice. Now they are helping us transition the style and carriage onto the ice which requires some tweaking here and there since it obviously has a much different feel than on the floor. They have played a huge part in choreographing parts of the short dance this year, bringing out true quickstep and Charleston characters,” Giulietti-Schmitt said.

Of course the 2014 U.S. Championships, where the two hope to achieve a spot on the podium, is also important because of the upcoming Olympic year, and a coveted spot on the Olympic team.

“Regardless of it being an Olympic year, we wanted to bring some changes to our skating,” Giulietti-Schmitt said. “We’ve already developed a great foundation and are confident that the whole package will develop over the course of the season.”

Kriengkrairut states they are totally committed to their daily goals and are constantly pushing themselves.

“Whatever happens, we are continuing to approach this season with the same mental approach as we have every other season. Each day we train with a purpose: to be better than the previous day and to enjoy the process,” Kriengkrairut said. “Small improvements add up over time. There are always days that may feel rough but there are also always days where the hard work doesn’t feel like hard work at all because we truly love what we are doing. We are so engrossed in the process that before we know it we have developed something great, and that it extremely rewarding.”

This mindset has also served them well off ice. Kriengkrairut recently graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience. Giulietti-Schmitt graduated in 2008 from Eastern Michigan University with a geology degree. Both plan to further pursue their fields after their competitive career. Kriengkrairut wants to attend medical school and Giulietti-Schmitt wants to pursue a master’s degree in urban planning. Both agree that studies and skating engrained qualities that are important in all aspects of life.

“It has taught us the importance of discipline, perseverance, time management, organization and that the best results come from genuine passion and love for what we do,” Giulietti-Schmitt said.

Skating taught them that even bound within a set of rules there is still freedom for individual variation, and the same is true with their studies.

“Once the structure is developed the opportunity to flourish is unbound,” Kriengkrairut said. “Having both skating and school has shown us that the beauty of learning is that it is limitless and such an approach can be applied to anything we are passionate about.”

They also share their talents with young skaters. Giulietti-Schmitt is a coach and director of the Learn to Skate Program at the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club, and both have been dedicated performers with the Skate Dance Dream Shows, offering young people a chance to skate and dance their way to their dreams with current competitive skaters and dancers.

“The thing that is most satisfying about teaching young kids is seeing the pure enjoyment they have for skating and how excited they get when mastering a new skill,” Giulietti-Schmitt said. “Teaching has made us better competitors and individuals in many ways. It constantly reminds us why we love the sport so much. It has also taught us how to be patient, humble and appreciative for all the things that have made it possible for us to be where we are today.”

In the end, it is the challenges and epiphanies of daily training that keep them going.

“We love the process of approaching things that seem impossible and learning to make them possible. We then train to where it become something we can do half asleep, which sometimes happens with all our training and coaching,” Kriengkrairut said, jokingly.

In the end, both enjoy finding new ways to become more creative, passionate and precise.

“Sometimes skills aren’t mastered quickly but there is nothing better then when it finally “clicks” and we understand what needs to be done,” Giulietti-Schmitt said. “Knowing that perfection doesn’t exist is frustrating at times but it is also the motivation that pushes us to grow as skaters.”

Kriengkrairut and Giulietti-Schmitt discovered much about themselves during their seven years together, and they have developed a curiosity to unveil even more about themselves than ever before.

“We have had seven years together already,” Kriengkrairut said. “We are just enjoying the process. We have nothing to be nervous about and nothing to lose. We have great material and are really happy with the way things are going so far. We are extremely excited to push ourselves and see how it will all evolve over the course of the season.”

It is this curiosity that has given them a large appetite for more.

See the gallery below for photos of Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt. Photos courtesy of Jacque Tiegs.

Dornbush Flipping over Exciting Upcoming Season

20 Sep

Ricky 1By Joanne Vassallo Jamrosz

Men’s competitor Richard Dornbush is flipping with excitement about the upcoming season. Not only will the 2011 U.S. silver medalist debut two new programs in this all important Olympic year, Dornbush also added the back flip to his exhibition programs.

“Ever since I was a little kid I had wanted to learn to do a back flip on the ice,” Dornbush said. “It probably stemmed from watching other skaters like Scott Hamilton and Michael Weiss do it, but later on people I competed against learned it too.”

Dornbush first tried learning the flip with his rinks’ pulley harnesses with some help from fellow competitor Philip Warren.

“Unfortunately he was a lot smaller than me at the time and we didn’t feel confident enough to try it with me,” Dornbush said. Later on, Coach Cindy Stuart stepped in and mentioned that Michael Villarreal had just learned his and would be able to help.

“I learned it with Michael and with some help from Jed Hopkins,” Dornbush said. “After that I could not stop myself from doing some every day. It drove my coach Tammy Gambill crazy.”

The back flip is now a staple part of Dornbush’s exhibition program, and he enjoys performing them for audiences. He performed his very first one at the recent Skate Dance Dream Show in Cleveland, Ohio.

“Performing it at Skate Dance Dream was a very nerve wracking experience but after doing them in the show, I must have done six or so, I had the hang of doing it solidly under spotlights. Now there are three guys doing back flips at my rink, Philip, myself and Australian men’s competitor Brendan Kerry which makes it more fun because we all push each other in so many different areas.”

Dornbush is also looking forward to the upcoming season and debuting two exciting new programs.

“This year both my short and my long have been choreographed by Mark Pillay, who did my short last year,” Dornbush said.  “My short is set to “The Sons of Italy” and hasn’t been performed by a well known skater that I know of since Kurt Browning in the 1990/1991 season. The footwork is definitely the star of the program and is the main focus. At first I would trip up three or four times every time I did it and it worried me, but now I have it down and cannot wait to show off its intricacies in competition.”

Dornbush’s long program is a Beatles medley and he loves the subtle beginning where the songs are barely recognizable, but as the program builds the music becomes more obvious.

“In this way it really helps the build of the program,” he said.

Dornbush is looking forward to the upcoming season, and the all important U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Boston, where the Olympic team will be chosen.

“I am really excited about this upcoming Olympic season and am working very hard to earn a spot on that team. I really mean the “earn” part as I think there are so many U.S. guys that are pushing the envelope with the quads, as well as the performance part of skating, that it will certainly be, in my mind, a huge athletic feat to make it to the top group,” Dornbush said.

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