What would you say about stopping at a Toronto area rink, Tim Horton’s in tow, on the way to an amazing sale at the local shopping mall? I would say it was the start to a great day!

I am really lucky to be made to feel welcome at rinks across the city when I ask if I can come and see what’s going on. In the case of the Ice Dance Elite program located at the Scarboro Figure Skating Club, it is also a chance to say hi to old coaching colleagues Jon and Carol Lane and their coaching partner Juris Razgulajevs.

This is one of the really cool things about being involved in skating – many of the relationships that I have with coaches, judges and skaters go back decades – which means that regardless where in the skating world I end up – I always have pals.

Ice Dance Elite is a wildly successful program that is responsible for 8 dace teams going to the Canadian Championships in a week. Two Novice teams, four Junior teams and two Senior teams were flying around the ice last week when I was in.

I want you to meet the Novice and Junior Ice Dance Elite teams that I saw that day:

Going down the line, each of the teams gave me a little something to share:

Abby Savoie and Dennis Romanenko: “I am really excited to be going to Canadians” said Abby with Dennis adding: “It’s a really big deal.”

Katie Desveaux and Dmitre Razgulajevs heading to Novice nationals for the second time: “We’ve improved a lot since last year.” said Katie. Dmitre offering this observation with a smile when I pointed out how much he has grown: “There have been lots of new shoes.” I wonder what watching and coaching this team is like for Dmitre’s dad Juris?  Here is their free dance:

Rebecca Nelles and Nicholas Lettner: In their second year as Juniors, Nicholas finds himself competing against older brother Chris. “Competing against my brother is a new experience for me. Sometimes it might be a little disappointing, but basically it’s ok.” Who are Rebecca’s favourite ice dancers? “Myself and my parter of course.” she giggles but goes on to say: “My favourite ice dancers are Carol and Jon and Juris.” Well said.

Rachel Kirkland and Chris Lettner – you may remember Rachel as having skated pairs most recently at the 2009 Nationals with Eric Radford. In this new partnership with Chris, she is delighted to be heading back to Canadians for the first time since then. “I am thrilled. It has been too long. When I decided I wanted to skate for fun and return to Toronto from Montreal, I needed to find a place to train. I immediately thought of Carol and ended up starting to skate with Chris.”  Here is their short dance:

Nicole Kuzmich and Jordan Hockley –  Jordan: “We got together in June. She was in Pre-Novice so we were starting from square one with everything.” Nicole says: “It was a big jumps for me. I am really excited because this is my first time ging to Nationals. I think our biggest strength is connection-wise. There are no barriers in our communication.”

The only team missing on that morning were Junior Grand Prix competitors Mackenzie Bent and Garrett Mackeen who won a bronze medal in Romania, their only outing on the JGP circuit.

With the start of the national championships in Moncton less than a week away, the ice dace events are clearly brimming with talent across the board.


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