Ben Agosto: From Champion to Commentator

Ben Agosto is a man who needs little introduction for figure skating fans. During his 12 years competing with partner Tanith Belbin [now Tanith White] (1998-2010), Agosto amassed a pile of medals and played a pivotal role in bringing the United States into the top echelon of the ice dance world.

In 2002, Belbin and Agosto won the World Junior Championships; three years later, they followed up with a silver medal in seniors at the 2005 World Championships. At the 2006 Torino Olympics, Belbin and Agosto became the first U.S. ice dancers to medal at the Olympics in 30 years, winning silver again. The duo went on to win three more World medals and many Grand Prix titles. Their success paved the way for the celebrated U.S. ice dance teams that have followed them, including this year’s newly crowned World champions, Madison Chock and Evan Bates.

But all this fame rests lightly on Ben Agosto’s shoulders. Long known for his charm and ready smile, Agosto is friendly and approachable off the ice. The native Chicagoan now lives in Colorado Springs with his wife, choreographer and consultant Katherine Hill. Often working together, the couple bring their talents and experience to many different areas of figure skating, including coaching, choreography, event production, and film work.

Agosto has also pursued a career in skating commentary and analysis, and has commentated on many Grand Prix competitions. In January, he joined Terry Gannon and Johnny Weir in the NBC booth for the senior ice dance event at the 2023 Toyota U.S. Figure Skating Championships. Agosto also delighted ice dance fans this season by offering live-tweeted commentary on Twitter. 

At the 2023 ISU Four Continents Championships in February, Agosto hosted post-competition interviews with skaters and produced the opening ceremonies with Hill. He also found a few minutes to chat with me in Colorado Springs, sharing his thoughts on the role of skating commentators; the current state of ice dance; the pros and cons of pattern dances in the rhythm dance event; and news about his other projects in skating. 

Q:  Ben, can you talk about your commentating career? You’ve done ice dance commentary on TV and livestreams, and you’ve returned to it this year, and have been doing a bit more. You also had a presence on Twitter this season, offering event commentary there.

Agosto:  Right after I was done competing, I needed a little bit of space from the sport. There were a couple of years when I really didn’t want to watch very much. But then I started to realize how exciting it is to be on the other side. I was always on the ice before. It’s exciting when you’re not on the ice and you’re watching what everybody is doing. And especially, to see how the sport has evolved since 2010, which was my last competitive year. 

I went through the ISU technical specialist training for ice dance. That was really eye-opening, to [see] how much scrutiny is placed on the edges. I feel like there’s a need for the audience to be able to understand the rules. They’re very complicated now. Especially with ice dance, everything is so subtle. The difference between 1st and 5th place can be as little as a couple of edges that were wobbly, instead of being really smooth. 

A big goal of mine, in my commentary, is to help people understand why couples are receiving the scores they are. Because everybody looks good. At this level, everybody’s incredible. So what is separating them? We had a lot of falls the other night [in the Four Continents rhythm dance]. But usually it’s not as simple as, Well, they fell, or didn’t fall. There’s a lot of detail that has been a real challenge to convey, in a way that’s understandable but also doesn’t take a year to get through. [Smiles

I used to really enjoy it when I had the chance to work [onscreen] with Tanith. [Note: In the past, Agosto and his former partner sometimes joined forces in the telecast booth for TV coverage on the Olympic Channel or other NBC networks.] Tanith was starting to get into that play-by-play role, and I was doing the analyst role. It was right back into our normal banter. That was really fun, when we had those opportunities.

Belbin and Agosto with their silver medals at the 2006 Torino Olympics

This year, the commentary I’ve been doing on Twitter has been fun, because I can think about what I want to say before I write it. Whereas, when you’re doing commentary live, you just have to say it. You have to come up with a phrase right in the moment. The Twitter [commentary] has been really helpful to practice coalescing my thoughts in a more streamlined and very concise way, because you don’t have many characters on Twitter. That’s been great practice. 

And, being up in the booth with Terry Gannon and Johnny Weir at this year’s U.S. Championships was very exciting. I’ve known Johnny for a long time. We used to tour together. We were actually roommates one year during Champions on Ice–many, many moons ago. We’ve always had a nice friendship, and it was really easy to get back into that comfortable vibe, playing off of each other. I hope I’ll have the opportunity to do more of that. 

Q:  Would you be interested in commentating for the ISU YouTube livestreams?

Agosto:  Yes. Actually, I had that opportunity last year. It was for the World feed for the 2022 U.S. Figure Skating Championships. I talked through every single skater, in every discipline. It was a marathon. I have a great appreciation now for everyone who does that in each Grand Prix event; they do an amazing job. It’s challenging. Once I got into it, it was kind of fun, because there was nobody else [commentating] to step on their toes. I could say whatever I wanted, and [introduce] each segment and announce the skaters. It was a great learning space, to learn the different roles [in broadcasting]. 

In the NBC booth, it felt quite comfortable because Terry Gannon is such an incredible pro. He was very welcoming, took on a mentoring role, and made me feel right at home. And Johnny was very kind, saying: “This is dance, this is your booth, I’m just here to add a little spice to it.” So I could just sit and get into the role of analyst, and let the thoughts come. Which is still not easy, but it was really enjoyable.

When I was doing the World feed [the previous year], I was trying to do Terry’s role, and my role, and Johnny’s role. 

Q:  I have a question about commentary. I assume that you personally know most of the ice dancers. How do you commentate on their performances in a way that’s fair, but also respectful of them as people? Is there ever a concern that it will affect your personal relationship with them?

Agosto:  Well, as time goes by, I know less and less of them closely. But it’s certainly something that is important. I think my general philosophy is to always be kind, regardless of who it is. Because what everybody is doing is really hard. I have so much respect for the time and effort that everybody puts into their training to be prepared, to go to these competitions. When it doesn’t go right, that’s already difficult for them. 

So I think number 1 is to be kind. And then, to call out when something’s not what it should be, or as good as it should be. If I can stay with those two pillars in mind–to be critical and informative, but also kind–then I think it’s okay. That’s the guiding light. If my friends skate poorly, they know they skated poorly. They wouldn’t want me saying that it was an amazing performance, anyway.

Belbin and Agosto performing in Torino (Photo by Vladimir Rys/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Q:  Skaters get a lot of feedback from judges and coaches and officials. Since they’re so used to getting all that feedback/criticism, I sometimes wonder if it makes it harder or easier to hear negative commentary in a more public forum, such as TV or print journalism. What’s your take on that?

Agosto:  Well, as a judged sport, figure skating is a very judgmental sport. And, unfortunately, I think skaters get too much criticism, on things that are either not in their control, or necessarily relevant. There’s always so much discussion about the way people look, and their size. And those things have nothing to do with how good their skating is, or the elements or the content of their programs, or how innovative or interesting or difficult it is. So, I think, unfortunately, skaters are used to that.

It goes right back to being kind. The critique should be on the skating. Either the technique or quality or content. How did their execution match what the rules are requiring, and will they be able to earn the levels they’re going for? Not things like, Do I like their hair? 

I once was told by a judge that my head was too small for my body. I was like, What am I supposed to do with that? l was a little kid. This was not helpful, in that moment. So yes, I think skaters are used to it [criticism]. And obviously, being in a public forum, it makes it potentially more impactful, in a negative way. That’s always something in my mind. 

Q:  Since you’ve been commentating on, and following, the sport for the past few years, what are your general thoughts on the direction where figure skating is headed right now? Do you like what you’re seeing? 

Agosto:  That’s a tough question. When we look at figure skating, in general … The sport is struggling to maintain its grip on people’s imaginations. It feels like it’s becoming less and less visible. Being in the sport, it’s hard to see this. I think the sport really needs to continue to try to connect with, and expand, the audience. I think the rules are very complicated. So that may alienate some people. They watch and are like, I don’t know if that was good. They see a score and are like, I don’t know if the score was good.

Obviously, there were problems with the 6.0 [judging system] because it was hard to have accountability and to make sure that skaters were being rewarded appropriately for what they performed. I think there’s a lot of work for us in the sport to continue to make people excited about skating. Commentary is part of that. I live here in Colorado Springs, and any time people come to visit, one of the things I recommend is going to the Olympic Museum, which is right here. It opened two years ago, and it’s fabulous. You walk through the whole museum, and then the final thing is a theater where they show a film, just talking about Olympic history, and these great [Olympic] moments. You just get goosebumps; it’s incredible. The way that those moments are called by those announcers [helps] make them memorable. 

Q:  It does add to the experience.

Agosto:  That’s something my wife has been saying to me:  When you’re commentating, you have the ability to make this moment really special for the audience. That’s how they are going to remember it. Usually the skating is incredible, regardless. But when there’s that moment … Terry Gannon does an amazing job of helping the audience understand the gravity of the moment, how special this is, how important. And I think, the less opportunities that the audience has to experience that, the harder it is for them to connect to the sport and the athletes. So I think we have to try to keep putting it out there. 

The athletes are working incredibly hard to do their part.  Every year, there’s these [ISU] meetings about what the rules are for next year. Especially for ice dance, they send out a whole encyclopedia of new rules. As coaches, we have to go through and try to figure it out. We’ll see what comes out of those meetings. Hopefully it will be pushing the sport in the direction that keeps it entertaining, keeps it accessible. They talk about the remote control … we want people to keep watching. We don’t want people to change the channel when it’s on. 

Belbin and Agosto competing later in their career

Q:  Considering the need to keep people’s interest, what’s your thought on the proposed 1980s theme for next year’s rhythm dance?

Agosto:  An 80s theme–I was kind of chuckling. It could either be a rhythm, or it could be your Halloween party theme. [Smiles] I think the audience will really enjoy it. I know I’ll enjoy it; I love 80s music. A lot of the skaters will have a great time. It’ll be interesting to see what the content of the required elements ends up being. To see if that will help push it in the direction of people being like, Yes, this is great. 

I think the danger is that everyone could start to look too similar. That being said, I missed the pattern dance in the rhythm dance this year, because I like the opportunity to differentiate the couples when they do the same thing. Just for that one moment [in the rhythm dance]. The rest of the time, they do their own thing. Hopefully, we’ll continue to have opportunities to differentiate everyone’s skating skills. 

The 80s costumes could be fun. Maybe people will go for big hairstyles–since I was just talking about things that aren’t relevant. [Laughs] But they are relevant to people’s enjoyment of watching it–just creating the characters, coming up with the themes. There’s tons of music to choose from. I think it’ll be fun.

Q:  Would you support bringing the compulsory pattern back into the rhythm dance? It’s unclear what’s going to happen next season.

Agosto:  Yes, it is unclear. I would support the pattern dance being brought back. But I enjoyed the [choreographic] rhythm sequence this past season. I thought that was great. Pattern dances take a lot of time to train. So I think functionally, for everybody’s daily training, it was maybe nicer to not have the pattern dance. It takes a pretty big chunk of the program. When you’re choreographing, it’s like this [part] is taken already [for the pattern], and then how do you work around that? That’s a challenge, to create a cohesive, interesting piece that works with the pattern dance. 

I think my traditionalist side just misses the standalone pattern dance as it used to be [i.e., the compulsory dances]. But, that’s a thing of the past. I don’t think that’s what people want to be watching. I’m excited to see what they decide on. I know there’s lots of things being discussed. 

Q:  I think ice dance fans are also really interested to hear the decision. It seems like the rhythm dance requirements will come out sooner this season than was the case last season.

Agosto:  That would be nice. Obviously, it’s hard. They’re mandated with writing rules, but it’s hard to make sure it’s all pushing the sport in the right direction. Everybody has their own idea of what that is.

Agosto with his wife, Katherine Hill

Q:  In addition to your commentary work, can you talk about your other projects? You just produced the Four Continents opening ceremonies with your wife. How did that go?

Agosto:  It was fun. This was our first event that we really produced. We’ve been doing a lot of choreography work together. Last year, we worked on a film, which is hopefully going to come out sometime this year on Apple TV+. We’re not allowed to say what it is; we’re still under non-disclosure [agreements]. But that was an incredible experience, taking skating completely out of what we normally do. I’m really excited for it to come out. We worked on Cirque du Soleil together [“Axel” show], and we choreographed for Battle of the Blades [Canadian skating show]. It’s been really fun to have all these cool projects. We also coach; we have four ice dance couples right now that we’re coaching. Also, Katherine choreographed Amber Glenn’s short program this season. 

So we’ve been staying busy. It’s fun to put on different hats. Then you don’t burn out on any one of them. All the choreography work feels like it gives us more that we can bring to our students. Different perspectives and ideas on what is the goal of a program. It’s not just to do the required elements, and it’s not just to entertain the audience. How do you put it all together, and make it exciting?

Q:  With all of these projects, are you also doing work as a technical specialist?

Agosto:  No, I haven’t had time. It was really helpful to learn everything. When I went through the schooling [for it], I was looking forward to being on a panel and being like, Hey, I’m in the position to help make sure everyone is awarded the points that they’ve earned. But, with scheduling, I was just not able to make it all happen. We’ll see if that’s something I come back to over the next few years. But right now, I’ve got a pretty full plate. 

You can follow Ben Agosto on Twitter at


Lajoie/Lagha: “Worlds is the little piece that is missing to have had the perfect season”

Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha have had a breakout season in 2022-23. But when the rhythm dance starts next week at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships, they will  unfortunately be missing from the roster. It’s their misfortune that Canada has only two ice dance spots at Worlds this year–and three high-ranked ice dance teams. So it was always a given that one of the talented Canadian teams would have to stay home from Saitama.

It’s extra-disappointing for Lajoie, 22, and Lagha, 23, because they’ve had their best season by far. The duo notched two Challenger Series wins last fall, secured their first-ever medals on the  Grand Prix, and mounted a strong challenge for the title at the 2023 Canadian National Championships (ultimately falling just short and taking silver).

Not only did Lajoie/Lagha have great results, they also connected with skating fans via two crowd–pleasing and popular programs. Their “Cha Cha Slide” rhythm dance, with its spoken step commands and infectious melody, was an immediate hit and showcased their speed and energy. And the couple’s free dance to “Nureyev” from the The White Crow soundtrack revealed an emotionally intense, dramatic side to their skating that hadn’t been seen recently. Their free skate also got more exposure in a beautifully staged video from Jordan Cowan of On Ice Perspectives, which has over 11,000 views on YouTube.

Before this season, Lajoie and Lagha were already fixtures on the international ice dance scene. Their four-year junior career culminated with the 2019 Junior World title, and they’ve been competing in seniors since then. But it’s perhaps only this season that Lajoie and Lagha have captured the full attention of skating fans. The duo–who have been partners for 12 years–convey the impression of opposites on the ice. Lajoie’s wide smile and vivacity contrast strikingly with Lagha’s intensity and dramatic quality. It’s a unique partnership, in which the individual qualities of each partner are not subsumed to the whole, but rather, stand out in relief and complement each other.

Lajoie and Lagha–often known as “Marjo” and “Zak” in the skating world–train at the I.AM ice dance center in Montreal, Canada, with coaches Romain Hagenauer, Marie-France Dubreuil, and Patrice Lauzon. Although they regret that they’ll miss Worlds, they were happy to finish their season on a high note by winning the bronze medal at Four Continents. 

When I spoke with them in Colorado Springs, Lajoie and Lagha expressed satisfaction with their accomplishments this season. Off the ice, Lajoie has a sunny charm befitting her surname (which means “joy” in French), while Lagha is thoughtful and incisive. We talked about their season, how they developed their programs, why they find competition difficult, and what they want to work on in the off-season. 

Continue reading “Lajoie/Lagha: “Worlds is the little piece that is missing to have had the perfect season””

Kam/O’Shea Seize the Moment

Photos by Robin Ritoss Photography

Three competitions, three medals.

It appears the new partnership of Ellie Kam and Danny O’Shea has found instant success. Last month, the new pairs team won the bronze medal at the 2023 U.S. Championships in San Jose, California. They will compete this week at the 2023 ISU Four Continents Championships and next month at the 2022 ISU World Championships.

“To be where we are in a really short period of time, it’s very exciting,” O’Shea said.

So how did Kam, a 18-year-old who had just moved up to the senior level, find herself skating with O’Shea, the 31-year-old who has won U.S. and Four Continents titles?

Read more: Kam/O’Shea Seize the Moment

Following his split with (and eventual retirement of) Tarah Kayne in December 2021, O’Shea teamed up with Chelsea Liu, who had previously skated with Brian Johnson, in spring 2021. Liu and O’Shea trained with Jenni Meno and Todd Sand in Irvine, California. The duo competed in three international events that fall. However, Liu and O’Shea suffered a devastating fall at the Warsaw Cup competition in November 2021. The injury ended their season, and ultimately, ended the partnership.

“I was unsure what the next steps were, really,” O’Shea said of the situation. “I just focused on my recovery for a while.”

Following the accident, O’Shea went to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to work on his recovery. He said it was two months before he was even cleared to be back on the ice. He returned to California to do some coaching for a bit, but then decided to go back to Colorado Springs.

“I had a lot of fun working with some amazing students there [in California], but decided that no matter what I was doing, I wanted to be back in Colorado with my family,” O’Shea said, noting that he owns a home in Colorado Springs and had always considered Colorado Springs home.

O’Shea consulted with U.S. Figure Skating to see what his options were. He had a few tryouts at the end of last season, but none of them worked out in terms of skating compatibility and wanting to be in Colorado Springs.

“Family is a priority for me, and I wanted to be around them,” he added.

Upon moving back to Colorado Springs, pairs coach Drew Meekins invited O’Shea to come and work with his younger female students who didn’t have partners. O’Shea coached three days a week, helping girls who did not have partners with lifts and throws, as well as working with the established pairs teams at the World Arena Skating Academy (WASA). One of those teams was Kam and her partner at the time, Ian Meyh.

“She was doing a great job,” O’Shea said of his future partner’s development as a pairs skater.

When O’Shea wasn’t at the rink, he focused on working in real estate with his father, Don.

“I flipped two homes,” he shared, in regard to his real estate work. “I was actually in the homes doing the remodeling myself; it was a bit fun for me.”

Although he was enjoying his life outside of skating, as O’Shea continued to skate more, he talked with Meekins about his options for competing again.

“I was still feeling like I had a lot to give to this sport and to show what I was still capable of,” O’Shea said, noting that Meekins was very supportive of his decision to return to competitive skating.

Around this same time, Kam and Meyh ended their partnership. The team had qualified for the 2022 U.S. Championships on the junior level, but withdrew after the short program. They competed seniors in two club competitions over the summer.

“The partnership I had with Ian was an amazing experience,” Kam said, noting that it was a mutual split. “I learned everything, pairs-wise, with Ian. It was hard emotionally, because [the split] was in the middle of the season, and that’s not something you can really plan normally. But we both decided that that’s what we thought was best.”

Just days after the partnership dissolved, Meekins suggested that Kam and O’Shea start skating together in order to ease the transition, but also as a possible partnership.

“We started skating a little bit and it worked very well, very quickly,” O’Shea said. “That first week, we started trying to get things rolling.”

“When we started to skate together, it was really crazy,” Kam added. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I get to skate with Danny O’Shea. This is really exciting.’”

Kam and O’Shea officially became a team in September.

“It’s a pleasure [working with Ellie],” O’Shea shared of Kam. “Ellie’s such a hard worker and has a great positive attitude on the ice.”

“He’s an amazing human being. I’m really lucky just to be able to skate with him,” Kam said of O’Shea. “His experience is like a bonus to all of that. It’s something I hope I’m able to take and learn from, and we can both build it up together.”

In November, they were assigned to the IceChallenge in Graz, Austria, where the team rose to the top of the podium, claiming the gold medal. The following month, Kam and O’Shea competed at a Challenger Series event, the Golden Spin of Zagreb in Croatia. They brought home the silver medal there.

“I had a good feeling about things from that first week [we started skating together],” O’Shea told A Divine Sport. “The way we were skating from the beginning and the quality of the components and the skating skills and the overall performance aspects, was something that I could tell was very strong from the very beginning.

“Did we expect to go and win our first competition? Not necessarily,” O’Shea added. “But we were very comfortable going out and performing and felt that we were going to have a good experience at the very least.”

Meekins, who serves as the team’s head coach, says the partnership has been something really special to guide. 

“The way that they have come together, and really become a true team in just under five months is quite amazing, and it’s due to the dedication of them both and their passion and love for the sport,” Meekins wrote in an email. 

Last month, at only their third competition together, Kam and O’Shea won the bronze medal at the 2023 U.S. Championships. The event marked their first competition together in front of a U.S. crowd, and also Kam’s first senior Nationals.

“This whole season is a lot of firsts for me,”  Kam said. “Skating on the ice with Alexa [Knierim] and Brandon [Frazier], that was something special. We kind of made sure that we took our time with everything and made sure to enjoy each moment.”

Kam said they also looked at Nationals as a learning experience. Although they have had exceptional results in just a few short months as a team, they know there is still room for improvement and development. Currently, Kam and O’Shea are only doing double throw jumps. They are also still working on improving the timing of the catch of their triple twist. In San Jose, their twist received a level 3 in both the short program and free skate, and Kam fell on landing of the twist in the free skate.

“It’s one of the elements that we want to continue growing on, ” O’Shea said of the triple twist. “There’s a lot of potential for it to be better than it is already. We got level 4s [on the twist] the first two competitions that we did. And when we didn’t here [at Nationals], that was a focus for the long program, and we ended up putting the energy in the wrong places a little bit.

“There’s a few things that we’re definitely going to attack when we go home,” O’Shea added. “We’ve been playing around with side-by-side triple toes, as well as some throw triples. The mentality for us for the season is to show strong skating [and] elements that we feel comfortable with and are confident in, and really lay it on thick with the performance.”

With their third-place results at Nationals, the team received one of the three U.S. pairs spots for the ISU Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs, Feb. 7-13. Kam and O’Shea have a bit of an advantage for Four Continents: The competition will take place in the World Arena, which is their home rink.

“We love the altitude,” O’Shea laughed. “The World Arena is an amazing venue and to have people from around the world be able to come to our hometown, it’s going to be an awesome experience,” he added.

Kam and O’Shea were also named to Team USA’s World Championship team. When they first found out they were named to the World team, Kam said she was a bit shocked by the news, while O’Shea gave Meekins a massive hug.

“We didn’t know what to expect, being so new, and being that we did make some mistakes out there,” O’Shea said, referring to their free skate at Nationals. “We know that we have room to grow, but we’re excited to have the support and the trust that they’re giving us to go perform at these competitions, and we’re going to go out there and prove them right.”

Worlds will take place March 20-26 in Saitama, Japan. Ellie Kam was born at the Yokota Air Base in Japan.

“I have some family there and, hopefully, they will get to come watch,” said Kam, who will be competing in her first World Championships.

Kam and O’Shea are just hoping to keep improving with every competition, and are glad to have these opportunities to develop as a team.

“If we can keep building on this competition (Nationals), Four Continents and Worlds, I think that we will definitely check this off as a successful season,” O’Shea mentioned.

“This season has been a blessing for us, but also a whirlwind,” Meekins said. “When the dust finally settles on their first season together, I think there will be a lot of room for growth and development, both technically and artistically, but also for them to find their voice and point of view on the ice together.”

Looking beyond this season, O’Shea wasn’t shy in saying that they have long-term goals, which include the next Olympics in Milan, Italy, in 2026.

“We have the ability and we have the right set of skills. The opportunity is there in front of us,” said O’Shea.

Roman Sadovsky Prepares for New Season

After an eventful Olympic season–which saw him swing from a 29th-place finish in Beijing all the way up to 12th place at Worlds–Roman Sadovsky is back and ready to start a new four-year cycle of competition. This past weekend at Skate America in Norwood, MA, he finished fifth in a strong men’s field. American phenom Ilia Malinin grabbed headlines–and the Skate America title–when he landed a quad Axel in the free skate. But Sadovsky also impressed the crowd and judges in Norwood, landing some quad Salchows and debuting a new long program. His next Grand Prix event is the MK John Wilson Trophy in Sheffield, England.

The day after the men’s competition, I spoke with Sadovsky to get an update on how his off-season went, the process of creating his new programs, and his progress with quad jumps.

Continue reading “Roman Sadovsky Prepares for New Season”

Hawayek/Baker Stay True to Themselves

Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker are excited to be kicking off their Grand Prix season this weekend at Skate America. They have big plans for this year’s Grand Prix–and this season in general.

“We are absolutely aiming to be at the [Grand Prix] Final this year, which would mean podiuming at both of our Grand Prixs,” Baker said. “We don’t go into an event trying to be second. We want to be the best we can. We want to be in the top 6 at Worlds, absolutely. And we want to be stepping into the role of being National champions. We know that Chock/Bates have been [there] for a very long time, but we have to believe we can push into that space. Otherwise, we’re only ever going to be behind them.”  

Continue reading “Hawayek/Baker Stay True to Themselves”

Coach Spotlight: Jim Peterson

Jim Peterson is a familiar face to U.S. pairs skating fans. He’s been a leading coach in the discipline for many years now. At his former base in Ellenton, Florida, Peterson worked with a number of top U.S. pairs over the last decade and successfully guided three of them to the Olympic Games: Caydee Denney/Jeremy Barrett, Amanda Evora/Mark Ladwig, and Felicia Zhang/Nate Bartholomay. Peterson also coached  2016 U.S. champions Tarah Kayne/Danny O’Shea.

During the last few years, Peterson’s coaching career has changed a bit. First, his former student Amanda Evora has joined him as co-head coach of their students. And, after over a decade in Florida, Peterson and Evora decided to move their school north to the Arctic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Michigan. They now work in the same rink as the Michigan Ice Dance Academy (MIDA), recently launched by Charlie White, Tanith White, and Greg Zuerlein.

Last month, Peterson accompanied his and Evora’s students Valentina Plazas and Maximiliano Fernandez to the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, where the team won bronze. After the event, Peterson gave me an update about his new skating school, his partnership with Evora, their work with Plazas/Fernandez, and his thoughts on recent happenings in the pairs discipline.

Continue reading “Coach Spotlight: Jim Peterson”

Coach Spotlight: Alex Johnson

When Alex Johnson stepped away from competitive skating in spring 2019, his goal was to pursue a career in business, while staying involved with figure skating. Two years later, Johnson is thriving professionally, having recently started a new job as a financial analyst with Amazon. He’s also taking on a new, high-profile role as head coach for Camden Pulkinen, who finished fifth last season at both U.S. Nationals and Worlds. Pulkinen is a student at Columbia University in New York City. Johnson recently accompanied Pulkinen to Lake Placid for the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic, where I had a chance to chat with him.

Continue reading “Coach Spotlight: Alex Johnson”

Reed/Ambrulevicius: “We haven’t reached our limit”

Ice dancers Allison Reed and Saulius Ambrulevicius, who represent Lithuania, have both been part of the international ice dance scene for many years now. Reed began competing internationally in 2009, while Ambrulevicius’s ice dance career began in 2014. But, it’s only since the couple teamed up and started to compete together that they have gained increasing recognition from ice dance judges and fans alike. 

Continue reading “Reed/Ambrulevicius: “We haven’t reached our limit””

Roman Sadovsky: “I’m proud that I finished the season well”

For 22-year-old Roman Sadovsky of Canada, the Olympic season was one of peaks and valleys. The peaks included qualifying a second men’s Olympic spot at Nebelhorn Trophy in September and placing fourth at Rostelecom Cup in November. Unfortunately, the low point came at the Olympic Games in Beijing, where Sadovsky struggled and placed 29th in the individual men’s event, failing to make the long program. How satisfying, then, for Sadovsky to rebound at the 2022 ISU World Championships in Montpellier, France, where he recorded his highest placement so far  at a major ISU championship (12th). 

I talked with Sadovsky and his longtime coach, Tracy Wainman, in the mixed zone at Worlds to get their reactions to his performances in Montpellier. The duo also spoke about the war in Ukraine and how it’s affected Sadovsky, whose parents both emigrated to Canada from Ukraine.

Continue reading “Roman Sadovsky: “I’m proud that I finished the season well””

Bruno Marcotte: “Miura/Kihara are very special”

“I have mixed emotions,” coach Bruno Marcotte confessed Thursday night, after his students Riku Miura, 20, and Ryuichi Kihara, 29, won the silver medal at the ISU World Championships in Montpellier, France. Seeing Miura/Kihara reach the World podium–less than three years after they first teamed up–was exciting. However, Marcotte also knows that his team is capable of more than they delivered in their free skate at Worlds.

 “Their practices here were great,” Marcotte said. “After the Olympics, I felt like they needed to come down a little bit [from their Olympic peak]. After every competition, you need to come down. But it was like they were resisting that. Training was a struggle for a bit.” 

Continue reading “Bruno Marcotte: “Miura/Kihara are very special””