According to my notes, the annual Coaches’ Square Dance (aka "Shuffle") started in early April last year… so you might say we’re off to a late start. But in an Olympic year, how could it be any other way?
Before we get to that first move in the Dance, here are a few other slightly related happenings from the past week:
+ Nominees for annual coaching awards were announced… there are several different ones (including for choreographers) and the details can be found here, but if you’re just curious about Coach of the Year nods, here they are:
Frank Carroll (coach of Evan Lysacek and Mirai Nagasu)
Yuka Sato (coach of Jeremy Abbott)
Jim Peterson (coach of US pairs teams & Olympians Denney/Barrett and Evora/Ladwig)
Igor Shpilband & Marina Zoueva (coach of Virtue/Moir and Davis/White)
Brian Orser (coach of Kim Yu-Na and Adam Rippon)
Saga Krantz (coach of US synchronized skating team The Haydenettes)
Tom Zakrajsek (coach of Rachael Flatt and Ryan Bradley)
I’m no expert in something like this, but in my mind there’s no one else for this year’s award but Brian Orser… not only is he widely credited for culling greatness out of Kim Yu-Na, but hopefully he’s getting equal kudos for helping her keep her focus all the way through Vancouver (for these purposes we’ll just pretend Worlds ’10 didn’t happen, ok?). No easy task there… oh, and somewhere along the way he also happened to steer a breakout season for young Adam Rippon. And if you saw either of his more prominent youngsters recently (S.Korea’s Kwak Min-Jung and USA’s Christina Gao), you know he’s only just getting started.
Well, I think I’ve made my case… the rest of you coaches can go home now. No, wait! Kidding!
First here are some of those other interesting articles…
+ The 2009 winner of Coach of the Year, incidentally, was Tom Zakrajsek… and one of his more prominent current successes, US Ladies Champ Rachael Flatt, answered “Fan Mail” for a pretty lengthy article in the Denver Post last week. No huge revelations to report; she hasn’t chosen a college (though she’s narrowed it to two and may still defer enrollment for at least a year anyway), and she still plans to develop her artistic side more in the coming year… but it’s a fun read, especially if you’re curious how she gets it all done. Trivia bit: you aren’t likely to find her in a long-sleeved skating frock anytime soon; she says with all the TV lights on much of the time it’s actually HOT out there in the arena much of the time!
*** UPDATE*** Actually, Flatt has made a college decision since this article ran... as noted in the comments section, she's going with Stanford.
+ Did you hear the rumor that the aforementioned Mr. Orser was interested in coaching Mao Asada? Thankfully that one was extinguished quickly; as you see here, Orser says Asada’s agent did indeed offer him the job at the end of the season, but he’s not interested. And so the search continues for Asada…
+ I suppose Asada dumping Tarasova counts as the first real move in the Coaches’ Square Dance, but it was such a bygone conclusion for so many of us, I barely think of it as a “move”. This next one, though, is different (and it’s the move I alluded to up at the top of the post): The #3 US ice dance team of Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates is moving up the road… leaving behind longtime coaches Yuri Chesnichenko and Yaroslava Nechaeva, and taking up instead with Igor Shpilband & Marina Zoueva (yet another entry for that Coach of the Year award). Here is one of several articles running about the switch… meanwhile, I just read over at Required Elements that Virtue & Moir have officially decided to continue competing. It’ll be interesting to see if all the teams in the Shpilband/Zoueva stable continue to grow and thrive… I’d hate to think of anyone feeling squeezed out at this point; they’re all so likeable. Hope it all works out.
For the Clip of the Day I found this “vintage” clip of Samuelson/Bates from their Midwestern Sectionals Novice Free Dance… back in 2003, when I believe they were all of 13 and 14!