U.S. Pairs 2018-19 season - News & Updates, Part IX

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
Messages
59,182
There's an article about Szolkowy in the OlympicTalk blog as well: Five-time world champion figure skater to develop U.S. pairs training center
Excerpt re. the Knierims split from Aljona Savchenko:
There’s certain things that we learned [in Germany] that we’re going to continue to incorporate on a daily basis,” Scimeca Knierim said of the split in a recent media teleconference ahead of the national championships later this month.
“It’s quite simple. It just didn’t work out. Chris and I knew when we decided to part ways that there would be no regrets leaving there because we took everything we could. We just felt like if we had stayed, there would’ve been more of a downward slope in some terms of things than others. We kind of felt like we needed to save ourselves in the moment which is why we made the switch [to Jenni and Todd] so quickly.”
According to a German report [Freie Presse], Szolkowy chose Los Angeles after visiting several pairs hot spots in the U.S. and discussions with U.S. Figure Skating. The new school has plans to include both U.S. and international teams. The report also suggested this could be a long-term arrangement, through the Winter Olympics in 2022 and beyond.
Re-posting from the German news thread:
The current issue of Pirouette Magazine has an interview with Robin Szolkowy where he talks in detail about his move. The Freie Presse article is based on that interview.
 
Last edited:

aftershocks

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,867
^^ Thanks for the additional input @Sylvia with further quotes by Alexa. Oftentimes, what gets published is only part of a skater's response, and this is a perfect case in point. Different publications will often print different quotes from the same interview. Too bad USFS no longer makes audio of these pre-event teleconferences available to fans.

The latest issue of Pirouette magazine referenced by @Eislauffan, has Rika Kihira on the cover:
http://pirouette-online.de/ (Kihira made February IFS cover too) :)

Maybe Robin Szolkowy can do for U.S. pairs what Igor Shpilband did for U.S. ice dancers: A good rink and coach to establish a center for eager American pairs to develop to their maximum.

ETA - The tight lipped response makes me super curious about what went down between Aljona and the Knierims
We don't know everything, and I don't think we should be expecting a detailed rundown from either Aliona or the Knierims. Some things should remain private. I'm in a mood to celebrate the good that they achieved together and to encourage the Knierims moving forward, and to enjoy Aliona's future projects and endeavors.

I've always enjoyed watching Todd and Jenni during their skating career, and it's always cool seeing them in the kiss 'n cry these days with their skaters! :encore: Plus, I adore Aliona and what she achieved with both Robin (& Ingo) and in recent years, with Bruno. I'm thrilled to see Robin coming to the U.S. to work with Jenni & Todd! Plus it's great that Raf is going to be stationed at this new facility in Irvine, to further his vision of a productive training center for skaters!

Additional quote by Robin from the IFS article:
"In the summer of 2018, Szolkowy visited various training centers in Colorado Springs, Florida and California. Szolkowy and his wife decided they would go to Irvine. 'An important point in the decision was that we had an impressive guided tour through the new training center they were building. I’ll have the opportunity to be part of it as a coach from the very beginning, and to introduce my own ideas,' Szolkowy said. 'Jenni Meno, Todd Sand and myself want to get together as a pairs coaching team and build something from scratch.'"
 
Last edited:

Karen-W

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,416
Meno & Sand were my favorite US pairs team during their era (and probably my fave US team in the last quarter century) and I adored Szolkowy when he was partnered with Aljona. I'm hesitant, given the consistent downward spiral of the US Pairs program, to get really excited about this coaching partnership, but I can't help myself. Maybe, just maybe, Robin is the missing ingredient that Todd & Jenni need to bring their pairs teams to the top (of the US at least).

I still really want to see one or more good/strong US team go to John Zimmerman because it kind of blows my mind that no one's gone there yet given the success he is having with James/Cipres.
 

RoseRed

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,557
Meno & Sand were my favorite US pairs team during their era (and probably my fave US team in the last quarter century) and I adored Szolkowy when he was partnered with Aljona. I'm hesitant, given the consistent downward spiral of the US Pairs program, to get really excited about this coaching partnership, but I can't help myself. Maybe, just maybe, Robin is the missing ingredient that Todd & Jenni need to bring their pairs teams to the top (of the US at least).

I still really want to see one or more good/strong US team go to John Zimmerman because it kind of blows my mind that no one's gone there yet given the success he is having with James/Cipres.
Other than Denney/Frazier, you mean?
 

Karen-W

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,416
Other than Denney/Frazier, you mean?
I thought they had left Zimmerman, but I'm probably misremembering. Or, possibly discounting them since they can't seem to get past her ongoing injury issues (which is sad because I do like them).
 

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
Messages
59,182
In addition to Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier, Zimmerman/Fontana have the 2018 Intermediate Pairs champs Zoe Larson/Nick Hubbart and Alexandra Schneiderhahn/Timmy Chapman (I believe she is new to pairs) -- both teams will compete Novice at Nationals -- as well as the new Junior team of Sarah Rose/Jim Garbutt.

There was a send-off show yesterday in Wesley Chapel, FL (with Team France): https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsic1WXg3Hw/
 

RoseRed

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,557
I thought they had left Zimmerman, but I'm probably misremembering. Or, possibly discounting them since they can't seem to get past her ongoing injury issues (which is sad because I do like them).
They left, but then came back this past off season.
 

aftershocks

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,867
They left, but then came back this past off season.
Exactly. John Z and Sylvia Fontana shepherded Haven and Brandon to their 2013 World Junior Championship win:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eihOf2ZoyQ8 Toward the end, see the star lift into back-bending circus-like lift. H&B were one of the first, if not the first pair team to perform that creative lift position in this entertaining combination lift! They continue to have some of the best lifts among pairs teams internationally.

H&B have experienced a lot of ups-and-downs coming on six years after their World junior championship victory. They left Zimmerman/Fontana in 2015 to work with Ingo Steuer who had initially been recruited by John Z as a consultant/ collaborator. Sadly, that off-season Haven suffered her devastating knee injury, and it took them a year for her to rehabilitate. They enjoyed some successes in their comeback season (2016-17), but Haven's injury did not seem fully healed. If it is fully healed now, perhaps she is still struggling with the mental aspects involved in full rehabilitation of such a serious injury. I admire H&B for how they've stuck together and supported each other. Good luck to them in their second go-round with Zimmerman/Fontana. :)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QXlo4AV6leg H&B's Lion King 2014 SA :encore:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KIsmOEsGMbg H&B: From Floor to Ice


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BqWQzOzK3kw I Want to Take You Higher
"Baby, baby, baby, take me higher ... boom lacca lacca lacca whoo!"
Pssst, not intended for T/M and Mozer to start getting any ideas about utilizing this back-in-de-day classic by Sly and familia! :p ;)
 

aftershocks

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,867
In addition to Haven Denney/Brandon Frazier, Zimmerman/Fontana have the 2018 Intermediate Pairs champs Zoe Larson/Nick Hubbart and Alexandra Schneiderhahn/Timmy Chapman (I believe she is new to pairs) -- both teams will compete Novice at Nationals -- as well as the new Junior team of Sarah Rose/Jim Garbutt.

There was a send-off show yesterday in Wesley Chapel, FL (with Team France): https://www.instagram.com/p/Bsic1WXg3Hw/
Can we get identification of the lessr-known skaters in the picture whom I personally can't match up by their names alone?

I tried to find identifying photos of the novice and junior skaters on USFigure Skating Fan Zone, but I only found these senior skater bios, with great photos: https://usfigureskatingfanzone.com/roster.aspx?path=figureskate
Probably these photos will appear in the 2018-19 USFS Program Guide.
 

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
Messages
59,182
Can we get identification of the lessr-known skaters in the picture whom I personally can't match up by their names alone?
Sitting at the table, L to R: Alexandra Schneiderhahn (partner Timmy Chapman standing above her), Zoe Larson (Aymoz) Sarah Rose, Jim Garbutt.

ETA: Larson's partner, Nick Hubbart, is missing from the IG photo (trivia note: his older brother William will make his Senior Men's debut at Nationals, coached by Peterson/Evora in Ellenton).
 
Last edited:

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
Messages
59,182
Thanks, @Eislauffan! ("The English article on IFS Magazine on Robin Szolkowy's move has been updated with Todd Sand's comments"): https://www.ifsmagazine.com/robin-szolkowy-joins-california-coaching-team/
“We are thrilled that Robin has decided to come to Irvine,” Sand said. “He came for a visit this last fall and we have had several meetings. In the time spent with Robin, we feel that our philosophy on life and skating are very well matched and will make a great team. Our team includes Robin, myself, Jenni Meno and Christine Binder. While we will all have the same goals, we all bring something different and unique to the team. Robin is in the process of arranging his move and we are so looking forward to his arrival soon.” <snip>
Sand said the main goal of the coaching team will be to introduce pairs skating “to more young skaters in the U.S. and to create an elite training program that produces elite pairs at all levels. We intend to create a culture of excellence in our facility where the skaters want to be there everyday, and work hard to be the best athletes they can be.”
ETA Szolkowy's IG post today: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsjLsYnhZch/
 
Last edited:

olympic

Well-Known Member
Messages
9,233
Talk on the board about Zimmerman - James / Cipres - Why aren't American pairs utiliizing Zimmerman? shows that there is a disproportionate focus on the coach (that I admit to sharing in the past).

A coach can only do so much. It is up to the skaters to deliver in the end. Whatever road gets them there, whether it is about the long, slow process of fixing technique or overcoming fears and phobias. The coach [a good one] can only show them the way. The skater(s) has to walk thru the door. There is also the situation of taking advantage of a lucky situation and staying injury free. An example of taking advantage would be the US pairs being in the mix for so many GPs due to a depleted field, but yet they didn't quite get there: Example - Our top pair, The Knierims were there and so close 2-3 times to winning a GP or Senior B, but Alexa is sitting down on her throws in the SP and SBS jumps right now. Something we all agree that she can do. But, it got away from them. There is no way a coach alone solves that problem.
 

LilJen

Reaching out with my hand sensitively
Messages
12,865
I noticed that the authors seemed to gloss over the fact that she broke off the partnership with Shnapir by claiming he wanted to retire. I admit that makes me curious about her claim that Tran broke this pairing up.
I don't remember the retirement bit with Simon. I remember what others remember--it being widely known that they'd been struggling to get along for years, felt they had done really well to achieve what they had achieved, and mutually decided to part, finally.
 

Tinami Amori

Well-Known Member
Messages
18,104
A coach can only do so much. It is up to the skaters to deliver in the end. Whatever road gets them there, whether it is about the long, slow process of fixing technique or overcoming fears and phobias. The coach [a good one] can only show them the way. The skater(s) has to walk thru the door.
Exactly..... and if both, coach and skater do their best to deliver, there are also physique factors (and born-with advantages and limitations) which play a role.
 

wickedwitch

Well-Known Member
Messages
14,586
I personally think coaching is one of the biggest (although obviously not the only) limitations currently with US pairs. So I'm optimistic about what Szolkowy can do.
 

Firedancer

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,332
I really liked Szolkowy when he skated with Aljona. I’m excited to see what he can do for the US pairs.
 

Joubabe

Member
Messages
47
I don't remember the retirement bit with Simon. I remember what others remember--it being widely known that they'd been struggling to get along for years, felt they had done really well to achieve what they had achieved, and mutually decided to part, finally.
The narrative is part of Marissa’s PR machine. Simon did not decide to retire. Marissa dumped him even though he wanted to continue the partnership. Although they may have had struggles, all the negativism was on her side. Every interview was Marissa bad-mouthing Simon and their partnership. Never did I hear Simon say a bad word about Marissa. He was always a classy gentleman. I was sorry that his partnership with Dee Dee didn’t work out due to their injuries.
 

aftershocks

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,867
Thanks, @Eislauffan! ("The English article on IFS Magazine on Robin Szolkowy's move has been updated with Todd Sand's comments"): https://www.ifsmagazine.com/robin-szolkowy-joins-california-coaching-team/

ETA Szolkowy's IG post today: https://www.instagram.com/p/BsjLsYnhZch/
Such a lovely post by Robin with responses that give a warm feeling, including by Alexa Knierim and Kat Witt.

I'm gald the IFS article was updated with comments by Todd Sand.

And so, with the Meno/Sand training camp's move to the new facility and another world-class coach in Robin coming aboard, clearly Alexa & Chris are not planning to go anywhere else, as some had speculated once it was revealed S-K/K would be working with Todd & Jenni.
 

PairSkater12345

Active Member
Messages
188
There are different coaching techniques and approaches to making specific pairs weaknesses strengths. Often, competitive teams make changes in pursuit of that chemistry. Additionally, the best coaches have a unique talent designed to build a competitive culture that cultivates improvement.

In the US, different pairs teams learn in different ways and the teams themselves make adjustments and coaches are a big part of that. There are coaching camps that are more positive than others. To say that coaches can only do so much is myopic. Everyone has to improve and that includes pairs coaches. Anyone can pick apart weaknesses with any team. You have to take a long term view when it comes to improving technique and building consistency. When you get to this level everyone is working hard "to deliver".

You say..."Talk on the board about Zimmerman - James / Cipres - Why aren't American pairs utiliizing Zimmerman? shows that there is a disproportionate focus on the coach (that I admit to sharing in the past)."

Other than James/Cipres that camp hasn't really done that much. Let's see what happens with the other skaters in that camp. The Boston camp hasn't been effective since Marissa and Simon retired. Jim Peterson needs to do something different as well.

In the highly successful countries, there's a disproportionate focus on the coach and the system based on your comments your right and their successful. Russian or Chinese teams just pull up another pair from the farm team if they loose confidence in a team or they just mix and match teams sometimes keeping teams together for development with a plan to move potential stars to another partner in the future. Their resources are vast.........Money, development programs, power to switch pairs teams (individuals aren't given a choice in China). Let's face the truth, Russian and Chinese create a big advantage and in addition bend and break the rules creating an edge.

We have to overcome the obstacles in a different way here.Creating highly competitive camps is the way to go. Developing teamwork with coaches and sharing ideas is a critical success factor. Coaches loosing income is another issue that the best coaches in other countries don't worry about.
 

Carolla5501

Well-Known Member
Messages
5,634
I thought they had left Zimmerman, but I'm probably misremembering. Or, possibly discounting them since they can't seem to get past her ongoing injury issues (which is sad because I do like them).
They left, but then came back this past off season.
It's hard to keep up with Denny/Fraizer and the coaching changes. IMHO I think that's one of their issues, but what do I know???
 

aftershocks

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,867
It's hard to keep up with Denny/Fraizer and the coaching changes. IMHO I think that's one of their issues, but what do I know???
That's too much of a generalization. If you look at the feature I linked earlier on Haven & Brandon, they came together as competitive roller skaters when they were very young. So, they have a long history together which can be an advantage. Perhaps they began training with Sappenfield in Colorado, I'm not sure of the timeline. They broke up briefly when Brandon decided to try playing football. At one point, I believe Haven's family relocated to Florida and then maybe returned to Colorado. Haven and Brandon each paired with different partners with not great success. Then they re-paired with each other and relocated to Florida to work with John Z and Sylvia Fontana.

H&B won 2013 Junior Worlds, and were an up-and-coming team. Their 2014-2015 season started out wonderful and they were looked upon as the team to beat going into U.S. Nationals. And then, the Knierims whipped out their enviable throw quad twist (after a subpar GP season). The quad twist weapon turned out to be all she wrote at Nationals. H&B performed well but not spectacularly at 2015 Nationals and came in second. They got Worlds experience but again did not skate as consistently as they had starting the season at Skate America. The Knierims were not perfect either, but on the strength of their throw quad twist and improved confidence, they landed in 7th at 2015 Worlds as the champion U.S. pair team, and H&B placed 12th.

Sadly, both Chris/Alexa and Haven/Brandon then suffered illness/injury, and both teams have been trying to rebuild their momentum and put it altogether ever since. The fact H&B had to find a different coach after switching to Steuer is a consequence of Haven's injury. Possibly when they were looking for a new coach after Haven's knee rehab, they may have been counseled to train with Brubaker/Berton who had recently begun coaching in Chicago. Having worked with B/B for two seasons, H&B apparently wished to return to John Z and it looks like they feel comfortable with that decision. Haven's serious knee injury and the necessity to find another coach post-rehab was something they simply had to deal with. The cards not being in skaters' favor, is something that often happens.
 
Last edited:

Ena Grins

Active Member
Messages
40
The narrative is part of Marissa’s PR machine. Simon did not decide to retire. Marissa dumped him even though he wanted to continue the partnership. Although they may have had struggles, all the negativism was on her side. Every interview was Marissa bad-mouthing Simon and their partnership. Never did I hear Simon say a bad word about Marissa. He was always a classy gentleman. I was sorry that his partnership with Dee Dee didn’t work out due to their injuries.
Does anyone have any actual references for this? I remember interviews after 2014 where both Simon and Marissa acknowledged that she sat them down and said she wanted to pursue a different partnership. I do not remember her every saying it was because Simon was going to retire. I also don't remember her "bad-mouthing" Simon, just saying that they were both headstrong and did not always get along, especially the first few years.
 

olympic

Well-Known Member
Messages
9,233
In the US, different pairs teams learn in different ways and the teams themselves make adjustments and coaches are a big part of that. There are coaching camps that are more positive than others. To say that coaches can only do so much is myopic. Everyone has to improve and that includes pairs coaches. Anyone can pick apart weaknesses with any team. You have to take a long term view when it comes to improving technique and building consistency. When you get to this level everyone is working hard "to deliver".

You say..."Talk on the board about Zimmerman - James / Cipres - Why aren't American pairs utiliizing Zimmerman? shows that there is a disproportionate focus on the coach (that I admit to sharing in the past)."

Other than James/Cipres that camp hasn't really done that much. Let's see what happens with the other skaters in that camp. The Boston camp hasn't been effective since Marissa and Simon retired. Jim Peterson needs to do something different as well.

In the highly successful countries, there's a disproportionate focus on the coach and the system based on your comments your right and their successful. Russian or Chinese teams just pull up another pair from the farm team if they loose confidence in a team or they just mix and match teams sometimes keeping teams together for development with a plan to move potential stars to another partner in the future. Their resources are vast.........Money, development programs, power to switch pairs teams (individuals aren't given a choice in China). Let's face the truth, Russian and Chinese create a big advantage and in addition bend and break the rules creating an edge.
You don't quote me but I see you pulled language from my post. I bolded your phrase that doesn't make sense: To say that coaches can only do so much is myopic.

To say the opposite would mean that they do everything (?)
 

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
Messages
59,182
Two pair teams no longer on the updated competitors' list that was published yesterday on the Nationals website:

Senior: Sarah Feng (The Skating Club of San Francisco, Inc.) and TJ Nyman (Broadmoor SC, Inc.) :(

Novice: Jasmine Fendi and Joshua Fendi (both Los Angeles FSC)
 

Joubabe

Member
Messages
47
Does anyone have any actual references for this? I remember interviews after 2014 where both Simon and Marissa acknowledged that she sat them down and said she wanted to pursue a different partnership. I do not remember her every saying it was because Simon was going to retire. I also don't remember her "bad-mouthing" Simon, just saying that they were both headstrong and did not always get along, especially the first few years.
I wish I could provide actual references. Unfortunately, with Icenetwork out of existence, I can't find any of the old articles.
 

Users Who Are Viewing This Thread (Users: 0, Guests: 2)

Top