Fan meeting with the Kerrs

 

By Reut Golinsky, Anna Zeitlin
Photos © Reut Golinsky, Anna Zeitlin

 

I had the idea of such a meeting for a long time, since the meeting we had with Stéphane Lambiel during the Cup of Russia in 2007. That meeting gave a lot to us, his fans, but also, according to his interview, it gave a lot to him. I knew a few people who planned to come to Paris, who would love to meet the charming Scots, and I had a press accreditation for TEB, so I had the opportunity to ask Sinead and John for a half an hour of their time. They agreed immediately, and I'm using AS to thank them for this again. We invited them for a coffee and had the most pleasant forty minutes of our lives. Somehow we didn't feel comfortable to use dictophone and to take photos, as the meeting was very informal, so we wrote Q&A afterwards as we remembered them. I hope Sinead and John enjoyed that meeting too and I sincerely believe that such kind of fan-skater meetings should be done more, as they are enriching for both sides.

Kerrs_Ru: Let us introduce ourselves. All of us here are Russian-speaking fans of yours, but from different countries (Israel, Russia, Kazakhstan). We met on LiveJournal, and we established a community there which is dedicated to you..
Sinead: We know there is some Russian forum for Evgeny, and we know they talk about us there too.
Kerrs_Ru: No, it’s just for you.
John: Really, just for us, nobody else allowed?!
Kerrs_Ru: Yes, just for you. We have a lot of questions for you.

How do you find strength to continue when things do not go your way?
The people who are around are helping a lot, it’s very important to have their support. This year we worked with Maya Usova, so she and Platov were like a good cop/bad cop. Evgeny is more strict, and Maya is more like “oh, John, that’s ok!”, when things are not going well. Also our parents and family support us, they’re far, but we talk on the phone and Skype, which is great.

Talking about the Internet - we really like the things you write in your diary on the official site. They’re so funny and cute.
Really?! I always wonder if anybody reads this.

What is your favourite place to compete?
We like to compete everywhere, but probably Japan is the best, the fans there are really great. People are polite, and they are very different. Also it’s great to do shopping there.

Do you have time to see the places you go to compete? E.g. Paris?
Sometimes. It’s John’s first time in Paris, and we had some time on Thursday, so we went to see the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees..

Who designs your costumes?
We have a Russian lady that works in Russia, NJ and France. We tell her the idea, she makes a sketch and then the costumes are made. She also did Joubert’s costume (but it didn’t come out as good, we were more lucky). This year we wanted the costumes to express that the brother and sister have survived some catastrophe - earthquake maybe - so we wanted the costumes to be torn and ripped apart, to show that.

Do you think it’s harder to skate as a brother and sister, or maybe on the other hand, it pushes you forward and lets you come up with something more original?
It probably comes naturally to us. We never would think to make a love story program, that just wouldn’t come from our hearts.

But your tango last season was very passionate actually.
For compulsory yes, we can make such program if we have to, but tango is probably not a love story anyway, it’s like a battle. It’s more about hating each other than loving, and fighting is not new to us *laughs*.

You’re always very original and fun to watch. We often feel like you don’t get the marks you deserve. For example your last year’s OD was the best in Gothenburg - many people thought that way, but you didn’t get that many points for it.
Yes, sometimes we feel that. But this year we think the judges are more kind to us. The start of the last season was awful, and we became better for the later events of the season. This year started good - we won in Finland and got bronze in both our GP events, so we hope that this will improve further..

It’s like the judges too finally started to like you, not just the crowd?
Yes, something like that *laughs*.

Yes, congratulations for getting medals on both of your Grand Prix events! BTW, do you know that your marks from Skate America are higher than marks of gold medalists both from Skate Canada and Cup of China?
Yes, we know. Probably we were unlucky with the draw.

Next year the OD will be folk dance again. Have you thought already what you would like to skate to? Obviously you wouldn’t take the Scottish dance again.
Yes, certainly. Last year we knew we would do a Scottish dance. It would have been weird if we didn’t. Taking the same theme again wouldn’t be interesting.

After the success of your Scottish dance last year, do you think there will be couples choosing to do the same next year?
We think that the highest appreciation would be if some Russian couple did a Scottish dance. You know, so many different couples are doing Russian dances, like “Kalinka”, so it would be really cool if a Russian couple would do a Scottish dance.

Do you know you are the only one bowing first to the public and then to the judges?
Yes, we know, we always thought it’s right as the judges aren't the only people in the arena, and also the judges look down at their papers while the crowd cheers. This way we want to thank the fans for their support. Also, usually all the programs are oriented only to one side, and there are people other than judges too, so we think all the programs should try to be 360 degrees-oriented.

When I thought about questions for you I remembered Sting’s song “Englishman in New York”. So, do you have the same feeling – Scots in the US?
Well, US is a country with so many different people coming from everywhere.
Actually people are very nice there and always excited to hear our accent. And it's fun, because at home nobody is excited about it, you know, because at home we don't have an accent.

BTW, about your Scottish accent, do you speak Gaelic?
Not too much, we know a little. It’s not like in Wales where Welsh is compulsory in schools. In Scotland out of 5 million people around 1% can speak Gaelic.
In the US, when they hear our accent they say “Wow, you’re Scottish!” and want to know all about us, our story.

And then you tell them you are figure skaters and they ask “What is that?”
Well, yes, people usually will only know Hamilton, Kerrigan, Harding and that’s it. They don’t even know Platov, and he is a double Olympic Champion.

But you were doing shows on your skating rink. Don’t people recognize you?
Mostly people from the figure skating world would. At home people usually recognize us, but not in the US. But it’s the same if a famous baseball player was walking in the street in Scotland - nobody would know him, ‘cause people only know baseball in the US and Japan.
But this is sometimes embarrassing that we’re getting less support at home then abroad.
For example, when we did an “Art on Ice” show, in Switzerland we got a lot of support and cheer, we got a lot of support and cheer, and in Sheffield it was like “ok, the Kerrs”.

Are you doing “Art on Ice” this year?
No. But maybe we will do the show in Davos.

“American Dream”, right? We know that in such detail because almost all of us here are also big fans of Stéphane Lambiel.
We are too.

What do you think about his retirement?
It was a surprise for us, but actually we talked to him a lot lately and he said that he has lost the motivation to fight. Sometimes it’s a wise thing to do: to retire in time, when you’re still at the peak. This is the same for Jeffrey (Buttle) for example. Maybe it’s not exactly Stéphane’s case though, as he had an injury. And when you have an injury it always takes something from you, some part of you. He will be missed at competitions, but we hope to meet him at shows. He’ll be ok, he’s a real star. And maybe he was restricted by the rules, like we are, and in shows he will be able to create whatever he likes. And, perhaps, he’ll even return - that does happen. People usually retire when they think they don’t have anything new to contribute. But if you still do and can, then why not continue?

So maybe you will consider staying after Vancouver?
Well, we’ll be in Turin for sure, and then we’ll see.

Is the new system hard for you?
It’s definitely harder for us than for the younger couples. But it’s the same for everyone. Look at the men – it’s much harder, for example, for Brian, Evan and even Johnny to adjust to the new rules. Well, maybe a bit easier for Johnny. And look at all the new guys, like Chan and Kozuka - they grew up with the new system, and they are doing really well. We sometimes have to bend ourselves - new requirements do not come naturally to us. But that’s what we have to do.

At home, everybody compares you to Torvill and Dean?
Yes, at home there is no article about us not mentioning Torvill and Dean. It’s always:
“Are you the next Torvill and Dean?”
We worked last year with Christopher Dean, he is a wonderful choreographer, and he was a creative producer of “Stars on ice”. He is also very famous now because he created and hosted the British “Dancing on Ice” show. But we’re completely different from Torvill and Dean, and the things changed so much since their time, we don’t think it would be easy for them, if they were to skate now.

There is a TV show in Russia too, “Skating with stars”?
Yeah, we saw it on two channels. Evgeny took part in one of them, so we saw the show’s first season.

BTW, how did you like visiting Russia?
We went with Evgeny to Novogorsk and the town was pretty ordinary, boring, actually, but that would be the same in any small town. Also, they were doing some construction work in the hotel, and every morning we woke up from the noise. *Imitating the construction sounds* But we had some time to visit Moscow and see usual tourist attractions, like Red Square, etc.
We will come back to Russia some time, maybe to the CoR next year, though we don’t have any planned shows there in the near future.

Have you been to Israel?
No, but we would love to come once. The Zaretskys told us a lot about it - that it’s a very beautiful country.

You are always very positive and full of good energy. How do you do that?
I think the important thing is to love and enjoy what you do. We’re very grateful for the opportunity to be in competitions and perform in front of crowds. Maybe this is because we didn’t have much success when we were younger, we weren’t very good juniors. So now we appreciate that very much. Not many people get these opportunities – to come and compete at major competitions. When you come to success at a later age, you appreciate it more.

How can we give you more feedback and support?
Just come to competitions, bring flags and cheer.






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