Always sticking to their guns

Part II

by Susanne Kempf
photos © Susanne Kempf

Did the fact that you started skating together change anything in your relationship?

Sinead: Yeah, I guess. We have always had a close relationship but I am glad that we didn’t already skate together when we were younger because we would have fought a lot (laughs).
But we both have the same goals now, the same aims and mentality - that’s why it works so well between us.

As a brother and sister team, do you feel or think that you can’t really skate to romantic music or is that something you would do?

John: Absolutely. I mean, it is all an act. It’s the same for an actor who gets paid for a love scene with a person who he might not even like. It is his job! That’s the way we see it.

Sinead: I agree. When we are on the ice, we don’t think about each other as brother and sister but simply as skating partners! We just happened to not have chosen to skate to romantic music so far but we definitely won’t exclude that for the future.

John: We did an exhibition gala to the Enya piece from the "Gladiator soundtrack" in London on New Year’s Eve. Because of the Tsumani catastrophe the organisers wanted us to skate to something meaningful and it was a very emotional thing. A lot of people said it was really good and it was a different thing for us definitely. I think you can be surprised yourself about the different styles of skating you are actually able to do.

Sinead: We want to do something different every year – this year’s Free Dance is very different from "The Matrix" for example.

Many people thought that the music choice is rather similar...

John: We think that’s just not true. I mean, "The Matrix" is a very contemporary, dance-track kind of thing whereas Justin Timberlake is more jazzy and this far (points out a big difference with his arms) apart from last year. Why skate to something we are not really interested in, like ballet music? You have to stay true to yourself. When we picked "Matrix" last year, a lot of people didn’t like it, not even our coach.

Sinead: As long as you stick to your guns, you are never gonna be unhappy.


What is the difference in the way of coaching between Joan Slater and Roberto Pelizzola?

Sinead: They are very similar in the way they teach but it is good to have another point of view. Roberto for example picks on me more and Joan picks on John more.
Sometimes it could become a little bit too enclosed if it was just Joan and us I suppose.

John: Joan very much trusts Roberto because she also works with Massimo and Federica. She was their coach at Worlds. So there has always been a close connection. I know Joan is held in very high esteem in Italy – she is regarded the mother of Italian skating because all the coaches from now - she taught them. She found Maurizio Margaglio when he was ten years old.
Joan and Roberto are very organized in everything they are doing.

So who takes care of which departments of your skating? Who does create your programs?

John: With Roberto we work on the compulsories and more on the technical side. Actually we have worked so hard on the compulsories that we didn’t have the time to work as much on our free dance as we had wanted to.
Basically, we do all our own stuff and choreography ourselves and Joan is making comments. "The Matrix", that was us. Maybe in some ways it is "wrong" that we do it all by ourselves - but then again we wouldn’t have been able to create "The Matrix" for example! Unless you got stuck in an ice rink, with no one to help you and you come up with something... Maybe if we had had somebody with us, "The Matrix" wouldn’t have happened. It is weird if you try and analyze it sometimes.

Sinead: For next year we think about getting somebody to help us with the choreography though. We would like to try working with somebody who could bring in something new.

John: Yeah, also, when you create a new routine yourself, the process is much longer. When people go to a choreographer, he or she is able to make you a program in a month. Whereas when you do it yourself, it evolves much slower.

Sinead: You also think: „Is this hard enough, is this right... You got nobody to tell you. Generally we like that though.

So do you already have some rough ideas for next year’s programs?

Sinead: Yeah, we got some ideas for bits and musics. We got some good stuff. I mean, next year is the Olympics and you wanna try really hard to make a good choice. And we will still come up with something special. What I would like to happen is this: I mean, of course you wanna medal at some point. That’s important. But what is even more important for us is to be remembered for coming up with different stuff, with a special style. Like the Duchesnays or Denkova&Staviski.

Will you skate until 2010?

Sinead: Yeah, we think so. If nothing happens beyond our control of course, like injuries. We want to skate as long as we entertain the audience. But when the audience is sick of you, it is time to stop so who knows when that will happen... (laughs)

And after you retire, what do you plan on doing? Coaching?

Sinead: I never look too far into the future, I always try to keep it where I am at the moment. We think from year to year.

Thank you so much for taking all this time to talk to us. Best wishes for Moscow!

Go back to Part II


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