Pairs Skating is for the Young at Heart

by Ellen Zurfluh
Maxim Marinin helps out clinic participant Kim Sailer.

Pairs Clinic Photos

(7/11/06) - The eighth annual Chicago Adult Pairs Clinic, held June 17-18 at Twin Rinks Ice Pavilion in Buffalo Grove, Ill., proved again that pairs skating is not just for kids.

The 16 participating skaters, whose birth years spanned five decades, were led through basic and advanced techniques of pairs skating by 1984 Olympic pairs champion Oleg Vassiliev. 2006 Olympic pairs champions Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin took a break from the Champions on Ice tour to not only demonstrate maneuvers but also help provide one-on-one instruction. Totmianina came directly from O'Hare Airport on the first day of the clinic after a long flight from St. Petersburg, Russia.

The skaters' skills ranged from the bronze to masters pairs levels, and 11 of the 16 had previously attended one of the Chicago clinics. The clinic has been organized by DuPage FSC members Ellen Zurfluh and Les Ascher since its inception in 1999. The fact that there were so many returning players allowed Vassiliev to cover a great deal of information during the six hours of instruction (two hours off ice, four hours on ice), injecting his own brand of humor along the way.

The off-ice portion included proper warmup, floor exercises for overhead lifts, split twist exercises and death spiral positions. Once on the ice, skaters learned how to accomplish or polish many elements of pairs skating including positions for stroking, various lifts and throws, death spirals and pairs spins.

"Oleg provided incredible insight to the fundamentals of pairs technique," the SC of San Francisco's Rebecca Hurst said. "He gave us about two months' worth of things to work on at home."

Hurst's partner, Will Lay (SC of San Francisco), found it helpful to see the Olympic champions as well as his fellow clinic participants execute maneuvers.

"I'm very visual and often go by instinct when learning," he said. "Watching so many pair teams working on a single element helped me figure out the timing, which was later polished by suggestions on technique."

The one-on-one instruction also included words of encouragement. Jan Seybold (Wisconsin FSC) related that she was nervous about learning a particular move. Marinin, who was helping Seybold and her partner, David Redlin (Kettle Moraine FSC), smiled and said, "Only brave girls do pairs." Seeing Marinin nod his head to encourage her further, Seybold landed her first throw loop jump.

The instructors noted great improvement among the returning skaters.

"It was so exciting to see so many teams put up press and other overhead lifts on the floor," Marinin said.

Larry Scibilia (DuPage FSC) and partner Lauren Yahiro (Individual Member) were particularly pleased when Totmianina praised their death spiral.

"Tatiana recalled that last year I had not been able to get the pivot," Scibilia said. "For her to remember that, after such a busy year leading to the Olympics, is quite remarkable. She'll be a wonderful coach."

Beside receiving world-class instruction, the clinic participants enjoyed the camaraderie and support of other adult pairs skaters.

"Everyone was willing to jump in and help," Kim Sailer (Wheeling FSC) said. "This included spotting for other teams, giving suggestions and cheering everyone on. That was my favorite part."

Seybold, who has skated pairs for only one year, concurred.

"I loved seeing the other adult pairs skaters," she said. "The intensity of focus, perseverance and passion these couples put into learning this aspect of skating is admirable. Pair skating is not just for the very young. It is also for the young at heart. We can do this sport for years to come."





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