Ice Network

Séguin, Bilodeau progress thanks to chemistry

Canadian pair's transition to senior ranks eased by solid skating skills
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Canadian pairs team Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau came into their own this season, taking the Junior Grand Prix Final title and the world junior silver medal. -Getty Images

Canadian pairs skaters Julianne Séguin and Charlie Bilodeau teamed up in 2012, but it was not until this season that they began to attract the attention of the international skating community. This could be due to the fact that Séguin also competed as a singles skater and was unable to decide which discipline she preferred.

Her decision to focus on pairs appears to be the right one. This season, the Quebec-based team took the gold at both of its Junior Grand Prix (JGP) events and went on to become the first Canadian pair to win the JGP Final in 11 years.

After taking the bronze at the Canadian championships, Séguin and Bilodeau were named to both the world and world junior teams. They earned the silver at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Tallinn, Estonia, and finished eighth in their debut at the World Figure Skating Championships in March. At the latter, the Quebecers impressed audience with their strong technique and their deep understanding of the artistic part of skating.

Icenetwork talked with the young Canadians about their successful season, their work with famous specialists and the importance of being original in modern pairs skating.

Icenetwork: You were very successful in just your second competive season. How were you able to do this?

Séguin and Bilodeau: We have a wonderful team that takes care of us. We worked hard to reach every goal that we set at the beginning of the year, and we accomplished our mission. We are proud.

Icenetwork: How were you able to make so much progress in such a short amount of time?

Séguin and Bilodeau: We have a good chemistry. That's helped us to focus on the artistry and to improve the quality of our elements and transitions. [This season] was a big step for us.

Icenetwork: You became the first Canadian pair to win the JGP Final since Jessica Dubé and Bryce Davison did it 11 years ago. How were you able to accomplish this feat?

Séguin and Bilodeau: We have high expectations for ourselves, and our performances lived up to those expectations. We had faith in ourselves all year, and that served us well. Finishing first at our two Junior Grand Prix made us realize that we were capable of winning the JGP Final and going to worlds.

Icenetwork: Did you expect to win the gold in Barcelona, Spain?

Séguin and Bilodeau: Our main goal, from a technical standpoint, was to do the same thing we do at home. We were obviously aiming to finish on top. We wanted to let the world know that we could not only compete with anybody but beat them!

Icenetwork: You impressed and surprised a lot of people at the 2015 World Championships in Shanghai, performing two very strong, clean and beautiful programs. What difficulties did you encounter during your transition to the senior level?

Séguin and Bilodeau: We had to change the jump in our short program (double lutz for a triple salchow), and for the long we had to add a lift. We had to do all this in a short period, but our coach, Josée Picard, trained us like seniors every day. That was helpful, and that's what made the difference.

Icenetwork: Despite your young ages, you have already distinguished yourselves with your style and originality in your music selections. How important is it to you to be original?

Séguin and Bilodeau: Our coaches gave us music to listen to, and then we chose the one that 'joined' us the most. For the short program (music from the soundtrack of 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'), we decided to use no lyrics, to keep it light and make it easier for us to portray the characters. But for the long ("In Your Eyes" and "Wallflower" by Peter Gabriel), we wanted to try lyrics, to have the chance to really tell a story and connect with each other, and it was a success. It helped that we worked with dancers to help us to transmit what we wanted to the judges.

Icenetwork: What is your approach to combining artistry with the high technical demands of modern pairs skating?

Séguin and Bilodeau: In our first year, we focused on the technical elements in order to have a good base, and this year we dedicated ourselves to developing artistry, 'feeling' each other and giving emotion. Having the chance to work with ice dance coaches like Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Shae-Lynn Bourne, we were able to add difficult transitions, and still display power in our skating. The fact that we worked hard last year on the basics allowed us to have a good balance this year between artistry and technical elements.

These dance specialists gave us so much in our skating skills. We worked with them every week to keep improving our transitions. We are able to build speed and keep our energy until the end (of our performances). Also, they taught us how to demonstrate better body language, and how to transmit emotion to the crowd.

Icenetwork: Canadian pairs tend to have a natural ease and sincerity to their skating. There is also the stereotype that Canadian people are more down to earth. What are your views on this?

Séguin and Bilodeau: In a world in which technical elements seem to be the top priority for most countries, Canada always seems to want to innovate, and take skating to the next level technically and artistically to separate themselves from the rest of the pack. We think that's why Canadian pairs always create their own comfortable style and end up showing their true personality through their skating.

Icenetwork: Do you have any ideas for your new programs? Are there any images or themes that you would like to portray on the ice?

Séguin and Bilodeau: We do not have anything finalized yet, but we will try to have a long program that still helps us connect and interact with each other. As for our short program, we like to keep it light and will probably portray characters again.

Icenetwork: Tell us about your goals for next season.

Séguin and Bilodeau: We want to reach the (senior) Grand Prix Final and worlds. And we also want to improve our skating skills and quality of our elements, like we did this season.