Ice Network

Cappellini, Lanotte hope to return to world title form

Russian duo Sinitsina, Katsalapov moving on from bumpy debut season
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Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte will use lighthearted music selections for their programs in 2015-16, returning to a style that has worked well for the team in the past. -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

Marina Zoueva's coaching staff is hard at work at the Arctic Edge in Canton, Michigan, preparing U.S. and international ice dance teams for the upcoming season.

Italians Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who won the 2014 world title before slipping to fourth in the world last season, are in Canton for two weeks to put the finishing touches on their competitive routines.

"We did the programs with our main coach, Paola Mezzadri, and with choreographer Ludmilla Vlasova at home in Milan, but we came here to get them polished with Marina," Cappellini said. "We are also working on the Ravensburger Waltz, which is required in the short dance this season, with Maurizio [Margaglio]."

In addition to winning the 2002 Olympic bronze medal for Italy with partner Barbara Fusar-Poli, Margaglio won the Ravensburger Waltz compulsory at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. He is also a technical specialist and member of the International Skating Union (ISU) Ice Dance Committee, so he is uniquely qualified to instruct teams on the Ravensburger's key elements.

"We have experienced, several times, how close the difference between winning and losing can be, and we do not want to lose any level or key point," Lanotte said. "We became world champions with a difference of two-hundredths of a point over the second-place team (Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje) because, for the first time, we had a Level 4 on all of our step sequences.

"On the other hand, at Europeans in Sheffield in 2012, we were fourth, with a difference of three-hundredths of a point to the bronze medal, because one level was missing," Lanotte added.  

In Italy, the couple also works with technical specialist Roberto Pelizzola, who has known both skaters since they were young novices.

"He is very picky and cares about each inch of our feet and our body positions," Lanotte said. "We know that one inch may make the difference between two levels, so we listen to him very carefully, more than we did as children."

The Italians are quick to admit the 2014-15 season was not their best.

"After the Olympic season, we had started working on our programs quite late, and since October, I had pain at the hernia (groin)," Lanotte said. "Therefore, our programs were not 100 percent ready."

Lanotte underwent surgery in April, and the team was off the ice for a few weeks. Now, though, the skater feels fit.

"I do not feel any pain, and we are optimistic for the season," he said.

The Italians discovered that dark and dramatic music, like last season's free dance to Danse Macabre, does not suit them best. Therefore, they have returned to a more lighthearted style of music that has proved successful for them in past seasons.

The short dance is set to waltz and polka selections from the operetta The Merry Widow by Franz Lehár.

"During Europeans, I found this music on the Internet in the hotel, because I had time to look for waltzes for this season," Lanotte said. "I thought right away, 'That's the music we will take; it suits us well.'"

Their free dance music is a medley of Federico Fellini movie soundtracks by Nino Rota, including The Nights of Cabiria, Amarcord and 8½.

"We took the soul from each movie, and we are (playing the parts of) happy citizens of Italy who like to take profit from the elegant touch which Italy had after the Second World War," Cappellini said. "We interpret La Dolce Vita, even if we don't take any music from that movie."  

Their first competition will likely be the Lombardia Trophy, Sept. 17-20 in Italy.

"Our federation just added an ice dance competition to this B-level event," Lanotte said. "I hope a few other good couples are coming; otherwise, we will go elsewhere. Our Grand Prix are in China and France, and we hope to qualify for the Final."

In June, Cappellini married Italian pairs skater Ondřej Hotárek.

"The days before my wedding, I was more nervous than before any competition," she said. "But, life has not changed for me since, because we had lived together before. In private life, I changed my name, but in the skating world, I am still Anna Cappellini."

"This is good because, otherwise, everybody would write about a new couple -- Hotárek and Lanotte," Lanotte joked. "But I do not want to change partners in my career any more, which will end in 2018 anyway."

Sinitsina, Katsalapov put 2014-15 in rearview

Russians Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov train with Zoueva year round and are coming off of a disappointing first season together. Katsalapov, the 2014 Olympic bronze medalist with Elena Ilinykh, and his new partner did not medal at either of their Grand Prix events, and did not qualify for the European or world championships after finishing fourth at Russian nationals.

"Certainly, we were disappointed at first, but now we think positively and see it as a learning process," Katsalapov said. "A couple has to perform as one, and we were not there yet. We have more time now to grow as a team."

The start to the duo's training for the 2015-16 season was a bit delayed.

"In January, after nationals, I had a stress fracture and we could not do much until the end of April," Katsalapov said. "Victoria had to train alone, and I finished my education as a sports teacher in Russia. Now, we are fine."

The Russians' short dance is set to a waltz, polka and march from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Their free dance is choreographed to music from Andrea Bocelli, but they prefer to keep the specific music private for now.

Sinitsina and Katsalapov will compete at the Russian version of Champs Camp in early September, and they would like to compete at a senior B competition before their first Grand Prix assignment, at Skate America. They hope to earn Russia's open spot at the Rostelecom Cup.  

Rule changes: Margaglio, who works as a consultant in Canton for part of the summer, explained the main ice dance rule changes for this season.

"A difficult exit from the lift, and not only a difficult entry, is a level feature for the first time," Margaglio said. "The second passage of the Ravensburger must be interrupted by a stop, and be continued with different music. For the choreographic element, the dancers now have the choice between a short lift, a small spin and a short twizzle. This improves the creativity in the free dance."