Ice Network

Bourzat fully immersed in coaching career, lifestyle

Former two-time world bronze ice dance medalist doesn't miss competing
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Fabian Bourzat (right) posed for a photo with students Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko (center), as well as coaching partner Igor Shpilband (left). -Benjamin Miller Reisman

"We don't have summer here in Michigan," former French ice dancer Fabian Bourzat says, even though the wall calendar reads June.

Indeed, for coaches at one of the major ice dance centers of America and the world, there is no such thing as a typical summer filled with travel and vacation. A two-time world bronze ice dance medalist with former partner Nathalie Péchalat, Bourzat, 35, works with Igor Shpilband's group in Novi, Michigan, and fully embraces his busy coaching schedule and lifestyle.

Bourzat, who retired from competitive skating in the spring of 2014, spoke with icenetwork about the talented students he works with in Novi, collaborating with Igor Shpilband and his thoughts on the state of ice dance today.

Icenetwork: It's been over two years since you retired from competitive skating. How does it feel?

Bourzat: I feel great about my new job. That's the only thing I can think right now.

Icenetwork: Is it easier or more difficult to be a coach compared to a skater?

Bourzat:  It's a whole other thing completely. It also depends on the days. Sometimes you feel you deliver useful lessons, and sometimes you don't.

Icenetwork: After retiring from skating, your former partner Nathalie Péchalat competed in French version of TV shows Dancing with Stars (Danse avec les stars) and now works as a commentator for Eurosport. Is there a reason why you opted to take a less visible and vibrant pace of life after your competitive career?

Bourzat: I already got enough of the "vibrant path," so being where I am right now is exactly what I was looking for.

Icenetwork: What do you miss most about competitive ice dancing?

Bourzat: I don't really miss anything. I have great memories, but I've moved on.

Icenetwork: Tell us about working with Igor Shpilband.

Bourzat: Working with Igor is a great opportunity for me. I can learn and teach at the same time. I'm still a work in progress as a coach, so I'm in the best place to grow.

Icenetwork: You both work with many high-level athletes. Which of your students impressed you the most last season and why?

Bourzat: It's hard to pick up one, really. You just see them from competition to competition, but we see improvements in everyone in so many different ways throughout the whole season.

Icenetwork: The United Kingdom's Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland joined you in Novi, Michigan, less than a year ago, and the duo's performance quality noticeably increased in that time. What do you think about their progress?

Bourzat: It was a great year for them, and I was really pleased to be a part of it. They received over 100 points in their free dance this year which shows that they really improved.

Icenetwork: Is there anything different about the coaching workload during this summer?

Bourzat: We don't really have a [special] summer period here in Michigan. Our work is the same all year long.

Icenetwork: Earlier this month, the International Skating Union (ISU) decided to abolish anonymous judging. What do you think about this decision?

Bourzat: I don't think that decision is going to make any difference. I am more interested in our student's progress.

Icenetwork: Are there other rules in ice dance that you wish would change?

Bourzat: I want to see what the future of figure skating will bring us. The ISU is trying to remodel it and we're experiencing it. We will try to refine the skating every year as rules evolve.

Icenetwork: Do you have any aspirations to be president of the French Federation of Ice Sports one day?

Bourzat: I just switched from skater to coach, so right now, I'm just thinking about being a coach. I have no idea what I'll do in 10 years.