Rink Notes: Van der Perren a retiring sort

Belgian returning for revenge this season

Belgium's Kevin van der Perren took silver at 2011 Skate America, his third Grand Prix medal.
Belgium's Kevin van der Perren took silver at 2011 Skate America, his third Grand Prix medal. (Getty Images)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/23/2011) - When it comes to longevity in the sport, few compare to Kevin van der Perren .

The 29-year-old Belgian has competed in 12 consecutive European Championships (2000-11). He has appeared at the world championships 10 times, placing a career-high sixth in 2008, and represented Belgium at three Olympics. His silver medal here at Skate America was his third on the Grand Prix circuit, where his career stretches back to 2003.

Maybe it's understandable, then, that van der Perren often mulls over retirement.

A few years ago, he said he planned to skate through the 2010 Olympics. Last season, he was offered a contract with Holiday on Ice, which he seriously considered.

Now, he says he plans to retire after the 2012 European Figure Skating Championships, to be held in Sheffield, England, in January.

"My ultimate goal is Europeans," van der Perren said. "Last year, I was fourth, and I was the only skater to do two clean programs in both the short and the free, with quads. I felt a bit ... [shrugs]. Anyway, I want revenge."

Van der Perren credits his solid performances here -- including a clean short program and a free skate that featured a quad toe loop and triple-triple-triple combination -- to a coaching change.

"I moved from Yuri Bureiko before [2011] worlds to Silvie De Rijcke," van der Perren said. "Since then, it's been great. She pushes me hard. I'm doing things I don't usually do. Every day, I'm doing run-throughs."

The Belgian underwent hip surgery after the 2008 worlds and said he is skating pain free for the first time in years.

"This was the first summer since 2005 that I've been able to practice 100 percent and not worry about my hip," van der Perren said.

"I had problems for a long time. They didn't even find out what was wrong with my hip until 2008, and then I had the surgery. Until last season, I never did run-throughs. Now, I can skate fully."

"His hip is a lot better," De Rijcke said. "I think the first year after the surgery he was too weak. It took at least two years for him to come back to where he was. Sometimes he still has problems with the sit spins, but otherwise he has full power."

Van der Perren, who married longtime British champion Jenna McCorkell in May 2008, admits he has no definite plans for life after competitive skating.

"I have no idea what I will do afterwards," he said. "Last year, I had a great offer from Holiday on Ice, but I have no idea if they will come back to me or not.

"I've coached a little bit but it's really not my thing. I can tell you I'm not going to coach my wife -- I don't think that would end well."

Third time's the charm with Vise, Baldwin music

Sometimes a delay at the start of a program just adds to skaters' stress. In the pairs free skate here, it worked to Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin's advantage.

It took three times for rinkside officials to cue up the U.S. pair's music, a medley of Legends of the Fall and "Time to Say Goodbye." Cameras trained in on Baldwin's face, which showed some exasperation; as for Vise, she could barely stifle her laughs.

"They took it the right way," the team's coach, Doug Ladret, said. "They played the wrong music once, they played the wrong music again, and then they thought they had the right music, but they waited, and waited, and waited."

"I motioned to them to stand up and go to the ref, and Donnie almost stood up, but then the music started and they laughed it off. It really relaxed them."

Vise and Baldwin ended up having one of their best-ever free skates, landing two different side-by-side triples (toes and Salchows) and a solid throw triple loop to place sixth in the free skate and sixth overall.