Cappellini, Lanotte training with Shpilband in Novi

Italian champions hoping to benefit from famed dance coach's technical expertise

Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are looking to Igor Shpilband to take them to the next level.
Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are looking to Igor Shpilband to take them to the next level. (Getty Images)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(07/16/2012) - Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, the reigning Italian ice dancing champions who finished a career-best sixth at the world championships last season, have begun working with Igor Shpilband in Novi, Mich.

Shpilband, who split with coaching partner Marina Zoueva in early June, also coaches U.S. dancers Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Lithuanians Isabella Tobias and Deividas Stagiunas.

"Our original decision, when we talked to Marina and Igor at worlds, was to go to Canton and train with the whole crew," Cappellini said via Skype. "It came kind of sudden, the news of their breakup -- it was really unexpected for us. With the separation [from Zoueva], we thought that Igor was the person that could help us the most."

The couple confirmed that Paola Mezzadri is still their primary coach, in Milan.

"She's a very artistic coach," Cappellini said. "What we really needed to improve were our elements, our skating, our training methods -- it was a natural idea to go to Igor."

Cappellini and Lanotte are coming off a resurgent season, one in which they claimed bronze at both of their Grand Prix assignments (Skate Canada, Trophée Eric Bompard), won their first national title and placed fourth at the 2012 European Championships, finishing just 0.03 points out of third.

The team has been moving around a bit for the last few years, training with Muriel Boucher-Zazoui and Romain Hagenauer, and then with Nikoli Morozov.

"In the last two or three years, we've started more than one cooperation [with coaches] that didn't pan out as well as we've hoped," Cappellini said. "Our base is in Milan, but we're planning to come [to Michigan] often during the season, before the Grand Prix, for sure, before worlds, for sure. Some parts of the training will be done here and some in Italy."

Cappellini and Lanotte plan to skate to music from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for the short dance and Carmen for the free dance.

Capellini said about the short dance: "We wanted to do something that wasn't classical, but something with a story that we could relate to. The polka is very lively and very funny. We connected right away with that music. You have to get ready for a whole year of jumping, smiling, jumping, smiling.

"For the free dance, we're doing the ballet from the Carmen suite. It will be our personal take on the story of Carmen," Cappellini continued. "Carmen has been done in the past for sure, but we feel like we have a deep connection to these characters. We want to do something original and do our own interpretation."

The duo has been in Michigan for about a month.

"We're having a really great summer here," Cappellini said. "Our training has changed so much that we've felt really unsettled, but we're having a great experience working with Igor. He's just about the best you can find in the world.

"The whole reorganization has worked really well; when we got here, it was already working."

Both skaters spoke with enthusiasm about working with 1992 Olympic champion Marina Klimova, who spent a few weeks at Shpilband's new digs.

"She was talking to me about how to be beautiful and long," Cappellini said. "That was really a privilege."

"We were really lucky to have the opportunity to work with a great champion like Marina," Lanotte added. "It's not just a group of amazing coaches, but they're also amazing people."