Salt Shakers: Chan, Aaron become rink friends

Bradley coaches; Lacoste just misses goal; Lawrence, Swiegers channel new characters

U.S. International Classic champion Max Aaron wanted LED lights for his <i>Tron</i> costume.
U.S. International Classic champion Max Aaron wanted LED lights for his Tron costume. (Jay Adeff)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(09/24/2012) - The 2012 U.S. Figure Skating International Classic in Salt Lake City, the first-ever senior B international held in North America, saw Ryan Bradley play a new role: coach.

The 2011 U.S. champion, fresh off a tour of duty performing on Royal Caribbean's Liberty of the Seas, was behind the boards for senior man Jono Partridge, who placed fifth in Great Britain last season.

Partridge -- who trains in London under Stewart Feinstein and also works with Kathy Casey in Colorado Springs four or five months of the year -- is Bradley's part-time Colorado roommate. Bradley's girlfriend, fellow skater and cruise-ship performer Erin Reed, lives in Ogden, Utah, and Bradley skates at the Salt Lake City Sports Complex quite a bit.

"It's a coincidence; I just happened to be in town," Bradley said. "Jono lives with me in Colorado and he needed some help, putting him on the ice and getting him organized. It's kind of a last-minute thing; I was going to come up and watch the event anyway."

Since disembarking from Liberty of the Seas a month ago, Bradley has kept busy, performing in Ice Champions Live -- the show benefiting the Michael Weiss Foundation -- earlier this month and preparing for Harvard University's Evening with Champions the final weekend in September. He will also take part in the Ice Theatre of New York's 2012 Benefit Gala and Performance Honoring Richard Dwyer on Oct. 22.

"I'm starting to get choreography for new programs rolling, get things ready for this coming show season," he said. "As a professional skater, it's important to keep things fresh, try to go in different directions and explore new options, different characters.

"I'm getting ready to go out to L.A. to work with Sarah Kawahara, who worked with me on my act for the ship, and now we're doing some more of a standard show program. I'm also going to work with Jeff Buttle, which is awesome."

Bradley is still filling his schedule, with plans to perform in a Disson Skating show (Pandora Unforgettable Holiday Moments on Ice, live on Nov. 10). He also hopes to do a second season with Stars on Ice; last season, he was part of the 10-city U.S. Stars tour.

"Fingers crossed on that," he said. "I love to skate and if I can skate somewhere and there's an opportunity, that's great."

Aaron is a big Chan fan

SLC was a breakthrough win for Max Aaron, who landed a quad Salchow and eight triples -- including two triple Axels -- in his winning free skate, choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo to West Side Story.

Aaron, eighth at the 2012 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, also won the short in SLC, skating to music from Tron: Legacy, outfitted in a black unitard with striking geometric lines of his own design.

"I went back and forth on it with [costumer] Kay Evans," Aaron said. "I was trying to go with LED lights on [the lines] and the gloves, but my mom said no. She didn't see the sketches until she came back from a trip, and she didn't like that idea, but I thought it would be pretty cool to have the whole thing light up during the step sequence or something."

Aaron, who trains in Colorado Springs under Tom Zakrajsek, has been working with two-time world champion Patrick Chan and Chan's coach, modern dance expert Kathy Johnson, on his balance and movement.

"I'm very excited [Patrick] let me work in his camp because he's really strict on who goes in and who goes out," Aaron said. "He is a great supporter, and I've learned a lot from him. There is a great bond going between us. I'm also fairly close with his coach, and it's a lot of fun to work with him on the ice and off the ice.

According to Aaron, Chan's talents extend well beyond skating.

"He's a great modern dancer. I've seen a performance that he showed and I think he can move like no one's business. He makes it look so easy, and it translates and correlates to what he does on the ice. It's amazing to watch him and learn from the best."

Undeterred Lacoste falls 0.01 points short

Canadian champion Amélie Lacoste had two goals in mind for SLC: gain eligibility to compete at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships by hitting the new ISU minimum required TES for the short program, 28 points, and the free skate, 48 points.

She achieved the first but not the second, earning a TES of 47.99 in her bronze-medal performance. Still, her programs were an uptick from last season, when -- despite winning the Canadian title -- she struggled to land her triple Lutz at the 2012 Four Continents Championships and 2012 World Championships.

"During the summer, we worked on staying calm on the ice," she said. "Now, I try not to overreact when I miss a jump because I get very sensitive, I get angry at myself. Every time I miss a jump or do a step out in practice, I try to stay calm so it doesn't affect me, and the same thing in competition.

"I just want to enjoy the rest of my career. I am 23 years old, and I think I will be skating for a couple of years and then I will be done."

"She works hard, she gives 100 percent and more," said Nathalie Martin, one of Lacoste's coaches in Montreal. "I just want her to stay focused and calm because she's really, really capable."

Lacoste competes next at Skate Canada in Windsor, Ontario, where she will again try to hit the free skate TES mark.

Lawrence, Swiegers quit horsing around

Paige Lawrence and Rudi Swiegers are skating their free to music from Steven Spielberg's 2011 film War Horse, but the Canadian pairs bronze medalists aren't enacting the movie's plot about a horse conscripted to serve in World War I.

"That's what we originally started with this season, but we switched and [now] we just tell the story of a boy (Swiegers) going off to war, leaving his love (Lawrence) back home," Lawrence said. "I used to be a horse, but I'm a girl now. We changed the theme of the program. It's just his memories that help him through the war, the feelings that people go through."

"At the beginning of the program, she is really kind of swooning over me and I'm not focusing on her. I'm kind of looking over her, and then I progress into war and use the memory of her to kind of get me through the tough time," Swiegers said.

As originally conceived by four-time world ice dance champion Bernie Ford, who choreographed the program, Lawrence played the role of Joey, the equine hero, right down to a horse-inspired costume.

"One of the obstacles we faced this summer, I was having a difficult time connecting to the character I was given, and we both felt the program wasn't really progressing," Lawrence said. "Finally, I spoke up and said, 'I just can't do it, guys.' I apologize to Bernie for changing it but I think it's for the best."

"It was tough to portray that horse and rider connection, and then have to lift the horse over my head," Swiegers said.