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The Inside Edge: Koleto ventures down new path

Former singles skater teams with Yura Min, hopes to represent Korea in ice dance; Vise, Baldwin retire

Newly formed dance team Yura Min and Timothy Koleto in Michigan.
Newly formed dance team Yura Min and Timothy Koleto in Michigan. (courtesy of Tim Koleto)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(04/04/2013) - It looks like the Republic of Korea may soon have a new dance team: Yura Min and Tim Koleto.

Min and Koleto started training with Igor Shpilband in Novi, Mich., this week. They hope to compete at the Korean championships in November if all goes well. Korea hasn't had a senior dance team since 2006.

Min, who has dual U.S. and Korean citizenship, has been searching for a dance partner for a couple of years. Her parents are from Korea; her older sister was born there, although Min herself was born in the U.S. Prior to moving to Michigan last year to pursue dance, she trained in Lake Arrowhead, Calif., with Rafael Arutunian.

"The Korean federation said if I found a partner, I could compete for Korea," she told us in a Skype video chat.

Koleto, who has been competing in singles with Tom Zakrajsek and Becky Calvin, finished sixth as a junior at the 2012 U.S. Championships. He said he had tested up to pre-bronze in dance previously, although he has never competed as a dancer.

Min and Koleto met a year and a half ago when she visited Colorado Springs looking for a partner. Koleto is a passionate fan of Korean culture, and the two joked that if he ever decided to stop competing in singles, they could team up and represent Korea. The idea turned into a serious plan about a month ago.

Koleto has been struggling with injuries the past two years.

"I felt like my body was sort of sending me the message that it was unable to keep up with the level of jumping necessary in senior," he said. "It was very sad for me at first. I feel lucky that I have another opportunity.

"I feel so honored to have been able to work with my coaching team in Colorado. They have been so supportive and taught me so much over the last three years."

"Tim is a natural artistic skater and has been blessed with an almost innate ability to dance off the ice," Zakrajsek emailed us. "He has great body awareness, long lines and knows how to create beautiful shapes to his movements. I think this makes him an ideal candidate for a dance partnership.

"While I am sad to see Tim leave, I am hoping this new opportunity for Tim's career will help him realize his goal of skating in the Olympics some day."

Koleto has been studying Korean for two years, and he visited the country for the first time recently after he won a free trip online. He is crazy about Korean pop music.

"I'm wearing Korean socks right now!" he said, showing them off. "I started listening to Korean music about 4 1/2 or five years ago. Korean music and fashion are connected very deeply."

Along with Shpilband, the two will also work with Adrienne Lenda, Alexei Gorshkov, Marina Klimova and Greg Zuerlein. For now, they are working on basic skating and learning lifts.

"We're both very strong artistic skaters," Min said. "We're thinking about music to skate to."

"I'm really excited to portray two different sides of a story rather than having to do it all myself," Koleto added.

For now, the team's goal is to compete at the 2015 Four Continents Championships in Seoul. And, of course, they hope to make it to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang.

"It would be cool to be well-prepared for Four Continents in Seoul," Koleto said. "We would like to be ready to show ourselves internationally there."

Vise and Baldwin retire

Tiffany Vise and Don Baldwin have decided to retire from competitive skating after skating together for four years. Vise said that injuries have been hampering the team and affecting its performances for the past couple of years.

"After 23 years of skating, 15 years competing singles and 18 years competing in pairs, I have decided to retire from the competitive side of the sport," she said. "It's going feel odd not competing anymore because I love competing and I have been doing it for such a long time, but there comes a time where you want to start a new chapter in your life."

Vise said that both she and Baldwin want to stay involved with the sport. They plan to keep skating together and performing in shows, and they will coach as a team at the Ice Den in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Both skaters said they are grateful to their families for their support; Baldwin comes from a family of skaters, following in the footsteps of his champion father and brother John, and Vise's sister, Brittany, was also a pairs skater.

Baldwin competed for nearly three decades and medaled at the U.S championships three times, in intermediate pairs, novice men's and junior men's; he was the 1999 junior men's silver medalist.

Vise mentioned that she is the last competitive skater who started skating at the old rink at the Broadmoor Hotel before it was demolished. She will go down in history as the first pairs skater to land a throw quadruple Salchow in competition, with her previous partner, Derek Trent, at the 2007 Trophée Eric Bompard.

"I want to thank U.S. Figure Skating for having me as part of Team USA and for all their support over the years," Baldwin wrote. "I want to thank all of my coaches for teaching me everything that allowed me to be a national and international competitor in singles, pairs and dance."

Both skaters thanked the many coaches they worked with over their long careers: Scott Wendland, Phillip Mills, Peter Oppegard, Andrei Bushkov, Jill Watson, Larisa Gendernalik, Becky Calvin, Zakrajsek, Dalilah Sappenfield, Irina Vorobieva, and Doug and Lara Ladret. They also thanked the Los Angeles Figure Skating Club, the Broadmoor Skating Club, Coyotes Skating Club and the Ice Den.

"I would especially like to thank my family and parents for coaching me from the beginning and throughout my career, and pushing me to be the best skater I could be," Baldwin added.

Little baby Hay

2008 Canadian pairs champions Anabelle Langlois-Hay and Cody Hay let us know they had a baby girl March 28. Mia Olivia Hay was 5 pounds, 8 ounces at birth.

"We are recovering from an emergency C-section and are both doing well," Anabelle wrote. "Mom and dad are ecstatic to finally hold her in our arms; we couldn't be happier."

Congratulations!
Sarah and Drew
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