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New Motor City duo: Bereswill, Reagan team up

Ice dance, singles powerhouse training center adds pairs

Becky Bereswill and Josh Reagan are hoping they can use their relatively small height difference to their advantage.
Becky Bereswill and Josh Reagan are hoping they can use their relatively small height difference to their advantage. (Jacque Tiegs)

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By Lynn Rutherford, special to icenetwork.com
(04/29/2013) - Think "Detroit Skating Club" (DSC), and U.S. champions Jeremy Abbott and Alissa Czisny come to mind. Ice dancers from around the world flock to the Motor City. And, over the past season or so, DSC has added a growing pairs program to its three-rink facility.

The latest team to join its ranks: Becky Bereswill and Joshua Reagan, who began training under Jason Dungjen, Yuka Sato and Sergey Petrovskiy early this month. The two Texas natives scheduled a tryout after Reagan and Caitlin Yankowskas parted ways in late February, Reagan said.

Reagan and another former partner, Ashley Cain, won the 2011 U.S. junior pairs title. Bereswill, who as a single skater won the 2008 Junior Grand Prix Final, teamed with Trevor Young to place 10th in senior pairs at the 2011 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

"When things ended with Caitlin, I wasn't sure what I was going to do," Reagan, 23, said. "I had a couple of tryouts lined up, and I was just going to do them and go from there. I wasn't set on staying in Detroit by any means. I considered moving back to Dallas."

Brainstorming ideas with then coach Johnny Johns one day, Reagan brought up Bereswill.

"We grew up skating together in Texas," he said. "Not that we've kept in touch that much, but I knew she was a really good skater and she had done pairs. I bounced it off Johnny, and he said it was a good idea, do a tryout.

"Ashley was a taller girl, and we had success together. Becky has the same body frame, so I was thought she could be a really good choice."

The 22-year-old Bereswill, who stands about 5-foot-6 to Reagan's 6 feet, was also inspired by the tryout, which took place in front of several of the skaters' past and present coaches.

"Yuka said we had a natural ease about our skating," she said. "That allowed us to pay more attention to the harder elements, because we really didn't have to worry too much about timing on other things. From that point, there was a lot of communication between the coaches, and it just went from there."

Bereswill and Reagan will train alongside Japan's Narumi Takahashi and Ryuichi Kihara, as well as European bronze medalists Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek of Italy, who spend much of their time at DSC. Dungjen and Petrovskiy also coach two teams who hope to compete on the Junior Grand Prix this fall -- Kaitlin Budd and Nikita Cheban, the 2013 U.S. novice silver medalists; and Aya Takai and Brian Johnson, fourth in U.S. novice in 2013 -- as well as the new pairing of Sumire Suto and Konstantin (Stan) Chizhikov.

"We were open about training and coaching, and after considering all of our different options, we decided Detroit was the best and most supportive place to be," said Bereswill, who trains under Dungjen and Sato for singles. "There are so many great athletes here, and it's such a great training atmosphere. We're very happy."

Dungjen, a two-time U.S. pairs champion with Kyoko Ina (1997-98), is encouraged by his newest team's progress.

"They have a good look together; when you have two taller people on the ice, the line is striking," he said. "The side-by-side jumping is there. She has landed throw triple loop; it's not consistent yet. They've started work on the twist -- they're doing a double right now -- and they're working on lifts, all of the basics."

Both Reagan and Dungjen think the skaters' comparative heights could turn out to be an advantage.

"People have always asked me, 'What's it like skating with a taller girl?'" Reagan said. "Honestly, I prefer it. Maybe it's my body type, maybe it's my timing."

Dungjen points to Olympic champions Xue Shen and Hongbo Zhao as role models.

"Everybody says you need a huge size differential, but looking back, Shen and Zhao didn't have a big difference," he said. "Obviously, you have to have size and weight within the realm of what you can handle, and Becky is very tiny (light). So far, because they're a little closer in height, spinning -- both solo and pair -- is a bit easier."

Reagan and Yankowskas, the latter of whom won the 2011 U.S. pairs title with John Coughlin, trained under Johns and Marina Zoueva in nearby Canton. Their single appearance was at 2012 Skate Detroit, where they skated a short program. Injuries to Reagan's ribs derailed plans to compete on last fall's Grand Prix circuit.

"Caitlin and I skated together for a year, and certain things worked, certain things didn't," Reagan said. "Johnny kind of sat us down and said he didn't think we were the right match for each other, and that was kind of it. It wasn't a particular element, it was more overall training; we just weren't right for each other."

Icenetwork.com contacted Yankowskas, who said she was not ready to discuss her competitive future.

The team plans to attend the 2013 National Pairs Camp in Fort Wayne, Ind., June 7-9, and hopes to compete at Skate Detroit in July. They're still settling on music choices, but Dungjen said Zoueva may choreograph their short program.

"We're focused on building a solid base, doing a lot of stroking, getting our unison down and building a solid base for the elements," Reagan said. "We can both jump well; that's definitely one of our strong points. Becky is really easy to work with, and that's nice. I've been really surprised with how fast everything clicked."

"Josh is a great natural athlete, and he's a hard worker," Bereswill said. "So much of pairs skating is timing, and that's one thing we know from the tryout: how natural our timing felt. We already have so much trust, and that will just keep building as we keep training."