News and Views from the world wanderings of Pj Kwong.  Finally!  A place for all of the things I write and think about!

Posted By SkatingPj






Pj's Not Only Skating Blog has been re-located to:


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Posted By SkatingPj

Tomas Verner at Mariposa Gala August 2011
I ventured north of the city one morning last week to get in a quick chat with Tomas Verner. I was wondering whether or not he would be fit to compete in his two Grand Prix events. I knew that he had been struggling with a back injury and wanted to hear his status from the horse's mouth. Before we go the chance to chat, I watched him practice.  i saw him do several quad toes as well as triple axels. They weren't all pretty but I can tell you given the severity of the injury I was impressed.

This from coach Bob Emerson: "He moved a disc out of place about 12 weeks ago and has not been able to really train. I don't care who you are, it takes a minimum of 8 - 10 weeks to heal. We are on a fine line. I don't want to push it. It can go either way on either side of the fence. Not skating in NHK or Russia would not be a good idea."

Tomas says that he spent 2 weeks in California in the summer with Rafael Aratunian where his goal was to work on jumps. He had been experiencing some back pain before going and on the advice of his Dad tried stretching and physio. He thought it was muscular and he could work through it. Truthfully, he didn't help himself by jumping like a man posessed his first week in California and by the time the second week rolled around he had to miss sessions. He even found that over the course of 3 days, he coouldnt reach his feet to put on his own socks.

Once home, he gave in to the fact that this was serious and sought help.  It was one step forward and two steps back for the first few weeks when the disc problem flared up agai. he had decided that if it happened again he would have to give up. Fortunately, he found acupuncturist Susan McRae whose strategy is to motivate the body to fix itself and it seems to be working. Overall, Tomas is pleased that he was able to stay n the ice working on edges and "everything else" with Lori Nichol. He is back jumping and spinning with the exception of his sit spin which he will only try at NHK.

On another note, Tomas showed Lori and me a picture of him as a model for a Calendar called Passion, avaiable in the Czech Republic. He was delighted to be asked to be part of this initiative which supports AIDS and HIV awareness and education.

Here is more from Tomas Verner:


@@Pj's got LOTS more videos on YouTube - PjKwongWordBroker @@

Posted By SkatingPj

Denis Ten KAZ

Walking in the Richmond Training Centre last week, I was greeted with the sight of two people on the ice working in tandem. As choreographer Lori Nichol demonstrated the look she was going for, student Denis Ten matched her step for step. I was stopped dead in my tracks at the sight of Denis; his style of movement comes from the heart and is compelling to watch.

I asked Lori and Denis separately if they thought that 'movers' were born or if they could be taught. Lori said definitively: "It can be taught. There are more than a few out there whose skating draws you in - and I can assure you there are more that are taught than are natural."

Denis answered it this way: "There are natural movers and there are skaters who get taught. I think that in order to win you need to be a combinaton of both."

Hmmm...interesting. I don't know about you - but I think I can tell the difference. Denis is one of those natural movers that I first saw on a teensy tiny TV monitor while calling the 4 Continents Championships a couple of years ago. At the time, his material was not what it is today but I could still feel his passion infusing the program rather then being superimposed on top of his skating.

Regardless of results, I still think he is wonderful to watch:

On our way out of the coaches' room - Lori said - "make sure you get him to smile - he has a great smile". As usual, when it comes to skaters and skating - she's right :)


 Fun to watch the evolution of a terrific skater and wonderful young man :) The still pic by the way was taken at the Thornhill competition in the summer...looks like he has grown again??


Don't forget Pj is on YouTube: PjKwongWordbroker and Twitter @skatingpj

Posted By SkatingPj

I have to say that this was the first time I has the chance to talk to Amelie Lacoste in any sort of detailed way and found her to be the soul of patience!  The fact that she was willing on 3 separate occasions to come back and answer questions via Skype because of my inability to make the recording function work...makes her #1  books!

As for skating - she has been working really hard in anticipation of her start in the Grand Prix series this weekend as one of 3 Canadian women competing.

"Last year was a big year for me. I did 2 Grand Prixs I was on the podium last year at Skate Canada and going to Worlds was one of the biggest goals I had for last year.  I worked so hard and I did a great job at Worlds."

The trick of course is to try and figure out what to do differently in this season and Amelie talks ab out stepping out of her comfort zone to create programs in styles she hasn't used before.  For the short program, she is skating to Satin Doll with choreography provided by Shae-Lynn Bourne and is excited by the dance-y style."The short program isa new style for me. At first I wasn’t sure. It was difficult but after working with Shae-Lynn I got comfortable and got used to the music. She makes you comfortable on the ice to put your best on the ice even though for me it is very different music: sexy and charming."

In her free program, working with the character of Eva Perron and the music from 'Don't cry for me Argentina' with choreography from Julie Marcotte, it proved to be more of a challenge: "This is a 'character program'.In my long program, some parts are very powerful and some parts are smooth. It's almost like giving my heart and telling a story with this program.In the middle is sensitive and reaching judges and showing  what I feel inside. I am not used to it and I am kind of shy but Julie made me comfortable and now I am excited to perform it."

She will be competing at Skate Canada and Cup of Russia for the Grand Prixs and would like to make top4 in each event and maybe even make it to the Grand Prix Final: 

I would love to do the Final although I am very aware that all the GP are very difficult. But it is still my goal…why not?" Why not indeed as she is planning a 3lo/3lo in the short and 5 triples in the free.

I was interested to know what she does to boost herself if things don't go according to plan at a competiton. "I always try to find the positive thing in my bad skate and then re-build using those positive things. When I go back to training I put the negative aside and realize that the negative doesn't have to affect us. We can be strong." The other source of her strength, she is quick to point out is her family. Her parents Cecile and Andre Lacoste and her sister Stephanie "they gave me everything and they always stand beside me whether it's good or bad."

Skating is "my passion" says Amelie. "When I am skating, I feel freedom, like I am giving my everything." She has been dreaming about being a skater since she was a little girl. "I have always had big goals and big dreams and wanted to be the best skater I could be. I think I have achieved those goals."

A little more from Amelie Lacoste - before hitting the ice this weekend in Mississauga.

Don't forget - this and many more videos on Pj's YouTube Channel:


@@On YouTube PjKwongWordbroker on Twitter @skatingpj @@


Posted By SkatingPj

With the start of the 2nd ISU Grand Prix event in Mississauga, Ontario less than a week away, I thought it would be fun to catch up with 2011 Junior World Men's champion Andrei Rogozine who is slated for his senior GP debut at Skate Canada.

The first thing I noticed was Andrei's energy and openness and quick smile when we sat down to chat after a practice session at his suburban Toronto home training base, the Richmond Training Centrre.

His start in skating came after seeing Olympic Champion Alexei Yagudin on television where he was intrigued by the champion's huge jumps, his power and his interesting and creative programs. Andrei found his way to the rink where he has been coached by one of his two coaches, Inga Zusev from the very beginning. Andrei says that he has skated at lots of different clubs along the way and has also picked up Alexei Berezintsev as an additional coach.This season's choreographers are Shae-Lynn Bourne, who created his 'modern classical' short program and Carol Lane and Juris Razgulaevs who choreographed his free program to Spanish music. Andrei's self perpective is: "I am sometimes lazy but I work really hard." He describes the gift that skating  has offered him: "It helps me become motivated and determined to achieve a certain task. I take this really seriously." He is a young man very focused on skating but it isn't all serious: "Fun for me is jumping and I also like competing. I love the fact that I am getting to travel the world." This is no doubt one of the advantages of being a good competitive skater. Andrei is excited to not only be competing at Skate Canada this season but he will also be competing at the Rostelecom Cup of Russia.  This event will have particular significance for the 18 yr old as it will be the first time he will go back to Russia, where he was born, since leaving the country as a five year old.  His goals for the season are to finish in the top 5 at both Grand Prix events and to be one of the two Canadian men heading to Senior Worlds in Nice, France in March 2012.

As part of his training, he heads to the gym and additionally does some running. He has also been known to do back to back run throughs of his programs where sometimes the focus is not so much the jumps but rather the training.

Keeping on top of his game is essential obviously in preparation for competition: "It's certainly nerve wracking to compete, but it's what I am trained to do. I am always nervous before my first jump but then I concentrate on skating the best that I can."

Closer to home, Andrei is focusing on finishing his last semester of high school online and says that he is a biology/science guy as far as his favourite subjects are concerned. He is very much like any other Canadian kid who enjoys video games and goofing around with his golden retriever Axel. With great pride, he fills me in on the move to Newmarket from Richmond Hill that he and his Mom are making to a new house whose downpayment was partly made with  prize money Andrei earned from competing..

As for the future, Andrei makes no predictions but would love to be at the olympics in Sochi in 2014 and in Korea in 2018, where he won his junior world title.

Andrei says he is concentrating on "now" and as far as being in the senior ranks,

"now" is almost here.


@@@@Pj's Book TAKING THE ICE is taking the Skating World by storm@@@@



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