When Caitlin Yankowskas and John Coughlin take the ice at the Ice Challenge, coach Dalilah Sappenfield will remind them of the new motto in the Colorado Springs, Colo., World Arena: Focus only on what you can control.
“Dalilah and Larry [Ibarra] have spent a lot of time reminding us that our sport has become more about competing against yourself than against the other teams,” said Coughlin, who is entering his third season with Yankowskas. “Each competition is a challenge to find more points hidden in a stronger landing or showing conviction in your movement. Everything else we leave up to God.”
Yankowskas and Coughlin hope self focus at the Ice Challenge, Oct. 28-Nov. 1, in Graz, Austria, leads them to their first international medal. Last season, Yankowskas made their international debut with a sixth place finish at Nebelhorn Trophy and followed it with a sixth place showing at Skate America.
In Austria, they will compete against Americans Chloe Katz and Joseph Lynch, who won the silver medal at Coupe de Nice last season, four-time British champions Stacey Kemp and David King as well as three-time Estonian champions Maria Sergejeva and Ilja Glebov.
“I think our biggest goal this year is to show we can be reliable,” Coughlin said. “I think when we skate clean, we will be very competitive not only nationally, but internationally. If we get to nationals having followed our plan for the season, I am confident we will be pleased with the result.”
After winning the Midwestern Sectional Championship in their debut season, the team finished sixth at the 2008 U.S. Championships. They finished fourth in the short program at the 2009 U.S. Championships but a wild free skate, ranked eighth best, dropped them to seventh overall.
Yankowskas and Coughlin are determined to find themselves on the podium at the 2010 U.S. Championships in Spokane, Wash., which will help decide the U.S. Olympic team, so they have designed two new programs that they will debut in Austria.
“Music is so important, especially in an Olympic year,” Coughlin said. “We tried so hard to find something obscure, that no one had heard before. It wasn’t until Caitlin and I confessed to each other that we were listening to Pearl Harbor in our cars and day dreaming programs, that we found something we both believed in so strongly.”
To compliment their free skate to selections from the Pearl Harbor soundtrack by Hans Zimmer, the pair will skate to “Piano Sonata No. 16” by Mozart for the short program.
“Our short program was music that Dalilah had been given by a friend,” he said. “She brought it on the ice and we immediately liked the connection between the two characters that we could picture. It is the perfect music for the direction we want our team to go.”
The programs are choreographed by Marina Zoueva and Damon Allen.
“We don’t want our programs this year to be element after element,” he said. “Dalilah has stressed that our elements should be accents in our choreography. We are learning everyday that there is a difference between a movement and a moment in choreography. I think all of our teams are training smarter and making each element or run through have value towards our end goal.”
Joining the two American pair teams in Austria are one lady, two men and two ice dance teams. Team USA will be represented by Amanda Dobbs, first at 2008 Junior Grand Prix Mexico; Douglas Razzano, fourth at the 2008 Junior Grand Prix Final; Shaun Rogers, second at 2008 Finlandia Trophy; Lynn Kriengkrairut and Logan Giulietti-Schmitt, second 2008 Karl Schäfer Memorial; and Trina Pratt and Chris Obzansky, seventh at the 2009 U.S. Championships.
Yankowskas and Coughlin will also skate at the Independence Event Center Grand Opening in Independence, Mo., before making their season debut on the Grand Prix series. They will compete at Skate Canada, Nov. 19-22, in Kitchener, Ontario.
Figure Skaters Online strives to be an accurate source of information related to the sport of figure skating. To report an error, please e-mail the news editor. Include the article date and title in your e-mail.