Audrey Shin and Balázs Nagy preparing for debut

By Gina Capellazzi, Team FSO website administrator
Photos by Audrey Shin and Robin Ritoss

As a singles skater, Audrey Shin, 20, was the 2020 Skate America bronze medalist and finished fourth at the 2022 Four Continents Championships. Following the 2023-2024 season, she started a new opportunity — learning pairs.

With his partner, Chelsea Liu, Balázs Nagy, who will turn 26 on July 9, won the bronze medal at Skate America last season and won the pewter medal at the U.S. Championships in January. Two months later, Liu announced the end of her partnership with Nagy to prioritize her mental health.

On June 10, Shin and Nagy announced their partnership. Figure Skaters Online caught up with Shin and Nagy to ask them about their partnership and their goals for this season and beyond.

Tell us about your individual skating journeys.

Audrey Shin (AS): I started skating for fun with my younger sister, when I was five years old. There was a new ice rink that had just been built next to the church I was attending at the time in New York. My dad had some skating experience from his time speed skating in high school, so he wanted us to try skating for fun during a public session. I fell in love with skating right away, so my parents enrolled me in Learn-to-Skate lessons.

Balázs Nagy (BN): I started skating shortly after moving to the U.S. in the early 2000s. My parents signed my sister and I up for skating and gymnastics and somehow skating stuck. I kept skating as a singles skater, unsuccessfully might I add. I decided to quit because I saw no future for myself in the sport until I decided to come back to do shows for a year before leaving for college. I made an Ice Partner Search account and my first partner’s (Kate Finster) mom found me and we moved out to Colorado and thus began my pairs journey. 

Audrey, tell us about your journey from singles to pairs. When did you decide to try pairs?

AS: I have always wanted to try pairs, and many people asked me to consider it even when I was younger. Since I was finding good rhythm, success, and enjoyment in singles, I paused the idea of pursuing pairs for a while. However, during my 2023-2024 season last year, I began to feel insecure and unsure about my skating abilities. It was a challenging time where I struggled to maintain confidence in myself as a singles skater, something I had never experienced before. I found myself overthinking and feeling immense pressure that I placed on myself, which caused me to lose some joy and motivation in skating. It felt like the right time to explore something new.

Who did you start working with to get your pair elements? How long did it take you to learn the elements?

AS: Pairs skating had always intrigued me, and thoughts of trying it kept resurfacing in my mind, especially after hearing that I was the dream partner of another pair skater — haha! After Nationals, depending on my results, I decided to give pairs a try. I worked with a few people to learn the pair elements; Chris Knierim and Brandon Frazier were two experienced partners who helped me adapt to these new elements quickly and safely. Working with Balazs now, I continue to learn new elements, and overall, I feel like I’ve made significant progress.

What has been the biggest adjustment since going from singles to pairs? What have you enjoyed the most about this new discipline for you?

AS: There have been several significant adjustments for me since transitioning from singles to pairs, mainly because I had no prior experience in pairs skating. Until this year, I had never even attempted a press lift on the ice! Simple tasks like maintaining proper tracking, knowing when and where to turn as my partner turns, and other small details have required me to learn and continue learning.

I genuinely enjoy skating with a partner and working on elements together. Rediscovering my passion for this sport has brought me immense happiness and excitement every time I step onto the ice now.

Balázs, you “fell out of love with the sport” for a while, but came back last season and saw success with Chelsea Liu. Then you found yourself without a partner. Was it unexpected that Chelsea may step away for her mental health? Did you contemplate retirement at all? What made you decide to search for another partner?

BN: Chelsea was a great partner. Unfortunately, throughout the entire season, there was a lot going on behind the scenes but I supported her the best I could. Ultimately, it wasn’t a surprise, but the end of a partnership is never easy. There was never any question as to whether I was going to continue skating or not so when the partnership ended I immediately began the search. 

How did your partnership start? Describe the tryout.

BN: I heard that Audrey was interested in starting pairs. I knew, out of the entire U.S. skating landscape, I only wanted to try out with one person, so it was perfect. We tried out briefly in Colorado Springs and then decided to skate together for another week in California. Before the end of the week (I think) we both knew this was the right choice and made the decision to form a partnership. 

AS: I was working with various experienced pair partners to continue learning and developing my pair skating skills in preparation for a proper tryout. Around that time, I heard that Balazs had split with his former partner. We decided to hold tryouts in Colorado and California, and our partnership was established from that point onward.

What is it that you already like most about skating with each other?

BN: I really love how focused she is on skating and our shared goals. She’s focused, a hard worker, and a quick learner. 

AS: I appreciate how Balazs brings a wealth of pairs experience, which allows him to guide me whenever I need direction. He matches my energy and is consistently motivated to improve our performance.

What experiences do each of you bring to the partnership? 

BN: I think I can finally call myself a “pair boy.” I feel like I now have enough experience to say that. Audrey brings a wealth of singles experience, especially with her jumps and presentation/expression.

What has been the biggest adjustment for each of you so far in the partnership?

BN: The greatest adjustment has been Audrey’s newness to the discipline. I’ve never skated with someone new to pairs before so this is something new for me. While it is an adjustment, I also like the fact that it is in a way carte blanche. There are no bad habits, no technical incompatibilities that need to be addressed. 

AS: Having no prior partner experience, learning how to skate with a partner and developing my pair skating skills from the ground up has been the most significant adjustment for me. I’ve had to learn everything from scratch, starting at ground zero. 

You both have had your share of injuries. Balazs, you have had shoulder surgeries, and Audrey, you have had ankle surgery and dealt with ankle problems. Are you both fully recovered?

BN: I always joke that athletes are never fully recovered, there’s always something going on. True to form, I underwent a minor surgery in May for an injury I suffered last October. Luckily, I have since fully recovered and feel like my body is in great shape. 

AS: My stress reaction has fully recovered, and overall, my body has been feeling good. Adapting to pair elements has been a learning process for my body, especially since it’s quite different from singles skating. For instance, landing throw jumps puts a higher impact on my ankle. However, I have been focused on keeping my ankle strong, and I’ve been managing well. While I do get very sore and have numerous bruises, I’m happy to say that I haven’t sustained any injuries.

Tell us about your training site. What made you decide to work with Bruno Marcotte and Andrew Evans in Toronto? What was the move like for the both of you? 

BN: Bruno’s experience and ability as a coach is undeniable. I felt like I needed a fresh start and I wanted to train with other high-level teams, especially Riku (Miura) and Riyuchi (Kihara), who I look up to. The move was easier than expected, other than the long drive. 

AS: I really appreciate Bruno’s teaching style, especially since I needed a coach who could guide me through learning proper technique from the very beginning stages. I am also inspired and motivated being able to train with a lot of talented teams here. It’s been a great environment for my development.

Tell us about your coaches.. Are you still going back to Colorado Springs to work with Tammy Gambill, and if so, how often are you working with her in Colorado Springs? 

AS: My family still lives in Colorado Springs, so I plan to return home from time-to-time and continue working with Tammy during those visits. When Balazs and I are back in Colorado, we will also work with Tammy together.

How did you decide to work with Julie Marcotte and Drew Meekins for your programs? Who choreographed which program? Who arranged your music? How did you decide on the music “Lacrimosa” and “River Flows in You”? What do you like about each program? Are you telling a story in your programs?

BN: I was recovering from the surgery in Colorado Springs where Drew is based out of. We both liked his artistic vision and choreography and when Audrey found “River Flows In You”, we asked Drew if he would work with us. I’m really happy with the way he developed this program around a cohesive theme. He explained to us his vision was inspired by water. Two droplets of water may never be connected, but as they flow through a river, they are on the same path, perpetually intertwined. The piece is widely recognized as a love song characterizing the natural flow of a relationship and the conflict that can arise within it. It starts softly and grows darker, like a storm, but ends triumphantly- like the storm is over and the relationship has overcome the obstacles. Throughout the whole piece, the music sounds fluid, like water, and ultimately that is what we want our skating to reflect.

Since we had our free skate choreographed first and we knew we needed to showcase a different style of movement and music, Audrey and I began driving to Montreal without having our music picked out, but we had six hours of driving to find our short program. As soon as Audrey played “Lacrimosa,” I recognized it from The Shining and Hannibal and on the first listen, we looked at each other and knew we had found our music. I love how different the two pieces are- one is light and soft and gentle, while the short program is more dark and intense. 

What are you looking forward to most this skating season? What will be your biggest challenge(s)? What are your goals for this season and for your partnership?

AS: I am eagerly anticipating competing as a pair team and showcasing our new programs at competitions this season. I have always enjoyed competing internationally, and I anticipate a completely different experience now as a pair skater. I am incredibly excited to embrace this new chapter and hope to make a strong impression this season!

BN: I’m looking forward to competing and the people you meet on the circuit. I’m excited to showcase our programs and develop throughout the season. Being a new partnership and new to the discipline, I think our biggest challenge will be gelling as a team and skating as a team, not just two skaters side-by-side. Our goals are to compete internationally, compete on the Grand Prix circuit, and medal at Nationals. 

What will be your first competition?

BN: We’re still working on our full season schedule, but we are looking at an NQS (National Qualifying Series) event as one of our first competitions. 

There is a TBD pair spot for Skate America. Are you hoping for that spot? What do you think your chances are that you’ll be given that spot?

BN: We are hoping for that spot. We are working very hard every day to develop and grow to be able to show off a skillset that deserves that spot. While it’s not going to be a walk in the park I think that by trusting our coaches and each other it is an attainable goal. 

We are two years away from the Olympics. Is that your goal – to represent Team USA at the 2026 Olympics?

BN: It has always been my dream to compete at the Olympics. I believe with hard work and the correct puzzle pieces in place, it is a goal we can work for.