Sunday, January 29, 2017

Young Pairs Team at Nationals (Part 2)

A few weeks ago I blogged about a young pairs team from Orlando—Georgia "Juju" Bush and Timmy Chapman—who were heading to the U.S. Figure Skating National Championships.  I’m delighted to say—and they’re even more delighted I’m sure—that they placed fifth in the nation at the Intermediate level.  Here they are waiting for their scores with their coach, Cheyne Coppage.  It was fun to have a team I knew at the competition, and I followed Facebook posts about their skating, plus the official posts with results.

Of course, since I love to watch skating, I also watched the senior level competitions. I was disappointed when last year’s National Champions, Florida skaters Tarah Kayne and Daniel O’Shea, were forced to withdraw after the short program.  Tarah had a bad fall on a throw jump, and when a trip to the hospital found symptoms of concussion, the doctor determined that she shouldn’t skate.  The title was won by another talented team, Haven Denney and Brandon Frasier, who were silver medalists in 2015.

Timmy, who went to Nationals last year, told me that one of the fun things about being at Nationals is meeting other skaters at all levels.  The picture on the left is Juju and Timmy with the 2017 National Ice Dancing Champions, brother and sister team Maia and Alex Shibutani. Below they are with the Novice National Champions, Erin Coleman and Derrick Griffin. Like Juju and Timmy, this young team trains in Florida. Juju and Timmy will move up to Novice for next year.  I’m sure they’ll do well.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Young Pairs Team Goes to National

Talking with Timmy and Juju
One of the joys of setting my middle grade books in the skating world is that I get to meet some fabulous kids.  Two of them are sixteen-year-old Timmy Chapman and fourteen-year-old Georgia (Juju) Bush, a young pairs team getting ready to compete as intermediates at the United States Figure Skating Championships next week.

Are they excited?  Definitely.  “Our goal was to get there.  It’s such an honor just to go,” said Timmy.  “Any medal would be amazing!”  Juju agreed with a nod and a laugh.  “It’s so exciting.”

Ready to skate.
They will skate to “It Had To Be You” for their short program and a “Grease” medley for their freestyle, or long program.  Their hardest element, they said, is doing a side-by-side double flip/double toe combination jump.

Their success is especially rewarding because they only started skating together in August.  Timmy had skated pairs before with a different partner, but pairs was new to Juju.  Fortunately, unlike my characters Jamie and Matt, Timmy and Juju liked each other right away and love skating together, as you can see by their smiles.

“I like working with someone,” said Juju. “It’s fun to work on unison in skating, and I work out more since we’re doing it together.”

“Juju’s fun to skate with,” added Timmy, “and she gets me to work harder, which is good.”  Timmy also likes all the people they meet and the chance to travel.

Both Timmy and Juju have been skating for a while and both also compete in singles.  Timmy’s first sport was swimming, but with his mom, B-J Shue-Chapman, a coach at the RDV Sportsplex Ice Den in Orlando, he couldn’t escape being around the ice.  When he was little, his mom would put him in ice shows as a “prop,” so she knew where he was.  Finally, at ten, he decided he wanted to skate in a show and began lessons.  To solo, he had to be able to do an axel—it took him only a year.  Skating has been a passion ever since.

Juju started skating at eight when her family lived in California, and she continued after they moved to Florida.  She entered her first competition when she was ten.  She loves being on the ice and it shows in her smiles.  “I always loved the jumping and spinning,” she said, “and now I like pairs more than singles.  I think there are more opportunities for us in pairs.”

Practicing the platter lift.
Timmy and Juju are coached by Cheyne Coppage, a two-time National Pairs Champion at the novice and intermediate levels.  His professional skating career includes Disney on Ice, Royal Caribbean, and Sea World, where he is a featured skater at Sea World’s Christmas Ice Shows.  Not only has he coached this new team to nationals, but he is a great role model as they both look to performing professionally in the future.

Timmy would like to do it all.  “I want to medal in competitions and then work in shows and coach.  “I want to be part of other skaters’ journey.”  Eventually, though, he’d like to study choreography in college and work with both skaters and dancers.

“I’d like to do the same skating things as Timmy,” said Juju, “except for the choreography.  I really like art and computers, and would love to design a game.”  She also enjoys sculpture and digital art and looks forward to studying both in college someday.

With so much talent and a willingness to work hard, I’m sure Timmy and Juju will find success both on and off the ice.  Good luck to both of them at Nationals—and beyond!!