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!!


  1. Great interview! Good luck to Timmy and JuJu!

  2. Thanks. They have lots of people rooting for them.

  3. Great interview. I agree. It's a pleasure to meet young people doing what they love. It would be great if you could get these teens to allow you to use the photo you shared with your followers as the cover of one of your books.

  4. What a fun couple. Makes me want to follow them too. Wish I'd taken up ice skating when I was young. Oh well! I'll enjoy from the sidelines and through your books. Thanks for this. Really a joy to read.