by Anne Calder

In June, Germany’s Katharina Müller and Tim Dieck returned to the Arctic Edge Club in Canton, Michigan, for training and choreography with Marina Zoueva’s team. They will head back to Dortmund in August after competing in the Lake Placid ice dance competition and the Dance-Pairs Chicago Championships. In Canton, Müller & Dieck shared their thoughts in a Q & A session.

When and why did you begin skating? Why did you choose ice dance?

Katharina: I was five years old when I skated on an open rink near my home. Figure skating was something I’ve known only from TV. I wanted to be like all the beautiful girls with their beautiful jumps, spins, and smiles. I did single skating until I was 13, but my jumps never were that good. A coach from Dortmund invited me to try out ice dancing. At the beginning I was skeptical, but I watched videos on the Internet. I realized this discipline is the right one for me, and I don’t regret that decision at all.

Tim: I first stepped on the ice when I was three. My grandfather used to be a roller-skating and figure skating coach. My mom coaches single skaters, and my father is the host of the club of the Dortmund ice rink. I was always into sports. When I was 12, I had to decide between skating and tennis. I chose tennis. After two years without any skating competitions, I felt something was missing in my life, so I went back on the ice for fun. My current coach [Vitali Schulz] asked if I wanted to try ice dancing. I said no, but I tried it, and I liked it. I could never jump that good. After my first tryout it was clear that I wanted to do ice dancing. I started loving it.

How did you form your partnership?

Katharina & Tim: It was around the end of April 2014 when we were both looking for a new partner. Katharina’s old partner had stopped one year before, and my partner suddenly stopped after our first Junior World Championships. Our current coach arranged a tryout. Our first steps on the ice felt good. We felt everything matched, and it felt natural. Our last words on the tryout day were, Tim:” What are your goals in skating?” Katharina: “I want to participate at the 2018 Olympic games!” Tim: “Let’s do that!” We started skating as a new ice dance couple in May 2014.

What are your goals?

Katharina & Tim: This season is the Olympic year, so the goal is very clear. We both want to participate at the 2018 Olympics. After that we want to continue at least until the Olympics 2022.

To do our best is the main goal. To get better and better and higher each season is the best that we can do. All the rest will be the decision of the judges.

Tim: My personal goal is to learn as much as possible of this sport. As soon as this sport started to get “real“ for me, I realized that there is so much to learn from it for all my life. So, I will just take whatever is possible to grow up in my way of thinking for entire life.

What are you looking forward to the most in returning for a second year to train in Canton? What elements will you work on?

Katharina: There are so many good skaters in one spot. Practice is so much fun because we push, support and motivate each other. The coaches are amazing. Every day there is something new you learned or realize you need to learn. In the first weeks, we will definitely work on the rhumba and our new programs.

Tim: I enjoy every second of training in Canton. We have learned so much by only watching what other skaters like the Shibutanis or Patrick Chan do to improve. The training conditions are very good. We can plan the rest of the sessions we want, next to the private lessons we have. We do not have these training conditions in Germany, so we use every little minute to improve and get better. We will basically be working on our overall performance. This includes all the skating skills, our relation on the ice to create a better look, and also all the elements.

What will it be like training with your fellow Germans Kavita (Lorenz) and Joti (Polizoakis) for the first time?

Katharina: I was pretty excited to meet them for our first practice because I had the same question. Immediately after starting to practice on the ice, I knew there is nothing extraordinary about it. We are all so much into our work that we don’t even recognize who is on the ice with us. Everyone is concentrated and works on their stuff; we don’t have time to think about other couples.

Tim: I think there is no difference to how the training was beforehand. Katharina and I know what we have to work on and what we need to do to get better. That’s the main goal of our every day hard work, and that doesn’t change when Kavita and Joti practice with us or not. I am speaking on a different level, but I don’t think Meryl Davis & Charlie White and Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir ever thought about how it’s like to train together. Both couples concentrated on themselves and tried to improve every day. So basically, nothing has changed.

Talk about your 2017-18 programs. Share your thought about the rumba.

Katharina & Tim: One thing we know about this year’s programs: We love them!

We love to dance Latin. Hearing Latin music we just get into the mood immediately and have so much fun to skate to the samba and other rhythms. The rumba is a really sophisticated dance. Our SD music is “Dibby Dibby” from Avera, “I’m Not the Only One” by Sam Smith and Campo Grande.

Finding the FD was pretty hard this time because we wanted something special that suits us 150%. A lot of skaters are going to do classical music for the Olympic season. We didn’t feel ready for this kind of music, so we chose some music everyone knows and nearly everyone likes. At least the skaters in the ice rink are singing our music all the time. We took three pieces from the musical Bodyguard, “I Have Nothing”, “Run to You”, and “Queen of the Night”. We’re really happy with our choice and love the choreography by Massimo Scali.

How do you handle the pressure of competition?

Katharina: Every competition is different. Sometimes I can go on the ice and think I’m going to rock it. Sometimes I just couldn’t handle the pressure and felt uncertain. Tim and I are getting better competition-to-competition. We understand things and can handle a lot of situations better than a few years ago. The only reason why we were struggling is because we put too much pressure on ourselves, and this is what we try to avoid now.

Tim: I was always a very nervous person when it came closer to competitions. Since our first senior season, we’ve started to work with a sport psychologist. We’ve tried a couple of different things with him. Since our first season together until now, we’ve already improved a lot. It’s all about believing, so we are pretty sure in the upcoming season we will improve again.

If you could invite one ice dance team to give you a lesson, who would it be?

Katharina: Definitely Meryl and Charlie. They are our idols. Once they were preparing for a show while we had practice. We just couldn’t take our eyes off of them. To learn from them would be a great honor for me.

Tim: It’s definitely Meryl Davis and Charlie White. The different styles they showed throughout their careers are just unique. I know all the YouTube clips of them, even when they were very young and just started skating together. Another point why it’s such an honor is to get coached by their former coach Marina Zoueva.

What events or competitions in your journey so far stand out the most?

Katharina: There are three competitions I will never forget. First was my very first Junior Worlds with Tim. In the free dance I think Tim got a little excited and went out of a spin in the wrong direction. The second half of the program we skated with the back to the judges. I tried to do some improvisation to cover the mistake. At the end, none of the judges except our German judge noticed this spontaneous change. Next, at our first Europeans in the short dance, I got super nervous and failed the twizzles. Then I got more nervous; I couldn’t handle the pressure. We didn’t make the free dance, but the situation made me even stronger to show a different side of me next time – strong and confident. I also will never forget the 2017 Universiade Games.

Tim: For sure, it was the 2017 Universiade Games in Kazakhstan. Everything was like the real Olympic Games just smaller. The moment we went through the curtain at the opening ceremony with our German team, it was like a dream. Everybody was clapping and watching you and your team. It has been the best half round of walking in an ice rink that I’ve ever had. Everyone was asking for pictures and autographs. It was a great experience to skate two programs in front of 12,000 spectators. I got so excited and enjoyed every second of our programs so much. We both said we need and want that feeling again!

What advice would you give an ice dance team just beginning its career?

Katharina: Work hard and just have patience. Especially in ice dance, success will come in time. It’s going to be a journey of ups and down, but when you get over it, you will see why it was worth the fight for your goals and dreams. And never forget to love what you’re doing.

Tim: First of all you should enjoy it. If you don’t enjoy and love what you do, you can’t handle the work you have to do in this sport. Never Give Up! There are good and bad times in skating as there are in normal life. Once you get into bad times which almost knock you down, you have to say to yourself that there are good times coming soon. Just keep working every day, every minute, and every second.

What do you enjoy doing off the ice?

Katharina: I love to travel to discover the world and to see how different we all are. I would like to learn more languages and to play the guitar, but I will do that when I finish my skating career.

Tim: I love to give skating lessons to kids. It’s magic when you see the fire in their eyes when they enjoy what they’re doing. I’ve started doing choreography for some of the skaters in Dortmund, which I really enjoy as well. For half a year I’ve also started cutting music for some skaters. The last two months I am into some DJ mixing and trying to produce some beats. I also like to play the guitar and piano a bit when I have time.

Share something with our readers that no one knows about you.

Katharina: I really love to sing very emotional and loud when I’m driving or when I’m alone at home. I don’t do it if somebody’s there. Unfortunately, my voice is not good enough for that.

Tim: One thing not everyone knows is that my dream after skating is to become a famous actor. Let’s see if this dream comes true.

Katharina and Tim would like to train more in Canton with Marina Zoueva’s team. Unfortunately, their financial situation limits the opportunity. To help them in their training expenses, visit their GoFundMe page.  To learn more about them, check out their Facebook page.