Bratti & Somerville reflect and look ahead to next season

by Anne Calder | Photo by Daphne Backman

We are still very proud of ourselves…of the whole season.” – Emily Bratti

At the recent 2024 World Figure Skating Championships, Emily Bratti & Ian Somerville of the United States were in the fifth Rhythm Dance group – #19, the beginning of the second half of competitors. Their names were called; they skated confidently to center ice. The team had chosen music by Prince after watching Yuzuru Hanyu’s “Let’s Go Crazy”. The audience was supportive; the dancers were smiling – suddenly a fall in the Choreographic Rhythm Sequence completely changed the mood.

“We are really proud about how we approached the competition, and how we skated up to that point,” Bratti said. “It was like the best we’d ever skated. We felt really calm and prepared. It was just a fluke thing that happened out of nowhere. We still don’t know. It just really happened. It’s unfortunate. I feel from the beginning – the midline, the twizzles were significantly better than at Nationals. We were so excited toward the end of the program – so happy, and then like an explosion happened. It’s just hard to comprehend.”

It’s not really even a technical element. I would be more upset if it was a twizzle or something,” Somerville added.

“There’s still lots to be proud of. All of the things we’ve gone through in this competition, even leading up to it, all of our practices and training have been in such a good direction and even improving since Nationals. Meeting all the people. We connected with friends we had met before and have seen their progress. It was a really cool experience.”

The following day, the team was still trying to understand what happened. They reflected on their experiences back at U.S. Nationals in Columbus, where they had been selected to compete in Montreal.

“Nationals was a polar opposite experience to this,” Bratti explained. “It was really incredible. Nationals was the first competition where we felt we got completely rewarded for the work we’ve been doing. It felt really good.  We felt support from so many different people in U.S. Figure Skating, the audience, our families, our coaches. We felt like it was our time to shine. It felt really special. Even though it was surprising, it felt like it was totally like the right thing to happen. It was amazing. It felt like our average skate was enough. It felt like our normal skate was enough to be putting ourselves above. It helped us to be in a competition where everybody was like the same. It’s hard to compare.”

“Going into it, well like we weren’t down at Nationals, but the whole season feeling like we weren’t separating ourselves from the rest of the bunch – even being slightly below in average scores,” Somerville noted. “We felt a little bit worried, but we really had been working hard in improving our programs. What we did at Nationals was really the result of all the training we had been doing the whole year. I think our performances were just as good as we do in practices, it it felt really cool to be rewarded for something that honestly didn’t necessarily feel like we skated out of the ordinary. That’s why this experience right now at Worlds is such a weird feeling because we think we skated our Rhythm Dance (here) better than at Nationals – maybe a lot better.”

Bratti continued, “We’ve met with a lot of people who’ve said that it doesn’t change anyone’s thinking of us. We did go out and had an amazing skate until that. Everyone saw it. 

“We didn’t get to do our Free Dance , but we’ve been in practice every day this week. People have been watching that. So either way, we got a lot of really good exposure here. Other than that one tiny thing, things have been going very, very well.”

“Going back to Nationals since we did so well there…the overwhelmingly positive experience from the scores and the feedback and the crowd’s reactions helped us work really hard going into Worlds,” Somerville said.  “The extra training required wasn’t that bad. It was a longer season than the rest of the group, but it didn’t feel that bad because we got to be here. It gave us a lot of motivation and drive.”

The team had considered traveling back to their homes in Maryland after the event, but their mindset changed.

“We honestly just want to go back to Michigan and start preparing immediately for next season,” Bratti explained. “I don’t feel like taking a break at this point.”

Somerville continued. “I feel if we had accomplished the performance in both events we were planning to do, we would have been happy, been relieved for the very long season and ready to take a break. Now It really got cut short with what we wanted to do here.”

“So it serves as a motivation for next season,” Bratti added. “We really need to make the most of it and not let the negative emotions take away the incredible experience.”

After the event, the new Rhythm Dance music for season 2024-2025 was released to the skaters, coaches and choreographers.

“We just heard about five minutes ago that it would be the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s music,” Somerville said. “I’m very excited about it. Before this there was speculation about music before 2000, so I was already listening to a bunch of things in the 70’s. I hadn’t gone back to the 50’s and 60’s.

“There’s a lot of swing in that era – maybe jive and some rock, but a lot of cool styles to pick from. It’s a little broad, but at the same time it gives you a good window to look at. I’m excited.

My dad is really big into this music. He knows all the old artists. He’s always playing music from those eras, so I have some ideas. There’s a lot of good stuff. It’s probably going to be easier to find good Rhythm Dance music than for the Free Dance.”

The team likes to work on the programs themselves. Bratti is into the music and technology. She makes the original cuts on their music.

“I did the Rhythm Dance for the current season, with Hugo Chouinard making the final version,” she explained.

“It helps me get in the mindset for getting ready for the season.”

“As much as it’s amazing to be here now, I just want to go home and get to work for the new season,” said Bratti. “It’s not necessarily that we have to go home and rethink it. We did everything right leading up to here and this happened, and it was so random. There’s nothing I would have done different to get to this point. We have to go home and do the same thing we did this year. Prepare programs that we really love.”

Emily Bratti and Ian Somerville were already long-time friends and training mates in Rockville, Maryland prior to the new partnership in 2021. The duo left their hometowns and moved to Canton, Michigan to train with Charlie White and Greg Zuerlein. Each had worked with Zuerlein in previous partnerships in Maryland. The following year the coaches plus Tanith White opened the Michigan Ice Dance Academy (MIDA).  Bratti & Somerville continue to train in Canton, Michigan.