IDC: Caitlin, tell us about your journey to your new partnership. Last season, you had a brief partnership with Max Zavozin and now you will skate with Kristjan Rand for Estonia. Tell us how this all came about.
CM: At the time my partnership with Max ended, it was too late to find another partner and compete in the 2007/2008 season. Since I had taken a leave of absence from Santa Clara University to train in Virginia, I decided to use my free time to explore different training centers around the country, and find a good situation in which I could go to a school part time. I applied to the University of Michigan “just in case” I found a partner who skated at one of the training centers in the area. I arranged a visit to Canton, curious to see what the training program was like, and found the environment very exciting and motivating. Igor (Shpilband) and Marina (Zoueva) helped me look for a partner, arranging a tryout with Kristjan, whose former partner, Grethe Grunberg, had been forced to retire from skating due to an injury. Kristjan had spent several summers training in Canton, so our coaches were very familiar with his skating and believed we would be a good match. Kristjan and I really enjoyed skating together in our tryout, and it was evident that our styles complimented each other. Kristjan is very graceful and has wonderful presentation, and I knew immediately that I wanted to skate with him. Kristjan went home to Estonia to review our tryout video with his mother (who is also a coach), and a few weeks later we decided to form a team!
IDC: Kristjan, you and your former partner, Grethe Grunberg, had success at the junior level, but had not competed at senior when you seem to have disappeared last season. Can you tell us what happened?
KR: The last competition that Grethe and I skated in was Worlds in Tokyo. Grethe developed a serious ankle problem that forced us to sit out the next season. Unfortunately the injury never went away completely, and eventually Grethe decided to retire from skating. Now she is focusing on school now and working.
IDC: Caitlin, what is your status now in regard to skating for Estonia? Will we see you this season? If so, when?
CM: Kristjan and I will be representing Estonia, and will begin competing this season! It’s only been about a year since I competed, but it seams like much longer. I am eager to perform again! Our first events will be Finlandia Trophy and Karl Schaeffer Memorial, and of course we will compete at the Estonian National Championships in December. After that, we’ll have to wait and see what happens! 4)
IDC: Caitlin, school remains a solid force in your life; are you able to attend school while training in Michigan, if so, how is that going?
CM: I really love being in school and my life feels quite out of balance when I am not taking classes. During my year off, I managed to take calculus online, but I really missed the classroom and the company of other students! I transferred to the University of Michigan as a junior, and just began classes a couple weeks ago. I’m deciding between two majors— neuroscience and “the biological basis of behavior”— that are similar to the “psychobiology” major I was pursing at Santa Clara University in California. It’s great having a bunch of skaters in the area attending the same school; I’ve already got some teacher recommendations from Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White)! Hopefully they can teach me something about football too— it’s like a prerequisite to attend U of M!
IDC: Explain your training situation (coach, location, etc.).
CM: Kristjan and I are training in Canton, Michigan, with Igor Shpilband and Marina Zoueva. Kristjan had trained in Canton for a few months at a time over the past couple years. Since we are both relatively new to the area, we’ve spent a lot of time together off the ice and become good friends. We really enjoy skating in Canton, as the coaching is terrific and there is such a nice group of skaters who keep one another excited and motivated each day. Both Kristjan and I find it inspiring and valuable to train alongside so many talented athletes.
IDC: What are your goals for this season?
CM & KR: Being such a new team, we are not that concerned with placements and results. We are really hoping to utilize both of our strengths to the fullest, and blend our styles together in a way that is compelling to watch. From the tryout, we noticed that we compliment each other well, but now we are working to gain the polish of a team that’s been skating together for years. I think that’s our main goal: to get to really know each other, on and off the ice, so that we can look like we’ve been skating together for a lot longer than three months. Since neither Kristjan nor I competed last season, we are both extremely eager to get out there and feel what it’s like to perform again.