Gary Shortland


Gary Shortland is a former ice dancing champion of Great Britain. He is currently coaching in Reston, VA. Gary has his own web site at

int-shortlandHow long have you been living and coaching in the US?
I’ve been in the US over 3 years—I moved to Northern Virginia in late April 2001.

Why did you decide to focus on coaching rather than your competitive career?
After the 2000 British Championships, both Charlotte and I were ready for a break, to pursue other aspects of the sport. We felt that the results of that competition were strange, and did not reflect the quality of our competitors’ performances compared to our performance. After a brief break, Charlotte skated for a couple years with another partner, while I moved to America. Both of us have retained our eligibility to compete in ISU competitions, though, leaving our futures open.

Anyway, after considering my options, and talking with other coaches and my family, I decided I’d rather coach than pursue one of the limited touring opportunities available for ice dancers. So I started checking things out and was offered a position coaching at SkateQuest Reston, in America.

Why did you decide to pursue coaching in the US rather than the UK (and why Virginia)?
Opportunities mostly. There’s so many more figure skaters in the US, so it’s much easier to be able to make a decent living as a figure skating coach. Since I moved here, I’ve had no problems maintaining a full schedule of lessons.

I chose Northern Virginia because it’s such a dynamic place to live, with being so close to the US capital. Having lived in the London area my whole life, I wanted to live in a city, yet didn’t really want to live “downtown.” Also, while I was still competing, I’d met Scott Myers, who was then Skating Director at the Reston rink, and he had mentioned that he thought I would be an asset to the rink’s coaching staff.

Are you working with only ice dancers or other disciplines as well?
Initially, I concentrated on coaching only ice dancing (both compulsories and free dance). But in the past 18 months, I’ve started working with several students on their Moves in the Field. I’ve also done choreography for several students for both freestyle programs and free dances.

Do you have any students competing at regionals?
I have a student, Rachel Kane, who’s working on her higher level dances. She just won South Atlantics Juvenile Dance with her partner, Patrick Mays, and will be going to Junior Nationals. Also, one of my former students, who’s since moved on to work with another coach, is competing Novice Dance at Pacific Coasts.

Do you still keep in touch with either of your former partners? My first Ice dance Partner Lucy Platt I haven’t spoken to since we split in 1993, but I always ask my former Coach and colleague Daphne Cronhelm how Lucy and her family are doing. Charlotte and I keep in touch fairly regularly, mostly via e-mail and the occasional phone call.

What is your fondest memory from your competitive career?
It’s hard to pick just one…because I have lots of good memories from when we were competing. But I think it would be either the first time standing at the top of the podium of the British Championships, or at our first World Championships, in 1998.

What other coaches do you look up to, to learn from?
My first dance coach, Daphne Cronhelm, and the coach that helped Charlotte and I make it to the British Championships, Jimmy Young. Also I admire the training and techniques of Natalia Linichuk.

What experiences do you draw from that you think helps you to be a better coach?
Watching and remembering how my coaches taught me the basic skills and dances. Also, being a recent international competitor, I bring to the table a knowledge of how ice dancing has evolved over the years and what is expected for a world-class skater today.

What qualities do you think make a coach a good one?
I think that outside of the obvious (being a strong well-rounded skater), the most important qualities for a coach are listening and observation.

Part of being a good coach is listening to the student when they say something doesn’t feel right, or when they’ve happy because they’ve finally mastered a skill they’ve had trouble with. Observation is also important, because to be able to fix something that’s not working right, I’ve got to be able to see what’s causing the problem.

Finally, a willingness to keep learning… although I’ve been skating for almost 20 years, and coaching for 3 1/2 years, I’m still learning… new ways to teach the basics and the steps of the compulsory dances, and more about sports medicine, and more about music. To give an example, I’ve recently started learning as much as I can about the new ISU Judging System.

What do you hope to offer to the sport of ice dancing through coaching?
I want to give to all my students the fun and enjoyment that I’ve gotten through the years from my skating.

Tell us how you got started with your music editing service.
I’ve always been interested in music, and in having good quality cuts of music for skating. I also like to see a variety of music used, not just the same-old, same-old that we hear all over the place, every year.

I think that every skater, even one at their very first competition, should have well-cut music that fits both their personality and how they skate. There’s nothing worse than a skater getting what’s essentially a “hand-me-down” CD or tape that’s been used by 5 or 6 skaters before them.