Photo by Harumi Akabane
France’s Natasha Lagouge & Arnaud Caffa are the first team in our New Team Series!
Tell us about your individual skating journeys?
NL: I did my first steps on the ice at four years old in Strasbourg. I competed as a singles skater until my fifteen years. In 2014, I trained during one year in Moscow, half of the year as a single and after I switched to ice dance. After, I wanted to come back to France and I knew that in Lyon there is a really good ice dance center. When I contacted coaches, they said that there is a boy who is also looking for a partner, and when I came to Lyon I met my first partner and we skated together during three seasons. I participated twice at the World Junior Championships in 2017 and 2018. Then we stopped our partnership and I was looking for a new partner. At the end of January, with Arnaud and I started to skate together.
AC: I actually had a late start, which is one of my biggest strength nowadays as I am very aware that there is no time to waste anymore. I started skating for fun at 10 years old (free skating), and I started ice dancing at the age of 12. I had 3 partners before Natacha, who I started skating with in January 2019. In 2016, I did my first Junior Grand Prix, which made me enter in the French national team. In May 2017, I went to Detroit for a tryout and stayed there for a year as I was skating with a Canadian girl at Igor Shpilband’s skating school. I came back to France in June 2018 and skated by myself for 6 months. Natacha and I had a tryout at the end of November 2018, another one at the end of December 2018, and finally started skating together in January 2019.
What drew you to ice dance?
NL: When I was a single skater, I always loved skating skills and spins and at one moment I didn’t feel I was improving anymore. I started to develop a huge interest in ice dancing and I really wanted to try and continue my career as an ice dancer.
AC: My sister and my mom first started free skating with me when I was a child. I skated for a couple of months and then stopped. I came back on the ice when I was 10.
What are your earliest skating memories?
NL: When my parents took me to the ice rink by car at early morning with my skates already put on.
AC: My second group exhibition of the club at the end of the season after two years of skating, I was 12.
Tell us about how your partnership started (tryout, etc.)?
NL: Very quickly after announcing the end of my partnership with my previous partner, Arnaud sent me a message on messenger. We decided to do a first try out at the end of November in Lyon which went very well and then we did a second one in Paris at the end of December. We decided to skate together and At the end of January Arnaud came to Lyon.
AC: I first heard on social media (Instagram to be precise) that Natacha and her old partner were breaking up. I directly sent her a text and asked her for a tryout. We tried out in Lyon at the end of November 2018, for a bit more than a week, we also had a tryout in Paris as well for 2 days at the end of December 2018, and we finally started to skate together after my exams at the very end of January.
Who are your coaches? Tell us about your training location.
We are coached by Olivier Schoenfelder, Muriel Zazoui, Marien De La Ascension, Neil Brown and Emi Hirai, and we are training at the International Academy of Lyon.
Tell us some of your favorite memories from your first season skating together.
NL: When we hold the hand of each other for the first time and our first podium at Andorra in November 2019. These are two of my favorite memories.
AC: My favorite memories are the following: the first one would be at the beginning of the season when we did an improvisation on a special song to me. The second one is when we placed third at the international competition of Andorra in November 2019.
Tell us about your training challenges during the pandemic.
NL: During the quarantine, I continued to do physical preparation with cardio and stretching to maintain a good physical condition. I also use this time to study and prepare for my exams.
AC: I had to keep in shape during the quarantine, therefore I worked out every single day of those two months of confinement (except for 3 days). I ran, I was very careful on my diet, and I was also studying a lot as we usually don’t have that much time for school.
How do you approach this season as it is still very unpredictable?
NL: We know that this season is unpredictable but we train quite normally and we will adapt for the competition.
AC: I/We try to train as if nothing was happening, in the sense that we have the same preparation as if it was a normal season starting. We, of course, pay attention to the hygiene restrictions and we focus on our work, our improvement.
Can you give us some background on your programs this season (if available) ?
AC: The short will be even more fun than last year, we are working a lot on this one. The free dance, however, is going to be very classy and surprising. Something that no one would expect us to skate to.
If you could have a lesson from any ice dancer past/present, who would it be?
NL: I really would enjoy having a lesson with Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. I admire them for the skaters they are and for their career.
AC: I would take a lesson from Christopher Dean, or Tessa and Scott. I caaaan’t piiiiiiiick !!!
What do you like most about skating with your partner?
NL: He is a wonderful dancer, a hard worker, he is also really supportive and inspires me every day!
AC: What I like most about skating with my partner is her talent, her hard work, but most importantly, her SOUL, the kindness of her soul.
Is there anything you would like our readers to know about you as a team?
NL: We live with a deep passion for ice dancing that drives us to our same dream and goals.
AC: Some people might not expect us, but we are working very hard to get where we want to be, and I’m 100% convinced that Natacha and I have a connection that only a few teams in the game have. I’m saying that in a very humble way. WATCH US!