by Anne Calder | Photos by Daphne Backman
Caroline Green & Michael Parsons are a new USA ice dance team who skated previously with their siblings, Gordon Green and Rachel Parsons. They train in Rockville MD with the Wheaton Ice Dance Skating Academy (WISA), where they both began their skating journeys.
Caroline and Michael shared their thoughts with IDC.
IDC: How did this new partnership come about?
MP: After we stopped skating with our former partners, we were just skating around together while we tried to figure out what we wanted to do. The coaches told us to pay attention to our skating because we looked very good together – that our lines were similar, and we both had had the same training our whole [skating] lives.
CG: After two weeks, the coaches sat us down and asked how we felt about skating together.
MP: They wanted us to think about making an actual partnership out of it.
CG: It was like, ‘Let’s just try this out’.
MP: From there we decided that it worked really well.
IDC: How has the training you both had with the WISA group helped with the new partnership?
CG: We’ve always trained together on the same ice. One of the positives to our partnership is that even though we weren’t skating together, we were in the same environment with the same coaches and training etc. We basically came up through the same system.
MP: Our group at WISA is very close-knit. We all know each other very well. We spend a lot of time together. So even though Rachel and I were seniors and Caroline and Gordon were juniors, we were always watching each other’s competitions and sharing the same practice ice.
IDC: Do your ages have any impact on your skating together as a team?
MP: We’re very much aware about the age difference, but on the ice I really don’t think it matters that much. Instead, what does matter is how we skate together, and how we put a program on the ice. Along with our coaches, we know the difference is not going to change, so what we can do is tell a story and skate very well together.
CG: I think people sometimes really forget that skating, as real as it is, is still a show, and our job is as the actors or performers that put on the show. In that sense, I feel the age difference doesn’t necessarily matter.
MP: It’s dancing and dancing is all so individual. We’re very new together, but I think we will have our own style of dance, and that transcends age.
IDC: You both came from sibling partnerships. Siblings have similar body movement. What was it like to have a different feel to your moves?
CG: There was definitely an adjustment period – little things were different. He would do one exercise a tiny bit different than Gordon, and it would feel really weird. I feel like it sort of went away as we became more comfortable skating together.
MP: It was like two puzzle pieces that were the same shapes, but didn’t really fit. We just had to move them around a little bit because the edges were there, but they were off. We’re still working on that – chiseling the rough edges out, and they’re getting better and better every day. Specifically, there was a little adjustment with the twizzles because Rachel and I curved ours.
IDC: Have Gordon and Rachel given your new partners any tips?
MP: I’ve never put any thought into it, but that’s a very interesting idea.
CG: Not so far, but that may be something to try.
IDC: Speaking of Gordon and Rachel, what are they currently doing?
CG: Gordon has been focusing on visiting and applying to colleges and taking his SATs in his senior year. He made the decision to go to college and not limit me in any way. He thought the new partnership would work out, and he didn’t want to hold me back.
MP: Rachel is doing very well. She is going to college in Florida and might help coach the club hockey team. She is fully enjoying life after competitive skating.
IDC: Michael is a former World Junior and Junior Grand Prix Final Champion. Has this been a bit intimidating for you, Caroline?
CG: In a way, yes, because that places a lot of responsibility on me in the sense that I need to be just as good. At first, I think the whole idea of it was a little intimidating. Moving up to seniors felt like such a big jump. However, the short time I have been at seniors it hasn’t felt that much different. With competitions and everything, I’m sure that’s going to change, but so far I think the transition has been pretty smooth.
MP: I also felt a lot of pressure thinking that I would have to help Caroline a lot on the transition to the senior level. However, after a few months of skating together, I don’t feel I have to do that. She’s already an excellent skater, so that initial pressure I was feeling is completely gone away.
IDC: You both had to learn a new rhythm – the Finnstep. How is that going?
CG: The Finnstep is such a fun dance. It’s probably one of my favorites. It’s definitely a little intimidating since it’s so much faster than a lot of the other dances I’ve done in the past. Now that we are a little more comfortable with it, it’s such a fun dance.
MP: It fits us a lot because we’re both on the shorter side. We’re quicker in terms of our leg movements, which is a really a nice thing to have with a dance that has all these quick steps one after the other. It’s easier for us than say someone with long legs. We’re trying to take advantage of that.
IDC: Tell me about your programs.
CG: The Rhythm Dance is from Cry Baby: The Musical. It’s very campy. You know how Broadway is – very showy.
MP: It’s basically just over the top, which is what we were trying to do. It will be interesting to show the judges for the first time and see what they think. Since it’s Broadway, we’re trying to take advantage of every movement and every emotion that comes with the music. It’s crazy music; it’s about a crazy girl.
CG: I get to be the crazy girl, and it’s very fun. I’ve always really loved expression and using the music to my advantage – acting while skating. I feel this is something I’ve always wanted to do.
MP: The Free Dance is a couple of pieces by the French artist, Woodkid. It’s a much more contemporary program than the Rhythm Dance. It’s nice flowing music that has a lot of emotion to it, and it sounds beautiful on the ice.
IDC: What are your goals for this season?
MP: We’re ready to make our mark on the senior field this year. There’s definitely a spot for us. I think we’ve been progressing faster than expected. I’m looking forward to showing what we can accomplish as a new team.
CG: At the Lombardia Trophy this week and our Grand Prix debut in October, we’re hoping to show the judges what we bring to the ice. We don’t have the barrier that comes with a sibling partnership regarding emotional connection and what themes you can do and explore on the ice.
In August, Green & Parsons made an impressive debut at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International with their former partners and families cheering them on from the audience. The team placed third in the Rhythm Dance and was fifth overall.