Jane Summersett and Elliot Pennington are Novice ice dancers who recently won the silver medal at US Nationals. They train under coach Iveta Ice in Massachusetts.
In your own words, tell us how you started skating together.
Jane: “We sent each other video tapes and decided to have a try out. I was living in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan and Elliot was living in the suburbs of Boston. My mom and I had friends in Delaware and we wanted tryouts with some boys in that area. Boston seemed close on the map, so we combined the trip. The distance was a bit longer than we anticipated, and New York was in the way, but mom drove around it and we made it to Boston. My mom decided that we would never move to Boston, because we were used to deer, moose, and snowbanks. Boston only had taxis, city buses, and toll booths. She got a little stressed out, but we both thought Elliot was wonderful. So I then went to the USFSA Colorado Springs Partner Try Outs and Elliot was there. He was as fun to skate with as before, but a move to Boston was still too big to handle. The other potential partnerships didn’t feel good, so I skated in Canada for the summer. Then my family and I teamed up and decided to go for it if Elliot was still looking. My mom called and we flew out to Boston. Elliot’s dad drove this time and the trip went much smoother and was less stressful.”
When did each of you you start skating, and how long have you been ice dancing?
Elliot:“I started skating at age 7. As a teenager my father was a competitive ice dancer and later a coach for many years, so skating was something we did in the family. In the beginning, my father helped me quite a bit. Actually, it was a skating friend of my father who suggested to my parents that I should try ice dancing- I was 10 at that time. So, they asked me if I would like to learn some dances, and I said sure. Once I started ice dancing, I lost interest in free skating. At that time, we were living in Maine, so my parents drove me to Boston every weekend. I did compete with a different partner in juvenile dance in 1999 Junior Olympics- we placed 6th. That experience convinced me that I really wanted to improve my skating and that I liked competing.”
Jane: “I was put on the ice when I was a baby, when my mother was a volunteer basic skills instructor and wanted me with her. Pretty much my whole family was involved with skating at that time. I started testing and competing when I was 6, and started thinking about ice dancing with a partner when I was 13.”
Who are your coaches?
Jane:“Iveta Ice is our coach; she has been coaching Elliot since he was 12. Iveta also does our choreography and much of our off ice work. Dmitri Boundoukin is our second coach and works with us on certain aspects of our skating. Additionally we work with a ballet instructor, Sasha Lunev. Last year we also worked with Julius Kaiser for ballroom dance.”
What were your goals heading in to Nationals?
Elliot: “to deliver a good performance”
Jane: “To skate clean with a lot of expression and place in the middle of the pack”
How do you feel about winning the Novice silver medal in your first season together?
Elliot: “It was a wonderful surprise. This year in Novice dance there were many very good and experienced teams, so I was not expecting this.”
Jane: ” I don’t think either one of us was expecting it.
How did you feel about your performances?
Elliot: “The compulsories were decent, but I think we could have done a better job. We have been feeling very happy and pleased about our coach’s choreography, especially the interesting highlights and details which allowed us to be more competitive. I was somewhat disappointed with the free dance performance, especially because of our fall. We are always working to improve our performances and our presentation, and because we are still beginners we have lots of room for improvement. Actually we were both very excited to be at our first Nationals. It was a great experience and I will never forget it. I would like to add that it was very exciting to see and meet some of the skaters we have been admiring for years.”
Jane: “I agree that our compulsories were decent, but as Iveta always points out there is always a lot to improve on. I was not that satisfied with our performance in the free dance, primarily because of the fall. It leaves room for a lot of improvement, and we definitely plan on improving.”
What are your goals for next season?
Elliot & Jane: “We will be striving to improve our speed, our technical skills, and especially our presentation. Of course, we are hoping to gain more experience which should help us improve our performances. We would love to be able to compete at an international competition, or even more than one. Thinking about everyday challenges, we will also be working to improve our focus and self-discipline. Plus, we also have school requirements, so both of us will be busy keeping up with academics.”
Which compulsory dance is your favorite?
Elliot: Tango Romantica “because it is so cool!”
Jane: “I also like the Tango Romantica, because it is fun to watch when the teams skate it so differently with their own style.”
Which skaters or dancers do you look up to?
Elliot: Peter Tchernyshev, Drobiazko & Vanagas, and Justin Pekarek.
Jane: Shae-Lynn Bourne, “she has great expression and is just a beautiful skater.”
How do you spend your off ice time)?
Elliot: “I like to play DDR (Dance dance revolution), and I like computer programming and all things Linux related. Also I enjoy listening to music. Generally I tend to enjoy more indoor activities, partly because I am allergic to so many trees and grasses.”
Jane: “I love being outside a lot and doing things like swimming, climbing things, camping, and just being with interesting people. When I am inside i like to do crafts, watch movies, listen to simple oldies, and decorate cakes.”