This interview is part of the former “Getting to Know..” series interviews. This interview was completed on January 7, 2003.
Katie Copely and Duke Wensel moved up to Junior in the 2003/04 season. After the 2002-03 season, Dean Copely and Ashley Foy ended their partnership as Ashley moved to Texas. Dean Copely continues to focus on his freestyle.
“Dean and Katherine Copely are brother and sister Ice Dancers. Together for less than a year, their teams Ashley Foy & Dean Copely and Katherine Copely & Duke Wensel will have both competed at the National level this season.”
Dean & Ashley
How did you and Ashley become partners? / How did you two come to decide to compete in ice dancing?
Ashley and I skated on the same free style sessions at the same rink and became friends off-ice. This was about one month before the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships. I had been there the year before with a partner and Katie came with us, skating solo dance. We thought it would be great if we could both go back with partners this year. I spoke to Ashley, who had never danced before, and our mom’s and the coaches made all the plans. We trained hard for about 4 weeks and won the bronze medal in the Juvenile Free dance.
We did so well at LP that we decided stay together and try to make it to Junior Nationals again. I competed there last year in dance, the same year Ashley went for pairs. Our coaches worked with us to improve our compulsories and our freedance. When we won the gold at North Atlantics we knew we were ready!
Do you still train free style?
I still train in free style with my coaches Philip Dulebon, Jonathan Hunt, Ron Ludington and Priscilla Hill (Johnny Weir’s coach). Mr. Ludington says I may be ready to compete intermediate free style this year!
How does training in Ice Dancing differ from free style and pairs?
We both skated free style before we did dance and pairs. The biggest difference for us was the compulsories. It took a lot of concentration and long hours of practice repeating the patterns until we got them just right. I competed the juvenile compulsory dances last year, but they were new to Ashley who never danced before. She learned them very quickly though. I like the fast footwork and freedance best.
Katie & Duke
Walk us through your tryout process with Duke.
In 2001, Duke and I were training at the same rink with different coaches, but did not really know each other very well. Early in 2002, we went to the Partner Search tryouts at Nationals in California. After we skated with just about everyone there, we spent some time together, without the coaches, skating and getting to know each other. When our parents and coaches saw us on the ice for the first time they were surprised to see how well we matched in style and timing. We had such a good time we decided to give it a try. So far we have medaled in almost every novice event we’ve entered, and a few junior events too.
What are your goals for this season and beyond?
At the time I am writing this, Duke and I are hard at work preparing for Nationals. Our goal is to medal there and be chosen to represent the USA at upcoming international competitions. We were part of Team USA at NACS, Thunderbay, Ontario Canada earlier this year and loved the experience. It’s exciting to represent the USA. This year we will begin competing at the Junior level, with our eye on the 2010 Olympics.
What is it like for you to work with Angelica, Oleg and Ron Ludington?
We have the best team of coaches. And we all have such a good time together too. Our head coach Andrew Newberry, who trained along side of Torville & Dean, coordinates our training. He choreographed our freedance and is a perfectionist about compulsories. Angelica and Oleg have such a wonderful sense of style, showmanship and attention to detail. They have contributed so much to our “look” on the ice. Mr. Ludington has been our family’s skating mentor for many years now. (How many Olympic teams has he trained over the years?) It’s inspiring to work with coaches like these, while skating on the same ice as teams like Lubecheva & Averbuche, Scott & Dulebon, and Don & Hunt.
You have different coaches from your brother.
Actually, Dean and I share most of our coaches. Although Dean’s head dance coaches are Karen and Ron Ludington, Angelica choreographed his current freedance with Oleg working compulsories. We have both spent time with Christie Moxley and Alexandr Kirsanov for our compulsories too.
Both partnerships were formed this year and have achieved successful results, to what do you attribute your success?
A combination of hard work and great coaching. Katie and I have worked on our own individual skating skills trying to be the best skaters we can be. We set our goals at the beginning of each season and do our best to meet them.
Dean and I were both lucky enough to find partners who complimented our styles of skating, had similar fun-loving personalities but who also knew how to put in the hours to be able to be successful competitors. Our teams have good times together both on and off the ice, I think that’s the secret!
What is it like to have a sibling who is also an ice dancer?
It’s been great. Our mom first took us skating with her when I was 3 and Dean was 2. Because we were so young, Mom kept us both with her on the ice at the same time. We grew up together on the ice and have been together ever since. I don’t know any other brother and sister who have as much in common, as far as goals and experiences are concerned. That’s one of the reasons we get along so well. We encourage each other at practice and cheer for each other at competitions. I think this is also why we get along with our dance partners so well.
Has your training in the martial arts benefited your skating? If so, how?
I started Tang Soo Do not long after moving to Delaware for Katie’s training (before that time I was still playing ice hockey back home). It was great for balance, flexibility, strength and focus, what every skater needs. Katie and I brought home many trophies in sparring, weapons and forms from competitions up through the Red Belt lev