Laura and Luke Muñana are a brother/sister ice dance team now competing for Mexico. Both began their skating careers at the roller rink rather than on the ice.
When did you start skating and how long have you been ice dancing?
Laura: I started ice-skating at 13 years old. Prior to that I had been roller-skating competitively since the age of 5.
Luke: I was 15 years old when I started ice-skating and 8 years old when I started roller-skating.
Both: Roller-skating started as a fun activity, and then we began competing in freestyle, pairs, dance and figures. When we made the switch to ice, we began with freestyle and soon included pairs and dance. It was not too hard to pick up since we had a lot of experience in dance and pairs with roller-skating. It was mostly the technique that needed the greater focus.
Why did you decide to focus on ice dancing and also to skate together?
We decided to focus only on competing in ice-dance in the fall of 1997, even though we enjoyed lifts and throws in pairs skating. It was the creativity and expression of ice-dance that intrigued us the most.
You recently moved to San Jose, California, to train with Marina Klimova and Sergei Ponomarenko, tell us why?
We had been under the direction of Peter Sasmore since 1995. We had a very close relationship with Peter; he helped to define our dancing technique. Following the 2004 Nationals, we decided a change in our training habits, along with hard work, would best show our capabilities. Since our change in June to Sergei and Marina, we have already seen further development, which excites us about our future. We are still good friends with Peter and he only wishes the best for us.
What do you like most about training in San Jose?
The disciplined regiment under the guidance of Sergei and Marina is what has developed a stronger passion for our training. That passion is what keeps us most excited about training in San Jose.
Which events are you planning to compete in this season? What are your goals?
We have recently obtained dual citizenship with Mexico. Our father was born there, which opened the doors for us. Therefore, we are planning on skating at the Mexico National Championships in November and hope to compete at Four Continents in February 2005. We are taking one step at a time. We really want to enter the International world of skating and skate stronger than ever before. For our future, we hope to compete at the World and Olympic levels, working our way to the top, for many years to come.
When you are not skating, how do you like to spend your time?
Laura: Music is another passion of mine. I teach private music instruction in my home music studio. I play piano and flute, and I sing. My other job is playing piano as a church accompanist. I like to write music and spend time recording. I love to go salsa dancing and listen to live bands. In the summer, I love wake boarding and wake skating. I have been taking some time off school (since receiving my AA in music) but plan to go back next year to earn a BA degree in Jazz Vocal Performance.
Luke: When I am not training I am usually on the ice coaching. I really enjoy having a job where I can teach what I’ve learned and watch my student’s progress. I also enjoy all kinds of extreme sports such as in-line skating, skate boarding, surfing, and snow boarding. With my free time I enjoy going to the movies, dance clubs and shopping.
What are your future goals off the ice?
Laura: Along with completing my education, I would like to continue my teaching career in music, and most of all I would like to record my own music either as a solo album or with other artists.
Luke: After my competitive career I will continue coaching and skating as a professional. I would also like to have the opportunity to travel the world for recreation.
Which skaters or dancers do you look up to?
Laura: I really admire our coaches, Sergei and Marina. Their creativity and technical strength really amazes me. When I first started ice dance, the skating of Elizabeth Punsalan and Jerod Swallow inspired me.
Luke: I also look up our coaches; they have achieved everything that I would like to accomplish.
What do you like best about skating with each other?
Laura: Luke and I have been through so much together that we have a very close relationship. Over the years, we have developed a lot of trust, and I know I don’t trust anyone as much as I trust my brother. Whenever he has a crazy idea for a new lift we are trying, I know I can trust him more than anything. I also think it is great how we can sense how the other is going to move. We don’t really have to work hard on this aspect of our ice dancing, and I really like that.
Luke: The best part of skating with my Sister is the amount of trust that we have for one another. From all of our experiences together we really know how to overcome hardships no matter how small or large they might be. We really understand each other and I can’t imagine skating with anyone else.