With partner Eve Chalom, Mathew Gates was a two-time US National silver medallist and competed at the 1997 and 1999 World Championships. He briefly returned to the eligible competitive scene in the 2002-2003 season with Emilie Nussear, finishing 5th at US Nationals.
In Newington, Connecticut, Gates coaches Kaitlyn Weaver and Charles Clavey, a novice team who recently won the free dance portion of the Lake Placid ice dancing championships. He recently took some time to answer a few questions from ice-dance.com about his coaching pursuits and other experiences.
Mathew, awhile back you had worked on choreography with Michael Weiss. Have you created other programs for singles skaters? Are you interested in doing more singles choreography?
I did some choreography for Michael, but it was more focused towards the footwork sections of his programs. I also worked on his basic skating for a month or so. I would have liked to continue developing his style but took the Dance directorship in Dallas. I’ve been interested in doing other choreography as it’s one of my many passions but I’ve put more focus on developing Kaitlyn and Charles. I’ve recently done a senior long Pair program for a new team taught by Natalia Mishkatunok. I think the team is going to be representing Azerbaijan. I really enjoyed that and I hope to do more in the future.
What are the challenges for choreographing for singles as opposed to dance?
I don’t think there is too much difference between singles and dance choreography these days. The way I create programs is much the same for singles, pairs or dance.
You were with Shpilband back when the Detroit FSC had the top four or five dance teams in the country, and later worked with Tarasova when she had several teams as well. When you were in Texas, it was a smaller program. Which training atmosphere do you prefer?
When I lived in Detroit I didn’t know any different so I always wanted to train alone and have all the attention from the coach. After moving to Dallas I realized that it’s really important to train with other teams or at least have other competitive teams around, but I do think there are exceptions. Although I liked having the sole attention from a coach I found myself wanting a competitive environment that I had for so many previous years. Sometimes you don’t know when situations are good unless you’re in a place where you can tell the difference. I relished the idea of training with other teams again when I re-enstated. The daily rivalry was truly fun and brought a new vigor in my thought process. I think if Eve and I had moved to Tarasova it could have been a completely different story. I’m happy to have gone back to skating to confirm what I had believed for the previous two years about what kind of training situation works best. I wish I had done it in my prime, but I learned so much from my experience I feel I have so much more to offer than before.
Tell us about Kaitlyn Weaver & Charles Clavey?
Kaitlyn and Charles came to me a couple seasons ago driving up from Houston to Dallas on weekends. When I decided to get back into skating they felt they had no other option but to follow to Hartford, Connecticut. They are so well matched physically — they’re often mistaken for a brother and sister team. They work hard and have a good temperament, which is key to staying together and working in the system. They’ve improved from day one and have now started to develop the skills needed to be competitive. I’ve really enjoyed training and coaching them.
Are you coaching other teams in Newington as well?
I’m only teaching one team at the moment. I’ve been teaching at other rinks Katonah, Cromwell and Simsbury.
If you were offered a few hundred thousand dollars and asked you to put together a skating show, what kind of show would you put together?
I’ve been teaching a little with Eve lately and have discovered that we work well together in a teaching environment. Like in skating I feel we complement each other in coaching, choreography. So, I would hire Eve for a start. I would love to do a show like Kurt Browning’s Singing in the Rain T.V special. That is one of the most amazing things ever done on ice in my opinion. I would do it exactly like what Kurt did but along those creative lines. I guess it would be more like Ice Theatre with a cast of my choice. Iceskating is such a unique sport/art/dance. It encompasses so much and has so many dimensions — the possibilities are exciting and endless.