Gregory & Petukhov now train in Newington, Connecticut, under coach Nikolai Morozov. They repeated as bronze medallists at 2003 US Nationals.
Melissa and Denis (photo © Emma Abraham) began skating together in fall 2000. In February 2001, they were married. In January 2002, they celebrated a bronze medal at their first US Nationals. They are the first participants in the “Getting to know” interviews created to introduce newer and younger dance couples to ice dancing fans.
Take us through the process when you decided to skate together?
Denis put a posting on a message board and I answered it. He wrote back and we started communicating through a liason who helped bring him to the United States. He was supposed to go to another tryout but as you can see he never made it. We don’t know how other partnerships form but ours felt right from the beginning. We agreed on music from the beginning. We are very similiar in our thinking (We can go to the store separately and come back with the same things) so picking music was not difficult.
What were you expecting from your first competitive season?
We both didn’t know what to expect at our first Nationals together. Of course we just wanted to skate our best. We try not to think of placements, we just want to show each time we go out to skate that we have improved. The rest is out of our hands.
What about your longterm goals?
Now that we are married, we have long term goals to keep skating, entertain the public and improve with each outing. In order to make the World/Olympic team we must continue to improve with a lot of hard work and dedication to our sport.
What do you think it takes to become a memorable ice dance team?
To be great you must stay focused, work hard and have a lot of support from those around you. If you have those ingredients you can do anything.
What would you think if vocals were eliminated from the free dance?
We think that they should stay because it gives dancers more freedom to express themselves and it lends to more variety of programs. It is easier to skate to instrumental music. You just can pick one style of expression and go with it in instrumentals, but if you have words you must interpret what the words mean and that tells more of a story and shows more connection between the two of you.