by Cara Zanella | Photos courtesy Yura Min & Alex Gamelin
In April 2015, U.S. senior ice dancer, Alexander Gamelin, thought his amateur skating career was over. After 15 years of chasing the dream of representing the United States at Worlds and the Olympics, tough financial times forced Gamelin, 21, and his twin sister, Danielle, to retire from competitive skating.
“We could no longer invest the resources needed to support two figure skaters in one family,” Gamelin said. “It was a heartbreaking decision.”
But all was not lost. A few months later, Gamelin’s good friend, Yura Min, 20, who ended her brief partnership with Timothy Koleto in October 2014, nonchalantly suggested that the two team up. One month later, the team of Min & Gamelin took to the ice to begin a new journey together.
“After only the first few weeks, we found a natural connection, and are really excited to start competing internationally this fall representing Yura’s home country of South Korea,” Gamelin said.
Min, who was born in the U.S. and has dual citizenship (Korea), started skating when she was six years old and Gamelin began skating at seven. Min started out treating skating as just a hobby. The hobby quickly turned into a passion when she turned eight. At that point, Min decided to focus on single’s skating career.
“I did singles until I was 14 not realizing that dance even existed,” Min said. “However, I tried skating with another person and loved it! I did singles and dance for a while, but decided I loved dance a lot more.”
Gamelin was introduced to the ice when he attended a skating party with his sister.
“I had been trying a lot of sports like baseball, basketball, and soccer, but nothing was really clicking,” said Gamelin. “Since Danielle loved skating so much, our parents decided to bring us both to skate again and I fell in love with it.”
The Gamelins moved from Merrick, New York to Newark, Delaware and then Wheaton, Maryland before settling in Novi, Michigan to train with Coach Igor Shpilband and his team last year. That is where Gamelin first met Min, who was also training under Shpilband.
“Alex and I become instant friends,” Min remembered.
The team is hoping that their friendship coupled with their connection to the ice and each other will help them be successful with the 2015-16 competitive season. They will continue to train under
Shpilband in Novi, Michigan. Their training team consists of ice dance coaches Shpilband, Greg Zuerlein, Fabian Bourzat, and Adrienne Lenda; ballroom instructors Steven and Susan McFerran; ballet mistress Veronique Breen, physical acting coach Michael Lee; strength and conditioning coach Aaron Stickel, and lifting coach Oleg Ouchakov, who is also an acrobat with Cirque du Soleil.
For their inaugural season, their short dance will be skated to selections from Cirque du Soleil and their free dance will be choreographed to a Beatles medley.
“We feel that both programs reflect our fun-loving personalities and our relationship,” said Min.
The team made their competitive debut at Ice Challenge in Graz, Austria, finishing fifth overall.