int-buckbondAustralian ice dancers Natalie Buck and Trent Nelson-Bond were 4 and 7, respectively, when they started skating. When Nelson-Bond and then partner Danielle Rigg-Smith split after 3 seasons, he approached singles skater Natalie Buck to team up. Although she had no experience at dance, they forged ahead and last season just missed the cut for the free dance at the 2003 World Championships in Washington, DC, finishing in 25th place. Buck and Nelson-Bond have moved from their native Australia to Connecticut to train with coach Natalia Dubova.


Trent and Natalie, why did you decide that relocating was the best option for you?
Natalie: Our aim is to be the best skaters we can possibly be, and although Australia is a beautiful country it is not a country which is focused on winter sports. We don’t have the facilities like they do overseas and we wanted to go somewhere were we could really focus and concentrate on our skating.

Trent: We also thought that by leaving our country, we could show that we are really wanting to do this training and are serious about doing this together.

Why did you choose Natalia Dubova as your new coach?
Natalie: We met Natalia at a competition one year and she took an interest in us. She asked us to come over and train with her. It took a while after that, but we eventually got there. She is a fantastic coach, world renowned for her technicality. We love training with her. She is teaching us a whole new way to skate.

Trent: Natalia and her husband are very nice people and set us up with everything that we would need to be able stay here.

It must be very difficult to be away from your families. How do you cope with the separation and how do you keep in touch with them?
Natalie: It does get hard. It’s not like they are on the other side of the country, they are half way around the world! Thank goodness for email though. I chat to my parents and my sister over the internet most weeks and we phone each other now and then. Some months are harder than others but its all worth it in the end. It’s such a great opportunity to be here. I wouldn’t pass it up for anything.

Trent: For me, the separation with the friends and family is one that most people have to deal with in there life at one point or another. The internet is such a great thing as that is the main way and of course on the phone or by snail mail. It’s just one of the sacrifices that you have to make.

Do you have any messages that you’d like to send to them via this interview?
Natalie: Just a huge THANK YOU to my parents! They would probably sell their souls for me to achieve my dreams. I know I am a huge financial burden on them but I appreciate every single thing they do for me. I wouldn’t be skating if it wasn’t for them.

Trent: To my family, foxglove and my grandfather, a wonderful thank you as without them I would not be here today living my dream.

How is training here in the US different for you than in Australia?
Natalie: When we were in Australia we had a lot of things on our plate. We had many other things in our life that we also had to focus on, which obviously took our focus off our skating. Trent had a full time job while I was doing a full time bachelor of Marine Science at university, along with a part time job on top of that. Australia also doesn’t have the facilities like they do here in America. Our ice rinks are there for the public and so if we wanted to train we had to be on the ice by 5am, which obviously meant waking up at 4am. Here in America we can wake up at normal hours of the morning and skate as much as we want. We are here to skate and so our lives reflect that I guess. The time we used to spend at university and at work is now being spent on the ice, so that’s a head start already.

Trent: Training in the states is different to home as here we are solely focussing on our training while at home we had two seperate lives – on and off the ice. We are doing almost double the hours that we were at home and more quality skating as well. We also train with some of the best in the world as at home there really isn’t anyone to help bring your level up.

What are the things you miss the most in your hometowns (besides your families)?
Natalie:
I miss everything, my family, going to university, hanging out with my friends. It is actually a really bad time for me to be away. All my closest friends are getting married and I am over here missing it all. It’s horrible; I just want to be in two places at once.

Trent: The things that I miss most in my home town is my family and friends, going to work and having a surf. But, I can do that when I finish skating as much as I want so I don’t try to think about it to much.

You were very close to making the final cut for the free dance at 2003 Worlds in Washington DC. What steps are you taking in your training this season to move up in the standings?
Natalie:
Yes, we were pretty excited at our result. It was our best so far. It was nice to see that all our hard work had gained us a few places from last season. We are hoping that training here in America will help us even more. For a start we have already doubled our training time on the ice and our off ice conditioning. We are slowly adapting Natalia’s technique to all our compulsory dances and our skating in general. Natalia has also choreographed our new OD this year. It is a lot more technical than last years.

Trent: This year to improve, we are working on the same formula that we were last year and that is to learn a good solid skating style, get the programmes and polish them right up and get our cardiovascular right up there. We’re planning to go to more European comps so that we can be seen as well and show that we are committed.

Natalie, you have also competed at nationals in singles. Are you still working on singles or are you focused solely on dance?
Natalie: I haven’t free skated since I have been dancing. I just don’t have the time to do both. I love ice dancing. It is a new found passion. It’s funny though, because I absolutely hated it when I was little. So many people tried to get me to dance and wouldn’t do it. How could ice skating be fun without the spins and the jumps?

Trent: Natalie does want to do a secret session one day just to see if she can still do it.

How are you spending your off ice time?
Natalie:
Skating takes up all of our time during the week. If we are not on the ice we are at the gym and if we are not at the gym we are off ice training somewhere. We like to keep the weekends to ourselves. Maybe when the season picks up a bit we will use the weekends to train as well, but at the moment it gives us a good chance to relax and recuperate for the week to come. Everyone needs time to themselves, otherwise you just go insane.

Trent: I normally help out the family that we are staying with as they need lots of help around the house and not much but enough to unwind i guess.

How do you feel about the swing rhythms for next seasons original dance?
Natalie: I love it! I am really looking forward to see what everyone comes up with. It is quite a broad range, so there are so many possibilities. I love this era of music. We are having a great time putting our OD together at the moment.

Trent: I love the idea of the swing rhythms this year as that is one of my favorite types of music. I really am having some much fun with the programmes as I think that I can really get into them.

What advice would you give to younger ice dancers in your country and here in the US that could help them understand the demands of the sport, but also encourage them to focus on dance as a skating discipline?
Natalie: Just from my personal experience…Give it a go before you dismiss the idea of Ice Dancing. I was a free skater for 15 years before I discovered Ice Dancing and gave it a go. Now I wish I had tried it earlier. I am not going to tell you that a life of skating is easy because its not, but if you love what you are doing then all the sacrifices that you make all seem worth it. When you are standing at a World Championship event, amongst skaters that you have been watching on TV for most of your life and you have to prick yourself to make sure it isn’t a dream…its then that all those 4am wake up calls to go training seem worth it!

Trent: The best advice that I can give to younger dances is to enjoy their skating. It is what you have chosen to do as fun, so let it be just that. Every situation is different but, never ever give up on a goal as you can be anything that you want to put your mind too.

Before we finish the interview, is there anything more you’d like to add?
Trent: There are so many people that have helped us out tremendously including Anne-Zoe Heiss and her husband, George Knakal, Jeff and Jan Thorn and also Chew who has spent so many tedious hours working on our web site. The Cox family has been wonderful and looked after us in Connecticut. Our training rinks, Canterbury Ice in Australia and now Stamford Twin Rinks and Champions Skating Center in Connecticut have been excellent. The NSW and Australian assosciations and the Sydney Figure Skating Club have been incredible as well. Photographer J. Barry Mittan has done so much for us also and thanks to Don Klingbiel for our beautiful skating boots and Toni Bonnici, my tailor.

We must thank most of all our family and friends in Australia and Natalia Dubova and her husband, Semione, for coaching us and lastly, a special thank you to everyone else who has helped us out to make our dream come true!