by Anne Calder | Photos by Daphne Backman & Robin Ritoss
“Compared to singles, what I love about ice dance is having someone there for you all the time.” ~ Haley Sales
Haley Sales & Nikolas Wamsteeker are one of the eight senior ice dance teams competing in Saint John, New Brunswick at the 2019 Canadian National Skating Championships.
Sales will be returning to New Brunswick, where she won the Novice Ladies bronze medal at the 2012 Canadians in Moncton prior to switching to dance and teaming up with Wamsteeker.
Wamsteeker, on the other hand, had two previous partners. He and Jessica Jiang were the 2011 Canadian pre-novice champions, but missed the event in 2012 due to injury. After sitting out a year of competition, he teamed up with Jazlyn Tabachniuk. They were sixth in novice in 2014 before ending their partnership after the Championships in Ottawa, ON.
Two months later Sales & Wamsteeker became partners under the direction of Megan Wing and Aaron Lowe in Burnaby, BC. In September 2015, they finished sixth at the JGP of Austria.
The team moved up to seniors in 2016 and competed the past two seasons at the Lake Placid Ice Dance International as well as ISU Challenger Series events including 2016 Autumn Classic and 2017 Nebelhorn Trophy. They made their Grand Prix debut at 2018 Skate Canada.
Sales & Wamsteeker shared their thoughts with ice-dance.com.
September 2018 – US International Figure Skating Classic – SLC
IDC: What are your goals for this season?
NW: Now that some of the greats have retired, it gives us an opportunity to step out of the shadows of other skaters and establish our own identity.
HS: Moving up the ranks is our #1 goal – and also maturing as a team
IDC: What is your next event?
HS/NW: Our next event is Skate Canada International in Montreal. This will be our first Grand Prix, so there will be challenges. We are very excited. It will be on home turf, which will be awesome.
October 2018 – Skate Canada International – Laval, QC (after RD)
IDC: What was it like when you stepped out on the ice at your first Grand Prix?
HS: It was very exciting. The last couple of days we may have been a bit nervous, but we checked those nerves today. We were just very excited and fresh and ready to go.
NW: It exceeded all expectations. It’s a great event.
IDC: What did you do between Salt Lake and Montreal to better your programs?
HS: We’ve been working on a lot of flow from elements and connecting with each another.
NW: Drilling our key points is a big one. They still need lots of work, but they’re getting there.
HS: We got a new season’s best, so we’re slowly getting better.
IDC: Have you ever done the Tango Romantica before this year?
HS: Absolutely not. We’ve never skated tango together – not any tango.
NW: We had never even heard of it.
HS: It’s been an adventure. It’s very beautiful, but very difficult.
IDC: What did you do to help you learn the Tango Romantica?
NW: We went to tango teachers from Argentina. They were very helpful with the character. Another woman helped with the performance aspect. Otherwise, it’s just drilling it over and over again.
IDC: Did you make any changes in your free dance? I know you were not happy in SLC.
HS: There were a few things level wise at SLC that we weren’t prepared for, so it was disappointing, but a lot of fire came from that for us.
NW: We stripped it down a little bit and kind of rebuilt it, but kept the music and worked on the flow and connections to get those levels.
HS: We’ve been training hard, so we’re excited for tomorrow to see it all laid out.
January 2019, Internet Q&A
IDC: Both your levels and GOEs increased at the Skate Canada Challenge, especially your step sequences. What specifically have you done to make this happen? What about the TR levels?
HS/NW: After our first few outings, we’d achieved a good familiarity with the programs, and how we wanted to refine them. The footwork and the pattern dance are like the skeleton of the program and are never a bad place to give some tender love and care to. With the help of our coaches we really honed in and trained them with the mindset of not only being able to get them right at competition, but more so not being able to get them wrong.
IDC: What do you want the fans in St. John to note about your skating since the last Nationals in Vancouver?
HS/NW: In Saint John this year, it’s important to us that we draw the audience in with our performances. We want our viewers to see how fresh we are, and how very excited we are to be there. We want to show what we are capable of doing (what we do) in practice, at the competition. We feel like we’ve had a lot of growth this season and want to be able to show that to the audience and envelop them in our journey. We want to do what all performers want to do and give the audience something that will help transport them into our world!
IDC: What are you the most excited about at this year’s Nationals?
HS/NW: Nationals this year will be exciting! It’s the beginning of a new chapter and a new quad. This first Nationals is a wonderful platform for us to experiment and grow, to try new things and refine our styling. It’s rejuvenating and invigorating really!
IDC: How did you happen to work with Mathew Gates for your FD choreography?
HS/NW: Our coaches have some history with Matthew, and being fond of his work, he was a natural choice when we decided early on in the season to try having a free program choreographed by an outside source. He gave us a chance to try something new, and we had a great time in the south. Mathew couldn’t have been more helpful, and his methods were very comfortable and productive for us. He really has given us a program that we’ve been able to grow with throughout the season.