Article By Melanie Hoyt

bourne2008Although she has made some changes this year, 2003 world champion Shae-Lynn Bourne is still considers herself to be a performer first. Since December, however, Bourne has taken a larger, more official role in the coaching of Canadian ice dance silver medalists Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje.

“I’ve been involved with them since they started [together], in a small way” Bourne explained. “Nothing’s really changed, except that I’m more involved than before.”

Weaver & Poje list both Bourne and Mathew Gates as their coaches and have been splitting time between Toronto, where Bourne lives now, and New Jersey, where Gates is based. Bourne is hesitant to place a label on the type of interaction that she has with the young team. She defines a head coach as someone who can be with her students all the time, and Bourne is not ready to commit to that yet.

“I wouldn’t be in that role [as a head coach], because I do love to perform, and I can’t do that forever,” she said.

Despite her reluctance to become a primary coach for the couple, Bourne has certainly been involved with Weaver & Poje’s success in the latter half of this season. After re-working their original dance with Bourne and David Wilson, Weaver & Poje finished second at the 2008 BMO Canadian Figure Skating Championships and a solid fifth at the 2008 Four Continents Championships a month later. Bourne is traveling with them to Göteborg, Sweden for the World Figure Skating Championships.

Bourne has also been carving her niche in the world of choreography, particularly for show programs. Most of her solo programs in the past four years were self-choreographed, and she has done programs this year for Joannie Rochette, Shizuka Arakawa, Kurt Browning, and Ekaterina Gordeeva.

Nevertheless, it’s still performing for an audience and for her loyal fans that is Bourne’s top priority right now. Forging a new path as a solo dancer, Bourne is thankful for the way that her fans have encouraged and embraced her new career without former partner Victor Kraatz. In the four years since her début as a soloist on the Celebration on Ice tour in February 2004, she has performed throughout North America and Europe, and she participated this season in her first shows in Japan. She knows that without such a positive response from skating fans, she would not have had these opportunities.

“Maybe it helps other people realize that you don’t have to stop,” Bourne said of the kind of skating that she is doing. “It’s unusual, something different. I just want to keep pushing myself to be creative.”

Of course, loyal fans are still waiting for one thing. Rumors of a reunion with Kraatz have been flying for over a year, but aside from a short series of moves on the ice together during the Parade of Champions at the 2008 Canadian National Championships, the rumors have yet to be substantiated.

“Yes, there’s a good possibility that we will be performing,” Bourne said, acknowledging the rumors. “I can’t say what and I can’t make any promises, but I definitely would say that there’s a good chance that we will do something.”

For many Bourne & Kraatz fans, that is more than enough reason to continue hoping.