by Daphne Backman | On Ice Photos by Daphne Backman & Katie Weigel
Juliette & Lucas Shadid are siblings from California who train in Alisa Viejo, California with coaches Christine Fowler-Binder and Vitaliy Novikov. They are the 2015 U.S. juvenile bronze medalists and have moved up to the intermediate level for this season. Juliette & Lucas are the youngest of five children and started skating at the ages of 6 and 7, respectively.
IDC: How were you each introduced to skating and, particularly, ice dance?
Juliette: I loved watching figure skating at the 2010 Olympics. I asked for lessons, but my mom said no. She is from Canada, and she kept saying “I’ve spent enough time in cold hockey rinks. I live in California to stay warm!” A few months later, it was career day, and my friend Olivia Oppegard’s mom, who is Michelle Kwan’s sister and a skating coach, came to talk to our class. Mrs. Oppegard brought in one of Michelle’s dresses, and she let all the kids touch the dress. The minute I got to touch that dress I knew I had to skate. I went home and DEMANDED and begged and bugged for lessons, so of course my mom couldn’t say no
Lucas: My mom put me in a learn to skate class with my sister because I had to go to the rink with her when she would take Juliette, and so she figured it was better than me sitting in the stands playing video games on my Gameboy. One of my friends from school did the class with me, but after a while, he wanted to play hockey while I wanted to continue with figure skating.
Juliette: We would stand in the corner during our learn-to-skate classes and fool around, trying to figure out how to spin and stuff. One of the coaches suggested that we could skate as a team, so we started learning basic stroking together.
Lucas: I never really wanted to skate without Juliette. Early on she did a local ISI competition by herself and I was so jealous of the medal she got! Plus, we just really got along well and skating with her was fun. My parents knew that Juliette and I would be tall since we have 3 fairly tall older siblings, so a neighbor who had her daughter in figure skating advised us not to go into pairs skating and instead go into ice dance. It was great advice!
IDC: What is the best thing about having a sibling who is a skater?
Juliette: We do not have to change our schedules if we are going to meet for off-ice or lift practice, because we can just do it at home. We do lift practice in the backyard, we can go for smoothies together after ballet, and we can talk about how the day went on the car ride home.
Lucas: The best part is being with your sibling every day so that you have more opportunities to practice off-ice training together, and really being able to know your partner. We have no secrets. I know her strengths and weaknesses, and she knows mine, so we can help each other.
IDC: Is there anything that is difficult about skating with your brother/sister?
Juliette: No not really, we do argue from time to time, but that is very rare. We’re very close and he is one of my best friends. Even off the ice we have fun together.
Lucas: It doesn’t happen very much, but sometimes we do get tired of each other because we spend most of our day together. We are lucky though, because we’re the youngest in a family of five kids, so it’s easy for the family to make sure that we spend some quality time apart from each other. Sometimes I’ll work out with my brothers and Juliette will work out with our sister, to give us a bit of separation. My older sister will take Juliette to the beach, while I go geo-caching with my brother.
IDC: What do you like most about ice dancing?
Juliette: I love that I get to feel like I’m flying, and that I also get to be close with my brother and really know him. We will be friends forever.
Lucas: What I like most about ice dancing is being able to train with great coaches and people and being able to travel around the country. IDC:
IDC: Tell us what you like most about training in LA and working with your coaches.
Juliette: I love training in California because it is always warm and it is fun to go to the beach, even in the winter. Also, when it is hot, it feels nice to skate in the cold rink. We have lots of skating friends that support us, and our coaches support us too.
Lucas: Training near L.A. is a blessing for us. We have great coaches with lots of experience and lots of teams in our program that we are friends with. We live near the beach and can train on the sand, and be outside a lot. After a cold morning in the rink it’s great to be able to walk outside and warm up!
IDC: What is the best advice that your coach has given you?
Juliette: The best advice she has given us is that what you are as a person is far more important than what you are as an athlete.
Lucas: The best advice we have been given by our coaches is to skate your best and skate for yourselves. Our coach, Christine Fowler-Binder, tells us that it’s more important to be a great person than to be a good athlete. She makes sure that we train hard, but have fun and balance in our lives.
IDC: What has been your favorite skating memory so far?
Juliette: Getting bronze at Nationals last year! I loved how official it all felt, and being on the podium was scary but I felt like a champion. I didn’t think it would happen, so I took my skates off after our free dance, but then a bunch of the girls were yelling at me to get ready for the medal ceremony. I had never tied my own skates before, so 2 girls were helping me tie them. They were loose, and I almost landed on my face when I stepped on the ice, but I was too happy to care.
Lucas: Going to Nationals. We had been told by many people that Nationals was a great experience and lots of fun. I didn’t realize how right they were until we got there. Just skating there was amazing. Getting a high placement and standing on the podium just made it twice as amazing.
IDC: What is a typical training day like?
Juliette: We usually skate 2-3 hours a day, it depends on the day. Then we have Pilates two times a week, and work out 3 times a week. Then we also stretch and have lift practice, and ballet once a week. We usually take the weekends off. If there’s a competition coming up we skate one of the weekend days.
Lucas: We used to train early in the morning and then go back to the rink after school, but two years ago we started homeschooling and that has made a huge difference in our ability to train, study, and still have downtime.
IDC: How do you come up with your programs each season?
Juliette: We usually start with things that are not too romantic, because we’re siblings. Then we choose our top five favorites, put them on CD’s, and give them to the coaches. Then, the coaches decide from there. We like stories and characters, and at least for now we try to stick with happy programs, since those suit our personalities best.
Lucas: Sometimes, we’ll skate a bit to the choices just so that they can see if they like how we move to the music and if it suits us.
IDC: Which program has been your favorite?
Juliette: We have really just started competing, so I would have to say my favorite out of the two would be Oklahoma.
Lucas: My dad is from Oklahoma, so we feel like we are honoring him when we skate to it.
IDC: When you are not skating, how do you like to spend your free time?
Juliette: I love to hang out with my family. I am the youngest of 5 kids, so there are always things to do. My sister Amanda and I love watching movies and going out for lunch, and my brothers and I like to hike and play video games. I also love to play with our pets. We have 2 dogs, 2 bunnies, fish, toads, and even a desert tortoise named Grizelda that is 20 years old! I also like to hang out with my friends at the pool or the beach, and doing crafts like sewing and knitting.
Lucas: I really enjoy going to the beach, mountain biking, geocaching, and hanging out with my brothers.