After the conclusion of the 2015 U.S. National Championships, both Danielle Thomas and Daniel Eaton found themselves in similar situations. Eaton and partner Alexandra Aldridge called an end to their five-year partnership shortly after their sixth-place finish in Greensboro.
“Alex Aldridge and I had a great five years together,” Eaton said. “The opportunities that we were given will always be remembered and [are] special to me. Alex and I slowly began to grow apart as partners, which caused us to come to a mutual decision to end our partnership.”
Thomas, who had recently completed her second season with Alexander Martin, was also partnerless after the two decided they were on different paths with regard to achieving their goals.
“Alex Martin and I decided to end our partnership shortly after Nationals,” Thomas said. “We had a nice experience together through novice and junior, and I am thankful for our partnership over the years. We ended our partnership on a good note.”
Both Thomas and Eaton trained at the Detroit Skating Club [DSC] while with their previous partners, and although Eaton moved to the Artic Edge Ice Arena in Canton, Mich., last year, he & Thomas credit their experiences at the DSC with preparing them for their new partnership together.
“Danielle and I were practically raised by the same coaches back in our previous skating careers,” Eaton said. “We both learned the basic fundamentals of ice dance from Anjelika Krylova, Pasquale Camerlengo, Massimo Scali, and Natalia Annenko. Both of us learned our edge quality and moves in the field from Tracy Sheppard at Detroit Skating Club. It was Tracy that actually helped the two of us get together for our tryout.”
The duo felt an instant connection when they first took the ice at their tryout.
“Danielle and I had an emotional attachment with one another from our first steps on the ice together,” Eaton said. “Creating that connection is one of the hardest feats to overcome with a new partnership, and we truly share something special.”
“From the very moment we stepped on the ice, I knew it was the beginning of a great partnership,” Thomas added. “We immediately had a connection that brought out the best in our abilities.”
Neither Thomas or Eaton is afraid of the hard work that lies ahead. Thomas only has one year of junior level ice dance experience and has not yet competed internationally. She needs to pass her USFS senior dance tests by September 1, in addition to preparing for the international opportunities that are likely to come with her new partner’s level of experience.
“Although going to senior is a big jump for me, I feel that I am ready to take on this amazing opportunity with Daniel and work to become the best in the world someday,” Thomas said. “I really respect and admire Daniel’s work ethic and talent, and I feel that he will give me the support and encouragement to help me overcome any obstacles that we may face along the way. We both bring different skills to the partnership that we can learn from and grow upon.”
“Of course, with any new team, there will be obstacles to overcome,” Eaton added. “Although the leap to senior is not only demanding and tough, I feel that we are ready to be on the stage that the two of us belong to be on. We are really looking forward to the next few Olympic cycles together and [we are] excited to build and develop our skills for the next decade.”
Thomas has joined Eaton in Canton, and the team is currently working 6-7 hours per day in preparation for the upcoming season. They are training under Marina Zoueva and her team of coaches, including Johnny Johns, Massimo Scali, and Oleg Epstein.
“I couldn’t be more excited about my partnership with Daniel,” Thomas said. “I feel that we both have the same goals, work ethic, and passion for skating that will keep us motivated on a daily basis.”
“Danielle and I have the same mentality towards skating. We are both perfectionists, [and] if something doesn’t feel right, we will work on our craft until it’s perfect,” Eaton added. “My new partnership with Danielle presents many different wonderful opportunities that I am really looking forward to. This is a new chapter to my skating career.”