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Interview with US Pairs Silver Medalists Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig
July 23, 2011 - Christie Sausa
It has been an interesting year for US National Pairs Silver Medalists and Olympians Amanda Evora and Mark Ladwig. The pair found themselves making obvious improvements, placing second in the National Championships, and even representing the United States in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
“We’ve had a lot of ups and downs this past season”, said Ladwig. “We got our first medal on the Grand Prix circuit, a bronze at the Cup of Russia, and were second at Nationals again”.
Last year, Evora and Ladwig placed second in the National Championships, but they have noticed improvement in the points this year. The International Judging system ranks skaters not on the former “6.0” basis, but on certain point values for each move, along with pluses and minuses determining how well the element was performed. It is a bit more confusing for the casual skating fan to understand, but this relatively new system allows the skaters to quantitatively measure their improvement from competition to competition.
“We were happy to notice that our point totals were much higher this year, and the margin was much closer to first than last year”, explained Evora.
Indeed, the National Championships were just the beginning; Evora and Ladwig outskated the favorites for Vancouver, Keana McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker. McLaughlin and Brubaker’s expected Olympic qualification was hyped quite a bit going into Nationals; after a shaky short program; however, their chances were slim. This left a spot for another pairs team, and Evora and Ladwig earned that spot, along with US Champions Caydee Denny and Jeremy Barrett.
Evora and Ladwig enjoyed the Olympic experience, especially the interaction with the other athletes.
“It was cool to sit down and eat dinner with all the athletes from different countries and sports”, Ladwig remarked. “There was the same attitude and focus in all of them”.
Many dream of athletic stardom, but few know the work it entails. Evora and Ladwig describe their training as a “full time job”; that is an appropriate description.
“We’re at the rink every day, Monday through Friday, from about 8:30 am until 3:30 pm”, said Ladwig. “We do off ice exercises as well, to help with our training”.
One favorite off ice training tool is Pilates, the exercise method prized by celebrities like Madonna and figure skaters Johnny Weir and Kristi Yamaguchi.
“Recently we started practicing some advanced Pilates exercises,” says Ladwig. “I consider myself to be in pretty good shape, but it’s a great workout, no matter how fit you are”.
The pair train in Ellenton, Florida. Few would consider Florida an ideal training location for figure skaters, but with the addition of state of the art rinks and premier coaching, it seems to be a new hotbed for skating. An added bonus is that it is only a few miles from the beach...if you have the time, that is.
“I know there is a beach out there somewhere”, joked Ladwig. “We just don’t have much time to go there”.
Lake Placid is indeed a change from Florida (although there is a Lake Placid in Florida also), but Evora and Ladwig, like most skaters, appreciate its unique offerings.
“What’s inspiring about Lake Placid, in my opinion, is the history”, commented Evora. “There is a skating heritage here, and there are always events going on, skaters coming here to train and compete; it’s a very exciting atmosphere”. Ladwig enjoys the history as well, and the skaters training in the camp.
“It’s fun to see the kids every year, and see how enthusiastic they are to be here”, said Ladwig.
This past season has been a rocky one for pairs and ice dance; teams have been splitting up at a quick pace, and lately it seems common for skaters to have several skating partners in their career. As such, Evora and Ladwig consider their longevity something that sets them apart from their competitors.
“We’ve been skating together for 10 seasons, so we consider that a strength”, said Evora. “A lot of teams have been splitting up lately, but we’ve been together for a long time, and have been building our skating slowly”.
Evora and Ladwig are training hard for the upcoming season, and aim to finally capture the US title.
“We’d like to win Nationals this year”, stated Ladwig. “We feel ready”.
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Evora and Ladwig performing their "Pocahontas" themed show program at the Saturday Night Ice Show