Bourne glides in varied directions

The ice dancer turned soloist keeps busy all over the world

Five years after winning the world title in ice dance with Victor Kraatz, Shae-Lynn Bourne has a thriving solo performance career.
Five years after winning the world title in ice dance with Victor Kraatz, Shae-Lynn Bourne has a thriving solo performance career. (courtesy of IMG)


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By Lois Elfman, special to
(08/14/2008) - "When I skated competitively, I always said I was grateful for all the lows, because you learn from the lows in life," says 10-time Canadian ice dance champion and 2003 world champion Shae-Lynn Bourne. "Those are the moments that make you question and make you think. I'm grateful for those moments, because they've helped me grow as a person."

Bourne, 32, probably wishes the lows hadn't been quite so far down, but the skater known for her deep edges has found a way to round the curve each time. In 2003, just months after winning the world title they'd sought for a decade, Bourne's partner, Victor Kraatz, decided to end their partnership. More than a few eyebrows were raised when she said she'd skate solo, but five years later she has a thriving performance career.

When reached by, Bourne was just back from two weeks in Japan, where she performed with Olympic gold medalist Shizuka Arakawa in a show called Friends on Ice, for which she also choreographed the finale and performed a duet with Arakawa.

"Honestly, I didn't expect a solo career to go so well," Bourne says. "I've really enjoyed doing it too. I've had a chance to skate with other skaters. For example, last year I got to skate with Kurt Browning in one of the Disson shows. That was something new for the audience. In Shizuka's show, I got to skate with the Olympic champion. The number I choreographed for her last year, she asked if I would skate it with her just to do something a little different in the show. It went over really well.

"I never imagined I'd be doing stuff like this," she adds. "In life, you have changes, but great things come. It's always something new each year. I've been very fortunate."

She has been choreographing exhibition programs for other skaters for several years, but this year Canadian ladies champion Joannie Rochette asked Bourne to create her competitive short program. They used the music "Summertime," to which Bourne previously choreographed a show program.

Another change in Bourne's life was her divorce, but out of that came the decision to start spending more time at home in Canada. While she still owns a condo in Connecticut, a place she called home for nearly a decade, last October she got an apartment in Toronto and started working at the Granite Club alongside old friend Josée Chouinard. Kurt Browning skates there, and choreographer Lori Nichol is also often there.

She took on head coaching duties with Canadian ice dancers Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje. "They've been with me here in Toronto since the worlds," Bourne says. "It's been interesting getting back into coaching."

Over the past couple of years, Bourne and Kraatz have healed their relationship, and they look forward to doing some performances together as the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver approach. "I think it would be nice for the fans, because they didn't get to see much of us after we competed," she says. "It would be a highlight for both of us as well."

Back in the '90s, Bourne and Kraatz fought hard to receive recognition for their athletic style of ice dancing. At times, they seemed the victims of biased judging, most notably at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. So Bourne it unquestionably pleased to see teams like Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir vie for gold at the world championships.

"I feel excited, because I think Victor and I were a part of that process and where it's at now," she says. "It's nice to see so many North American teams up there at the top. It's changed quite a bit results-wise. I'm very excited to see what will happen in Vancouver."

Toronto is a three-hour drive from her mother and brother in Chatham, Ontario, and Bourne is definitely enjoying spending more time with family. She's also dipping her toes in the dating waters.

"I've started dating, but I'm not with anyone in particular," she says. "I'm looking forward to meeting a great person. I haven't yet, not 'the one,' but I'm certainly not worried about it. It will happen when it's supposed to."

Unexpected changes have brought unimagined opportunities. Last year, she skated outdoors at a huge German car show. And Art on Ice in St. Moritz, Switzerland, took place on a lake.

"I have to pinch myself," says Bourne. "I can't wait to see what happens next."