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Gregory, Petukhov hit the road with camera

Ice dancers launch YouTube channel

Melissa Gregory (right) received the USOC Rings of Gold award.
Melissa Gregory (right) received the USOC Rings of Gold award. (courtesy of Gregory and Petukhov)

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By Lois Elfman, special to icenetwork.com
(01/01/2009) - Since being temporarily knocked off the competitive scene due to injury, four-time U.S. ice dance silver medalists Melissa Gregory and Denis Petukhov have been coaching, choreographing and slowly easing back into skating. In January, they're hitting the road with an exciting new tour, Civeda, which combines skating, dance and live music. The show will also feature Evgeni Plushenko and Shae-Lynn Bourne, as well as the winner of So You Think You Can Dance, Joshua Allen. Other dancers from the hit TV competition will include Chelsea Traille, Jessica King and Gev Manoukian, whose father, Akop Manoukian, will also perform with his acrobatic skating partner, Armen Saakian.

"It will be almost full-size ice, but on one end they're going to have a stage in the middle of the ice," says Gregory.

"It will be a really interactive show," Petukhov says. "A few of our numbers we'll have the chance to work with Joshua and the other dancers to fuse part of our numbers."

Rehearsals begin in mid-January and the first show is Jan. 29 in Chilliwack, British Columbia. The tour will travel across Canada, finishing in St. John's, Newfoundland, on March 15. Details are available at www.civeda.ca.

Gregory and Petukhov, who will celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary during the tour, will be bringing a video camera with them. They recently launched their own YouTube channel, www.youtube.com/OlympianUncut, where they hope to give skating fans a true, behind-the-scenes look at the skating world.

"It is a fusion of everything we do and we're passionate about," says Petukhov. "We love performing. We love traveling. We love to discover new edgy kinds of things. We love teaching. We've been teaching a lot, choreographing a lot. We wanted to put everything together to keep everybody entertained."

"The things people never see," adds Gregory. "They're going to be able to see what goes into a tour."

And they promise not to sneak up on any of their castmates.

"People see the product performed, but you never see the other 20 people who put a lot of work into it," Petukhov says. "We want to introduce everybody to how it's been made."

After suffering an injury during their warm-up at Skate Canada in 2007, the couple moved from Delaware back to Connecticut, where they had lived an trained from 2003 to 2006. They consider it home. Most of their time has been spent coaching, but the past few months they've begun to work on their own skating again. They receive coaching from Bourne whenever she is in town and have also had Mathew Gates and Jamie Silverstein give some input into their programs.

"They're very talented, and it's kind of refreshing to work with somebody who is not so stuck on the game," Gregory notes. "They're a little bit lower key."

"We are creating something that's strictly about the artistic side of skating at this point," Petukhov explains. "That's what we want to take on tour."

The couple hopes a 23-city tour will put them in prime shape. When it's done, they'll make a decision if they want to return to competition. They're definitely not ruling it out. If they do go for a second Olympic trip, they'll document the journey on YouTube.

"We're always going to have a video camera with us from now on," Gregory says.

They may even be teaching some skating online. Among their students in Connecticut are professors from Yale, who have requested the couple post online lessons while they're away.

"You can earn a university degree online. Why can't you learn skating?" Petukhov says.

For those who prefer a more traditional approach, Gregory and Petukhov are launching a program at the International Skating Center in Simsbury called Olympic Fever on Ice. They want to provide families an affordable and exciting entrée into the sport and also provide a solid technical foundation, so kids don't get frustrated and quit.

"Let's face it, kids like to do things that they can excel at. If they learn correctly from the beginning, they have a better chance to stay in the sport," Gregory says. "We're firm believers in the fact that ice skating, or any sport for that matter, is not just about making it to the Olympics or winning and losing. There are so many other qualities and skills that they can get from skating."

In addition to YouTube, you can follow Gregory and Petukhov's travels on their Web site, www.gregoryandpetukhov.com.