For Kerr siblings, it's one last dance

Brother and sister say this season will be their last

Sinead Kerr and John Kerr say this will be their last season on the competitive circuit.
Sinead Kerr and John Kerr say this will be their last season on the competitive circuit. (Paul Harvath)


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By Lynn Rutherford, special to
(10/31/2010) - This season, Sinead Kerr and John Kerr just want to have some fun.

Fans of the Scottish siblings, known far and wide as "the Kerrs," may think the sunny personalities they've displayed for the last decade -- through seven consecutive British ice dance titles and the 2009 European bronze medal -- guarantee they're always enjoying themselves, but that's not the case.

"Last season, especially in Vancouver, I think we let the pressure get to us a bit," Sinead, 31, said. "We were kind of the British hopes at the Olympics [they placed eighth]. We weren't always having a lot of fun. This last year, we're just doing it for ourselves."

"Our coach, Evgeni [Platov], gave us a lot of freedom in our training as well," John, 30, said. "It's kind of like a weight is off our shoulders. The main bulk of our career is over; we're just enjoying this extra year, seeing how much we can improve."

The lighter attitude is reflected in their free dance, set for a second time to music from the English alternative rock band Muse.

The program, created with Peter Tchernyshev, is quite a departure from last season, when the siblings tackled Linkin Park's "Krwlng," and John portrayed a man in the depths of turmoil and depression.

"This time around, we're not necessarily telling a story," Sinead said. "This is a piece from Muse's newest album. It's classic, soft. It's about feelings, memories of childhood when we were happy, fresh and free in life."

This is the team's second Skate Canada; they placed seventh in 2005. They almost didn't make it.

"Just before Finlandia [Trophy] -- the day before we were leaving -- I had a subluxtion of my shoulder, basically a dislocation," Sinead said. "I went back to Scotland to work with a physio, took a week off and then gradually came back."

The injury forced a few changes to their free dance.

"It was a problem on our rotational lift; we had to change to another [rotational] we've done before," Sinead said. "So we've change a few bits about, but mostly it's okay."

Neither sibling is tempted to continue through next season, although the 2012 European Championships will be held in Sheffield, England.

"No, no, no," Sinead said. "There are some really, really good up-and-coming young teams. I think we can hold them off this year, but that's it. I think if we stayed in, we'd be pressing our luck. We want to go out while the going is good."

"You see some athletes try to hold on too long; hopefully that's not what we're doing this year," John said. "It's tough to keep competing against younger teams that grew up in the new [IJS] system."

One of those younger couples, British silver medalists Penny Coomes and Nick Buckland -- who recently won bronze at Coupe de Nice -- train alongside the siblings in New Jersey.

"I think it's good for them; they can benefit from our experience, and hopefully some of their youthful exuberance is rubbing off on us," John said.

"It's hard being the number one team [in a country]," Sinead added. "We can shelter them a little bit, I think, this season. After that, they have so many years ahead of them."

After the season, the Kerrs plans are still up in the air.

"Our path in life will probably be skating," Sinead said. "At the moment, we don't know where to base ourselves. Obviously, right now we're training in the U.S. and that's where work is, but we also want to put something back into skating in the UK, so if there's an opportunity there we'd consider it.

"I don't know if we want to be full-time coaches right away; I think we need a transition. So choreography, shows -- bring it on."