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Coomes, Buckland ready to make an impact

British ice dancers want to be a team to watch

Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland have impressed with their unique style.
Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland have impressed with their unique style. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(08/10/2011) - British ice dancers Penny Coomes and Nicholas Buckland attracted the attention of figure skating fans, as well as the interest of skating professionals, with their performances last season. Despite the fact that they haven't set the Thames on fire so far (they finished 18th at the worlds, 16th at the European Championships and took eighth place at Skate America and the NHK Trophy), their great potential and a real passion for figure skating left an impression on viewers.

It should also be noted that their coach, the two-time Olympic champion Evgeny Platov, is a specialist who is known to be perfectly able not only to train his athletes, but also teach them to be original and creative in their performances.

Icenetwork.com talked to British team about their summer training in New Jersey, new programs and ideas for the upcoming season.

Icenetwork: Well, the new season is at the doorstep. Could you tell us about your readiness?

Penny Coomes/Nicholas Buckland: After worlds we flew straight back to America to start our preseason training. We have never skated the rumba before, so we spent these six weeks with Evgeny Platov on our basic skating and also to learn the rumba. We then took some time off in June, which we both spent back home with our families.

Then we spent a two weeks choreographing our programs with my step-dad, Philip Askew in England before returning to New Jersey in July.

We have been spending our time now, working on our new programs and getting them ready for our first competition in England at the end of August.

Icenetwork: Are you satisfied with your past season's performances?

Coomes/Buckland: Last season was a good year for us; we participated in our first senior Grand Prix and our first world championships. We learned a lot from each competition which we hope to take forward to this year.

Icenetwork: The British famous ice dancers Sinead Kerr and John Kerr are helping you with your trainings. Tell us about your work with them.

Coomes/Buckland: John and Sinead have been fantastic mentors for us both, and we really enjoyed training with them last season. It has been strange not having them around all the time. John Kerr was actually in the rink last week and was helping us with some details within our program. We want to thank them for everything that they have done for us when moving to train out here, and we hope to help others in the future in way they helped us.

Icenetwork: And what could you tell about the inexhaustible creativity of your coach, Evgeny Platov?

Coomes/Buckland: Evgeny has been so great to train under; he has been and done it himself, which we feel makes him very relatable. He is a true master of our sport, and we are very privileged to be able to work with him.

Icenetwork: Many people like your team because of your creativity. How do you find that balance which allows you to create on the ice and at the same time follow different innovations and changes in ice dancing rules?

Coomes/Buckland: We are full of crazy ideas; we spend so much time watching videos trying to take whatever we can from them. Once we have an idea we try and fit it into the rules, but keep originality. We are also very lucky to have a great team around us, who make all the crazy ideas possible. Phillip Askew, a former British champion actually creates the programs for us but we all add our own ideas in different areas.

Icenetwork: Your past season's programs and performances were extremely original. What about the new ones?

Coomes/Buckland: This year for the short dance we have chosen to skate to Christina Aguilera's "El Beso Del Final" and Jennifer Lopez's "Let's get Loud". Our free dance will be to the music from the show "Viva Elvis" by Cirque du Soleil.

Icenetwork: How do you think ice dancing will evolve in the future?

Coomes/Buckland: Well, we have seen the sport get more and more athletic over the past few years, and we think that it will continue to develop. We think also that teams are becoming more used to the judging system of today and this will hopefully allow them to be creative within the rules and at the same time maximizing their technical scores. We think it's very important for up and coming teams, such as ours, to try entertain and come up with something different in order to progress in the rankings.

Icenetwork: Is there something that has changed in your skating life?

Coomes/Buckland: Evgeny's team has changed since last year. John and Sinead have retired and our friends Otar Japaridze and Allison Reed have unfortunately split, so it was very lonely at the start of the year, but recently there have been lots of the additions to the team.

Icenetwork: Next year the European Championships will be held in the United Kingdom, in Sheffield. What does it mean for you and what does it mean for British skating fans?

Coomes/Buckland: Skating in front of a home crowd will be amazing for all of the teams from Great Britain and means a lot for all of us. We think it will be great for all of the U.K.'s enthusiastic skating fans, and it will also bring new fans to the sport. It will also be good for young aspiring skaters in Great Britain and should provide a lot of inspiration to a younger generation as we know how much hard work has been put into the event by the association, and we are sure it will be an amazing event.

Icenetwork: What are the main goals for your team in the upcoming season?

Coomes/Buckland: We have specific goals set within the team to do with results and performances this season, but it's safe to say that we want to make an impact with our programs this season and provide performances that people enjoy and look forward to watch.