The Inside Edge: 'Dougs' take show on the road

Mattis, Ladret star in 'vaudevillian' act; Mahbanoozadeh Dartmouth-bound; Castile, O'Keefe wed

Doug Mattis (left) and Doug Ladret have been friends for almost three decades.
Doug Mattis (left) and Doug Ladret have been friends for almost three decades. (courtesy of Doug Mattis)


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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to
(06/26/2013) - For the past couple of years, coaches Doug Mattis and Doug Ladret have been traveling around the country giving seminars together, as "The Dougs." They make a good team, as Mattis has been doing mostly choreography for the past few years, while Ladret is more of a technical coach.

"The first one we did was in Moorehead, Minnesota, two years ago," Mattis told us. "We had such a great time, and we realized immediately that when we were both with the kids, it became something of a vaudeville act. The kids didn't know what to make of it at first, but by the end they were all laughing at us.

"We have a good chemistry. Both of us know hard work and laughing a lot can happen at the same time, and in the end it's going to produce better work."

"Doug focuses on the performance aspect of skating, and I focus on the technical side," Ladret said. "But at the same time, we each understand the other side of it. He's good at technical things, I've choreographed -- we both understand the whole aspect of figure skating."

Mattis and Ladret became friends in 1985 at the international competitions in St. Gervais, France, and Oberstdorf, Germany.

"It was a very talented group," Mattis said. "I fell in with the Canadians rather easily, and out of that experience many longstanding friendships were born, especially with Kurt Browning and Doug. We've continued to be friends all these years."

"We met each other in St. Gervais in 1985 and instantly were friends," Ladret said. "He's like family, we've known each other so long."

The next "Dougs" seminar is in San Francisco, and then they'll be at the Philadelphia Skating Club and Humane Society in Ardmore, Pa., July 28-29.

That rink has a special meaning for Mattis.

"That's the rink where I grew up skating," Mattis said. "Many of the people that I grew up with are the elder statesmen of the rink. One of them, Regina Woodward Barr, is the new skating director. I've known Regina for about 30 years; we were childhood friends.

"Tragically, Regina's husband was killed in a car accident June 3, but she got in touch and says she's committed to going forward with the seminar. Both of us have donated to the educational fund she has set up, and I'm going to again."

(For more information on the education fund set up for Woodward Barr's two children, Paige and Joey, go here.)

Woodward Barr competed for Hungary in ice dance with Csaba Szentpétery; they finished 14th at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games.


Coach Tom Zakrajsek has developed an in-depth system of training his athletes to maximize their potential. He plans to share some of his expertise with the skating world via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram starting July 1. He'll be posting daily tips on periodization, his plan of varying training intensity over time and lots of other things too, like videos, pictures, quotes and other fun tidbits.

"This is typically the most intense training month for elite figure skaters," Zakrajsek said. "During 2013, the 'Olympic Push' is in full swing. My athletes will be preparing for the Glacier Falls competition the first week of August, so this time frame will also show a tapered workload."

Zakrajsek, who holds a master's degree in science, has given several science-based presentations at PSA conferences over the years and has been asked many times about specifics of his training plans.

"In a weekly cycle, the work each day is varied and coordinated with what off-ice training is being done by the athlete," Zakrajsek said. "For example: Monday is a hard day. Tuesday is a medium day. Wednesday is a hard day. Thursday is a light day. Friday is a medium day. Saturday is a light/medium day."

The system is intricate, so follow along on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to learn more.

"I am hoping the fans will get a glimpse into how much work coaches and athletes do to get ready for the season," Zakrajsek said. "While figure skaters are definitely talented, they are also trained, and their success is not accidental or lucky. There is a fair amount of planning that goes into it."

Big Green

Armin Mahbanoozadeh, who announced his retirement from competitive skating earlier this month, had always dreamed of attending Dartmouth College. He was originally accepted in 2009 and deferred entrance for one year while he continued to compete.

"Unfortunately, their policy is you can only defer for one year, so I had to let it go," Mahbanoozadeh said.

He applied again and got wait-listed.

"I didn't actually think it was going to happen," he told us June 15. "I was going to go to Northern Virginia Community College and then transfer to the University of Virginia, but then I found out yesterday that I got in. I will be Class of 2017, so I'm starting pretty much as a freshman. This will take a little longer, but I'm really excited to get the full college experience."

Mahbanoozadeh, who will turn 22 in August, says he feels more ready for college now than four years ago.

"At 18, I was so in my little skating bubble; now I'm more focused," he said. "I've come out of my shell. But I think I could pass for 18 -- I don't look that old! It's going to be a great time."

Dartmouth has a very successful collegiate skating program; Mahbanoozadeh said he might skate on the team, eventually.

"I definitely want to take some time off and enjoy not skating for a little bit," he said. "I'll be close to Boston, so I'll pop by for nationals."

'Tis the season

More congratulations are in order: 2007 U.S. pairs champion Brooke Castile, who also starred in Skating with the Stars and Dancing on Ice, married Kevin O'Keefe on June 15 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit. O'Keefe, a former ice dancer who is now an engineer, and Castile had been dating for 10 years.

Tanith Belbin, Meryl Davis and Lauren Senft were the bridesmaids, and Castile's sister, Paige, was the maid of honor. Skaters Charlie White, Fedor Andreev and Siobahn Karam were also in attendance, as was Castile's former partner, Ben Okolski.

"Ben took care of everything that needed to be done that day for me so I could enjoy the day without a care in the world," Castile said. "He is like a brother to me, and we are still as close as ever."

Castile is coaching and choreographing full time at the St. Clair Shores Figure Skating Club.

"This is where I began my skating career, and it's wonderful to be back there mentoring young skaters," she said. "I would love to have a big family ... hopefully soon."

On June 23, pairs skaters Kendra Moyle and Steve Pottenger wed, with Ryan Bradley and Maia Shibutani and Alex Shibutani in attendance.

The German pairs team of Maylin Hausch and Daniel Wende were married June 6.

All the best to all the happy couples!

Sarah and Drew

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