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The Inside Edge: Punk rock skating with Overett

Dornbush sets sights on Olympics with new programs; Ando, Salé welcome new children

Braden Overett being filmed for his starring role in a music video.
Braden Overett being filmed for his starring role in a music video. (Beth Napoli)

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By Sarah S. Brannen and Drew Meekins, special to icenetwork.com
(07/10/2013) - It goes without saying that a hardcore punk band video is probably the last place you'd expect to see an elite figure skater. But there Braden Overett is, skating his heart out on the official video to "Romanticize Me." It's a great video -- search for it and have a look!

Per our hasty research, the members of the band are Bradley Fry, Randy Huth, Matt Korvette and Sean McGuinness. We can't print the name of the band here, but you'll see it if you watch the video.

In the video, Overett plays a janitor at an ice rink, going through the drudgery of end-of-the day cleanup. The next thing you know, he's on the ice going through a program, which turns into a sort of fantasy of performing under spotlights in front of an audience.

But how did a punk band find him?

"Someone contacted Derrick Delmore, and Derrick was unable to do it, so he blasted it out to a few of his friends," Overett told us. "They wanted someone who looked older, kind of scraggly, who personified the janitor/maintenance guy who doesn't like his life. My hair hasn't been cut in a few months. Derrick was like, 'The messier you can be, the better.'"

"When I found out Braden was interested, I quickly looked him up," director Joe Stakun said. "I muted all the music in his routines and played the band's music. It was incredible -- I got so excited. Just changing that one aspect completely changed the way I saw figure skating. ... The connotations that come along with skating really brought out the emotion in the music."

Overett told us the video is part of a longer, more complex story about a young hockey player who switches to figure skating at the age of 15, disappointing his father. Years later, his father is dead, and he still skates alone after hours in the rink where he works as a janitor. He loves skating, but he feels that it ruined his relationship with his father.

"The song 'Romanticize Me' is, in a lot of ways, about never living up to someone's expectations," Stakun said. "When I set out to make the video, I originally wanted to deal with gender roles. Boys being 'boys' and girls being 'girls' seems like the most widely accepted, yet absurd, expectation. I feel like this sort of thinking can only discourage an individual doing what they truly love."

Overett referred to the music as "rage metal," which we can't say we're too familiar with.

Neither was he.

"The music is totally off the skating train tracks," Overett said. "It's something I've never seen skated to, something I've never imagined skating to. When I heard it, I thought, 'I've already committed to this; what am I going to do?'"

Nevertheless, the director thought figure skating would be a perfect fit for the video.

"I feel as though figure skating is something people are quick to call 'feminine,'" Stakun said. "Or kids in the schoolyard would say, 'That's for girls!' With figure skating, in order to really have a perfect performance, you need to put all of your emotions on display, and people are scared of that. Being such a graceful and precise form ... People seem to overlook how incredibly badass figure skating actually is."

"They asked if I had a sparkly outfit. They wanted something quintessentially figure skating," Overett said. "For all I knew, this could have been a prank. But I was like, 'Well, who would be pranking me?' It was kind of fun but also kind of shocking. I couldn't understand some of the words, so I had to look up the lyrics."

The video was filmed in one night. Overett said he skated continuously for hours, with one 20-minute break.

"Braden was incredible!" Stakun said. "I don't know what's par for the course when it comes with figure skaters retired from competition, but wow! He was essentially skating hard for eight hours and he landed every single move he tried with the exception of one, and even then, he still sort of landed it. Toward the end of the night, I was realizing, 'Wow, he's probably done 30 triple toes.'

"For all I know, he does that every night. He is an incredible athlete."

Overett, 32, was the 1998 U.S. junior silver medalist. He finished seventh at the U.S. championships as a senior in 2004. He won the 2007 PSA award for his Pirates of the Caribbean free skate, and last competed at the 2008 U.S. Championships.

In the new video, he shows off a double Axel, fast footwork and a fantastic Russian split jump.

"It was such a cool experience," Overett said. "When you put the components of creating entertainment together, all the rules go out the window. I don't know why I was allowed to drive the Zamboni at 4 a.m. All of a sudden, I'm allowed to do anything. It's fun when you find someone who's so out of the box. It was a blast."

"I like that we never hear Braden speak," Stakun said. "Everything his character needs to say, he says with his skating, and Braden is incredibly well spoken."

When he's not rocking out to noise metal/hardcore punk, Overett is teaching a lot of hockey and working on his Veretto clothing line of practice wear. He just directed his first show, the Los Angeles Ice Theater benefit, and he coaches and choreographs, mostly at the Toyota Sports Center in Los Angeles. In the show, he and Dornbush do a very fun number together -- another must-see video.

Dornbush reveals programs

We caught up with 2011 U.S. silver medalist Richard Dornbush over the weekend. He told us that both of his programs for the coming season were choreographed by Mark Pillay, who did his U2 short program last year. We thought that program was quite wonderful, so we're excited to see what's coming next.

Dornbush's short program is set to Sons of Italy.

"It hasn't been performed on a really high level that I know of since Kurt Browning did it in the 1990-91 season," Dornbush said. "It's more of a character piece."

Dornbush is very excited about his new free skate, to a Beatles medley. He says it's a "roller coaster," with several variations in tempo.

"It's very subtle in the beginning; people won't really know what the music is, and the further it goes, it becomes more and more clear that it's the Beatles," Dornbush said. "It starts slow and then speeds up through the footwork, and then there's a slow part to a John Lennon piece, and then the ending picks up again."

Last year, Dornbush started off the season with a bang, scoring 168.80 at the 2012 Finlandia Trophy with a free skate loaded with two quad toes and two triple Axels. He fell on the second quad. Dornbush is noncommittal about the jump content in his new programs.

"It's still a little early," he said. "We've been experimenting with the quad Sal and seeing how that feels in the program. I have some lofty goals."

Max Aaron and Dornbush skated in a show together recently and compared quad notes.

"It's interesting talking to the other guys who are really pushing the quads, because we all run into the same stumbling blocks," Dornbush said. "Our feet will hurt in the same ways. It's interesting to talk to the guys who are going through the same things."

Asked about his goals for the coming season, Dornbush was forthright.

"I'm not afraid to say that the Olympics is a huge goal of mine," he said. "I would be ecstatic if I were to earn a spot on that team. I know how hard the other guys are gunning for those positions."

Dornbush will start his quest at the Glacier Falls Summer Classic. He said he is also considering skating at the Golden West Championships and hoping for a senior B assignment.

Babies

We offer up our congratulations to new mom Miki Ando -- we're sure you have heard by now that she recently announced she gave birth to a baby girl, Himawari, in April.

Congratulations, also, to Jamie Salé and her husband, and Battle of the Blades partner, Craig Simpson, who welcomed baby Samantha Rae Simpson on July 7. (An auspicious day, given that it's also Michelle Kwan's birthday).

Our best wishes to the new arrivals and their parents!

Sarah and Drew
Follow us @SarahandDrew