Milica Brozovic and Vladimir Futas from the Slovak Republic were the first skaters to test the International Skating Union’s new rules that allow women to wear pants instead of skirts in competition. For their long program this season, Brozovic has worn a pair of embroidered denim short shorts instead of a dress. “We wanted to try out the new rule,” Brozovic said. “I’m supposed to be Pinocchio. He’s a boy puppet, so I had to wear shorts, not a dress.”
The 2004 Slovakian pairs champions finished 14th at last year’s European Championships and 15th at the World Championships in their first season together. This season, they have already won a silver medal at the Otto Nepela Memorial in Bratislava and placed sixth at the Nebelhorn Trophy and ninth at Skate Canada.
Brozovic first skated when she was five. “I saw figure skating on television and asked my mother to buy me skates,” she said. “For seven years, I skated in singles. I was second in juniors in Serbia and third in the Balkan Games. But when I was 13, I tried pairs. It’s more interesting because there are more different elements.”
Futas began skating when he was five. “When I was in kindergarten, coaches came to pick kids for tests for coordination,” he explained. “They asked my parents if they wanted me to skate. I didn’t know what it was, but I said OK. Until I was 17, I skated in singles, then for two years I skated both singles and pairs. I was two times the junior men’s champion and could do all the triples except the triple axel. But I was tall for singles and we had better single men. My coach actually asked me about dance but I never tried. There was a girl who wanted to do pairs so I thought it was quite OK to skate with her. It’s more interesting to do all the other moves, not just jumps and spins.”
Before teaming with Futas, Brozovic had competed for Russia with Anton Nimenko, placing fifth and seventh at the World Junior Championships in 1999 and 2000. Futas was 13th and 12th during the same years with Diana Riskova, but only 15th the next season. He then skated with Maria Guerassimenko for two seasons, finishing 11th at Europeans and 18th at Worlds in 2003 after winning the Slovakian senior pairs title, but they parted soon after. “I met Milica at competitions,” Futas said. “I liked her skating. When my old partner finished, I asked her to skate with me.” They began training together after Worlds in the spring of 2003.
The skaters train with Vladimir Dvojnikov in Bratislava. Futas has worked with Dvojnikov since he was 18, while Brozovic has trained with the coach only since she began skating with Futas. Before that she trained with many Russian coaches, among them Nina Mozer, and choreographers, including Sergei Petukhov. They work for about two to three hours a day on ice five days a week. In the winter, it’s usually two hours while in the summer, they get in three hours or more. They also run and cycle in the summer, while in the winter they do a little ballet, dance and gym work.
Former Canadian ice dancer Julie Marcotte choreographs the couple’s programs. Their short program, “Caravan of Light” by David Arkenstone, is the same program that they used last season. “We picked the music together when we were at the shop,” Brozovic said. “We both liked it from the beginning.” Their long program is new. The couple are using music from the “Pinocchio” soundtrack suggested by German coach Martin Skotnicky. “We had a spring seminar at his rink and asked him to look for music for us,” Futas explained, “and he gave us some ideas. Julie did the entire free program and revised the short from last year.”
Usually, they change one of their programs each year. Although Brozovic usually enjoyed skating to classical music before joining Futas, she said, “We’re now searching for something to be a little different. We chose the short program because it was interesting and the long program because it allowed us to try out the new ISU rules.”
Off ice, she listens to everything but waltzes while he said he listens mainly to classical music, but only when he’s tired. Instead, he prefers to go cycling or kayaking, go out with his friends, and drive his car. He also enjoys cooking. “I’m learning and I like it,” he said. “It’s fun and the food tastes better if I do it myself.” Brozovic likes to read, mysteries and other stories that are different. She enjoys club dancing and watching comedy movies.
For travel, Brozovic enjoys Europe the best although she enjoyed visiting Montreal last summer. She usually tries to go to the seaside for her holidays. Futas prefers seeing historical places. “I’ve never been to China, so I’d like to go there,” he said. “I also want to see Japan and other Asian countries and the west coast of Canada.”
Although he doesn’t have any special plans for a career after skating, Futas, who is 25, has finished a university degree in economics and business management. Brozovic, who is only 21, plans to attend university, but has no specific career in mind. When that will be depends somewhat on how their skating career progresses. “It depends on whether we qualify for the 2006 Olympics,” she said. “Then we’ll decide how long we want to continue.”