Two years ago, Canadian senior dancers Chantal Lefebvre (26) and Arseniy Markov (22) were out of competition. But last season, they reached the podium at their first Canadian Nationals in January, taking the bronze medal. Both skaters have been there before with other partners. Lefebvre finished second at Canadians four times with Michel Brunet. They finished as high as 15th at Worlds in 1999 and 17th at the Olympics in 1998. After Brunet retired, Lefebvre tried again with Justin Lanning, reaching fifth at Canadians in 2001 and 2002 before starting a coaching career. Markov reached second in Russia in 2002 with his former partner, Svetlana Kulikova, but the team broke up when coaches Tatiana Tarasova and Nikolai Morozov decided to end their partnership.
“Arseniy did not want to go with Tarasova, he wanted to train with me,” Morozov said, “but Svetlana (Kulikova) wanted to stay with Tatiana so Arseniy had no girl anymore. We tried to skate with Romaniuta but it didn’t work well so I tried to think of what girl we could fit him with. I remembered Chantal so I called her and she said she’d be happy to skate with him. We just started to train in the winter of 2003, but the Russian Federation does not want to release him to Canada.” “I really feel like I’m back,” Lefebvre said. “This match is awesome for both of us. I couldn’t have a better partner.”
They are guaranteed to compete this season only at Canadian Nationals in London, Ontario, but are hoping to be able to compete internationally in 2005. “We hope to go to Four Continents and Worlds if we qualify,” Lefebvre said. “We’re ready to compete now but Arseniy has to finish his immigration paperwork. The Russian Federation will never release him because he is one of their two best ice dancers. Our goal is the 2006 Olympics, but we will go to 2010. That would be our last.”
Markov began skating when he was four. “My grandmother brought me to the skating school so I would be a healthy boy,” Markov stated. “I skated singles for a few years, then changed to ice dancing when I was 13 because I grew up so fast that in two weeks I lost all my jumps.”
“My mother put me into all kinds of sports,” Lefebvre said, “I did classical ballet for a little bit and then gymnastics for a week, but I didn’t like it. I often watched the skaters after my swimming lessons and asked for skating lessons. I went deeper into synchronized swimming and skating. But something about skating really caught my attention. It was so graceful. I was watching television and Liz Manley was my idol.” She began skating when she was nine and started ice dancing when she was 10. “Between nine and 13, I actually had three pairs of skates,” Lefebvre said. “for freestyle, dance and figures. I liked freestyle, but it wasn’t my thing, so I went to dance full-time when I was 13 Even when I was at a young age, I knew what I wanted to do.”
The dancers train with Morozov and Shae-Lynn Bourne in Newington, CT. on ice for four hours a day, five days a week. “I look up to Shae-Lynn,” Lefebvre said. “She’s a great athlete on and off the ice. She helps us put the finishing touches, feeling and emotion into our programs.” “We’re just training and training and getting better and better,” Markov said. “If we’re not on the ice, we go to the gym or to the dance room.”
This season, the dancers will be using Sing, Sing, Sing and Bei Mir Bist du Schon (In My Opinion, You Are Beautiful) for their original dance. Their free dance is to Bomfunk MC’s Freestyler. “The free dance is an element program now,” Markov said. “It’s like a four-minute compulsory dance. Every program looks the same because there are too many rules. Before it was like a four-lane highway with everybody going fast. Now it’s like a two-lane town road with always stops because of so many rules.”
Lefebvre was coaching some junior ice dancers when Morozov first contacted her. “I really like coaching,” Lefebvre said, “but I missed competing. I love to compete. It’s my element. I love the crowd and the pressure and the dresses and the dancing. I love to be challenged.” “For me its like a show, not just for the judges, but for the audience,” Markov added.
Because their training schedule is so strenuous, the dancers enjoy taking their weekends off to relax, either staying home in a quiet town in Connecticut or visiting her family in Quebec. Markov also enjoys rollerblading, watching Formula 1 auto races, and playing video games. Lefebvre likes rollerblading, as well as boating and shopping.