Nylanders Make Judges See Double

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Amanda and Isabelle Nylander

Swedish twins Amanda and Isabelle Nylander kept viewers guessing all week at the 2005 World Junior Figure Skating Championships as they tried to determine which was which. Amanda’s hair is a slightly lighter shade of red than Isabelle’s, but it’s the freckles that tell them apart. Isabelle’s are mostly on the lower left of her face, while Amanda’s are on the upper right. Isabelle noted, “Amanda is more joking off ice, not so serious.” Amanda responded, “Isabelle is more of a pedant, always keeping our room clean and stuff.”

The twins finished 15th and 18th respectively at World Juniors, skating in the same group for the free skate. It’s not the first time they have competed against one another. Amanda, the 2005 Swedish junior ladies champion, usually bests Isabelle, who was the silver medallist in Sweden. During the 2004-05 season, they were fifth and sixth respectively at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel and fifth and 17th at the Ukrainian Souvenir. But Isabelle was first at Nordics and Amanda was third. “It’s fun to go together,” Isabelle said. “We feel safe together.” “It’s hollow when Isabelle’s not there,” Amanda added.

The 15-year-olds started skating when they were nine. “Our mom was a skater when she was young,” said Amanda, “but she didn’t really want us to skate. Our dad was a hockey player.” “It was our grandmother who wanted us to be skaters,” Isabelle added. “We were in gymnastics when we wee five for about a year, but then we wanted to try skating.”

Both of the twins landed their first triple jump, a salchow, when they were eleven. “If one of us learns something first, the other does it right after, Amanda said. This summer, they hope to learn the triple lutz. Both skaters like the loop as their favorite jump. Amanda also likes the salchow, while Isabelle prefers the axel.

Amanda used a triple salchow-double toe loop, triple toe, triple salchow and triple loop in her free skate this season, while Isabelle had double flip-double toe-double loop, a double salchow-double toe sequence, triple salchow and triple loop. Amanda also had a double axel, flip and lutz, while Isabelle had double axel, lutz and toe loop. In the short, both skaters used a triple salchow-double toe loop.

Both skaters have been coached by Marie Olsson for the last five years. They train in both Stockholm and Lidkoping in Sweden. The twins skate for two to four hours a day, six days a week, and do an hour a day of off ice training. They also do ballet three times a week. The twins are competitive with one another in practice. “It’s good to have someone you know very well train with you on the ice,” Isabelle said. “If Amanda does something, I have to do it better.” In an odd coincidence, another set of twins trains at their club, surely a coach’s nightmare keeping them all straight.

Katarina de Bourg is their choreographer and also picks their music. This season, Amanda used “Kismet” performed by Bond for her short and “Malaguena” by Ernesto Lecuona for the long, while Isabelle used music from Cirque du Soleil’s “Quidam” for the short and Stravinski’s “Firebird” for the long. “Our coach thought I could show Firebird rather well, ” Isabelle said. “I like to show a story with my music.” Both of Isabelle’s programs were new but Amanda kept her short from the 2003-04 season. “I like to skate to dramatic and fun music,” Amanda said. Off ice, they both listen to the same popular music.

Off ice, the twins are always together, often with their mother. They like to go out with friends and play badminton in their grandmother’s garden in the summer. Both of them like to read. “I read different things, mostly crime and other true stories,” Isabelle said. “I don’t like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.” “They’re fairy tales,” echoed Amanda. “When I read something good I tell her and if she reads something good, she tells me.” They also collect skating pins and keep all the gifts they receive on the ice. They want to get a dog but have not had success in convincing their parents to get them one.

The skaters are both in the eighth grade in school. English and home economics are their favorite subjects. Both ladies speak English well in addition to their native Swedish. They don’t plan to attend university, but want to become skating coaches or choreographers.

As for their goals, Isabelle said, “I want to have great skating in international competitions. I plan to skate until the day I am happy with my career. Amanda said, “I’d like to come to Junior Worlds again and skate better.”

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