Julia Vlassov, 14 and Drew Meekins, 20 were born on opposite sides of the Arctic circle. She was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, while he’s from Juneau, Alaska. Now the couple resides and trains in Massachusetts. Vlassov and Meekins placed ninth at their first World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 2005. The couple had finished second in juniors at U. S. Nationals in 2005 after winning the novice pairs title the previous season. They were fourth at the 2004-05 ISU Junior Grand Prix Final and won medals at both their Junior Grand Prix events – gold at the 2004 Belgrade Sparrow and bronze at the Ukrainian Souvenir.
Next season, they hope to win the U. S. junior pairs title, get to Junior Worlds, and medal there. They hope to skate as long as possible. “I love competing and the feeling of being in front of an audience making so many people happy,” Vlassov said. “I love to compete,” Meekins added. “Skating combines athleticism and artistry in a unique way that fits my personality.”
Vlassov began skating when she was five. “My parents coach at the rink all day so they brought me with them and taught me to skate,” Vlassov said. By eleven she had landed her first triple jumps, a salchow and a toe loop. “I got them both on the same day,” she recalled. Vlassov still competes in ladies singles, placing sixth in novice ladies at the U. S. Eastern Sectionals last season. She began skating pairs three years ago. “I had a tryout one day and liked it,” she said. “I liked the feeling of flying in the lifts and throws.” They are currently using a throw triple toe loop.
Meekins didn’t start skating until he was 12 and didn’t land a triple until he was 18. He was heavily involved in team sports before he started skating, playing baseball, basketball and football on school and recreational teams. Coincidentally, he played guard in both basketball and football. He only reached regionals in intermediate men’s and switched to pairs when he was 14. “I always wanted to do pairs,” he stated. “It’s more interesting than singles. I like working with a partner. It takes more skill to work with someone else.”
The pair is coached by Vlassov’s father, Alexander, the 1976 Worlds bronze and 1977 World silver medallist in pairs with Irina Vorobieva, and Laura Amelina. They work for four hours a day, six days a week on ice and an hour and a half a day off ice.
Amelina also choreographs the couple’s program. Last season, they used “Picante” by Vanessa Mae for the short and the “Paycheck” soundtrack by John Powell for the free skate. Both programs were new for the 2004-05 season, but they plan to have a new short for next season. “We all keep looking and listening for music for each year’s programs,” Vlassov said. “We heard the music for the long program and really liked it.” “I like faster rather than slower music,” Meekins added. “The short was fast all the way through.”
Their exhibition program was to the music from “Tarzan”. Off ice, Meekins listens to lots of different kinds of music, mainly pop artists like Christina Aguilera. Vlassov said, “I just listen to whatever’s on at the rink or in the car.” Both skaters can play the saxophone.
As for off ice activities, Vlassov enjoys hanging out with her friends and collecting anything with cats on it. She even has a pet cat. Meekins enjoys going to Boston to visit his friends there. He likes watching all kinds of movies, especially drama, action and comedy films.
Both skaters cited Finland as the favorite place they had traveled so far, although Meekins also enjoyed a trip to Paris. “It was really beautiful with a nice mix of old architecture and modern flair,” he said. “It would be cool to go on safari somewhere in Africa and go to Australia some day.” “I always wanted to go to Fiji,” Vlassov said. “It sounds like it would be a nice, peaceful calm place to go on vacation.”
Meekins has graduated from high school, while Vlassov will be in tenth grade in the fall. Mathematics was the favorite subject for each of them. Both skaters plan to study at the university. Meekins plans to study business or management, while Vlassov is undecided about a course of study. “I’d like to stay involved with skating after I finish competing, but not as a coach,” Vlassov said. “There’s too much responsibility.”