Pratt and Gilles Ready for 2005-06

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Trina Pratt and Todd Gilles

Trina Pratt, 18 and Todd Gilles, 19, have already won the gold medals at U. S. Nationals in novice and junior dance and plan to compete as seniors at the 2006 U. S. Nationals. Meanwhile, they will continue to compete as juniors on the international circuit. “Our goal is to at least medal and preferably win Junior Worlds,” Gilles said. “We also want to make the Junior Grand Prix Final. But Chris (Dean) thought we should move up to seniors at Nationals.” The duo is slated to compete at the Junior Grand Prixs in Slovakia and Croatia this fall.

The dancers finished eighth at their first major international, the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada in 2005, recovering from a bad fall in the original dance that left them in 16th place in the OD. “We just wanted to set ourselves up for next season,” Pratt said. “The team goal was to have three teams next year,” Gilles added. Earlier in the 2004-05 season, the 2005 U.S. junior dance champions won bronze medals at both their Junior Grand Prix events in Budapest, Hungary and Harbin, China.

Pratt, who is originally from Iowa City, Iowa, began skating when she was six. “We went to see a Christmas ice show in Pueblo and afterwards my mom bribed me with candy to take lessons,” Pratt said. “My mom expected me to be the best at skating because she thinks I’m the most talented thing ever. My first show was to “Animal Crackers in My Soup”-a tap dance. The teacher told my mom that I wasn’t an ordinary dancer, I was a ballet dancer, so then I started ballet. I love the precise movements and order that ballet incorporates. It’s the type of person I am. I like things controlled with beauty. I was really into it until I was 14. I still do it.”

She competed in singles until 1999, learning all the doubles and reaching as high as Southwest Regional champion in Group B pre-juvenile ladies in 1998. She began dancing with her brother, Robert, when she was ten. “I switched because I saw my future wasn’t in singles,” she explained. The siblings placed second nationally in juvenile dance in 1997, third in intermediate dance in 1999, second in intermediate in 2000, and tenth in novice in 2001. But her brother retired from skating after that.

Gilles’ whole family is involved in skating. His father is one of the U.S. team’s doctors, his sister Piper was first in intermediate dance in 2005 with Tim McKernan, his sister Alexe was 16th in intermediate ladies last season, and his sister Shelby skates on a synchro team. He started skating a little earlier than Pratt, when he was four after his mother took him to a rink. “I tried out different sports when I was a kid,” Gilles said. “I played basketball, soccer and a lot of baseball in Boys Clubs and intramural leagues. In baseball, I played second and third base and right field.” He also took a lot of dance classes at his mother’s insistence. He appeared in local productions of “Alice in Wonderland” and the “The Wizard of Oz”.

Gilles competed in singles until he was 16, but never made it to U. S. Nationals. He started dancing when he was 14. “It was kind of on a dare with my former partner, Margaret Goldbach,” he stated. “Her mom asked me if I could do it but I was pretty skeptical at first. It wasn’t until I moved to Colorado that I realized I was better at it.” Goldbach and Gilles finished fifth in juvenile dance at the 2001 U. S. Junior Nationals.

After he split with Goldbach, Gilles had a lot of tryouts before his coach heard about Pratt. The couple got together at the 2002 Lake Placid Dance Competition. “Her personality was a good match for mine,” Gilles said. “We like the same things and she’s got a great sense of humor. She’s not too high maintenance.” They progressed quickly, finishing sixth in novice in 2002, winning novice in 2003, placing third in junior in 2004, and winning the gold in juniors in 2005.

Patti Gottwein-Britton is the head coach for the dancers, who train in Colorado Springs, Colorado, but they also work with Christopher Dean. “Patti is the main component as to why we are where we are,” said Pratt. “She drives us so hard every day. She knows what it takes to make a champion and she incorporates that into us and into all of her students. Even on days when we feel tired and useless, she gets work and improvement out of us.” Their schedule includes five 45 minute sessions a day now, two classes of ballet a week, three strength training sessions a week. Pratt also runs, while Gilles mountain bikes and skis.

For the 2004-05 season, Christopher Dean choreographed the original dance to “Won’t You Charleston With Me?”, “Let There Be Love” by Nat King Cole, and “Let Yourself Go”. Tom Dickson choreographed their free dance to the “Romeo and Juliet” soundtrack. “We worked only with Tom until two years ago,” Gilles said, “but now we work with both Tom and Chris. Tom brings in ideas and sees how we skate to different music. He thought the free dance would be good for us because we fit the age group of Romeo and Juliet. Chris usually had us find the original dance music and fits the choreography to it.”

“I like to skate to powerful music,” Pratt said. “I really like Latin music because it’s fast and hot and the best kind of dancing to watch.” Off ice, Pratt said she likes “everything – piano, classical, rap – but not hard rock.” Gilles enjoys alternative, surf guitar music and oldies, but doesn’t like hard rock or country. He plays the electric guitar, even performing in a punk rock band, and has hopes of being a professional musician. Pratt played the violin in her school orchestra and took piano lessons when she was younger. She also sang alto in her school choir for four years.

Gilles is a freshman at the University of Colorado. Although he hasn’t selected a major, he’s interested in history, writing, languages, and filmmaking. Pratt just finished her senior year in high school, where she was an honor student. Neither skater has decided on a career, but Gilles plans to study business and Pratt said, “I want to go to college to study cooking now so that I can gourmet cook for myself for the rest of my life.” Both of the dancers want to continue in skating as coaches after they finish competing. Gilles also likes judging and as an apprentice judge has already judged basic skills tests. They have done a little choreography for themselves and others and Pratt enjoys helping younger skaters with their skating skills.

Gilles’ off ice interests include listening to music, playing his guitar, and collecting skating pins, CDs and guitars. He also enjoys hanging out with his friends, making movies, and off roading on trails in the Colorado mountains. Pratt is involved in numerous church activities, helping her mother with small children, making gift baskets and cooking. She also enjoys playing tennis and racquetball, going to movies, dancing, swimming and tanning. She collects state quarters. Both of the skaters have pets. She has two cats named Garfield and Odie and a turtle named Squirt, while he has two miniature poodles and two cockatiels.

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