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Skate Today

Adversity Strengthens Resolve for American Dancers

Loren Galler-Rabinowitz & David Mitchell

They’re back. Loren Galler-Rabinowitz (19) and David Mitchell (23) have returned to challenge for one of the United States’ three spots at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy. “Our goals are to qualify for the Olympic and World Championship teams,” Mitchell said. “We are very excited about our programs, and even more exhilarated about the quality of work we have been able to accomplish this year. We are truly enjoying working with each other everyday, and I don’t think either of us would want to be doing anything else.”

Hailed as the country’s most promising native-born U.S. ice dance team for the last several years, the couple has been competing together longer than any of their rivals. With more than seven years of partnership, the dancers have shown the unison and communication that comes only with time. They took the bronze medal at the 2004 U.S. Nationals, building on their pewter medal of 2003. Thus, they became the first U.S. dance couple ever to medal in novice, junior and senior dance within four years. The duo won novice in 2000 and junior in 2002. With international placements as high as first in the compulsory dance at the 2003 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, the future looked bright.

But then Mitchell suffered a serious injury, causing the team to miss most of last season. “My injury was torn cartilage in my left shoulder,” Mitchell explained. “Loren and I did our best to push through, but it was obvious, after Skate Canada, that we would not be able to train adequately for Nationals. When cortisone injections failed to offer relief, surgery was the only alternative.”

After undergoing arthroscopic surgery in December, Mitchell was unable to skate for over four months, causing the couple to miss the 2005 U.S. Nationals. “After three months of rehab, I returned to Connecticut and made my return to the ice,” Mitchell related. “My shoulder has continued to improve steadily since then, with our training regimen increasing accordingly. June and July have seen our return to full training.”

Galler-Rabinowitz did not remain idle while Mitchell was recuperating. “I focused solely on skating,” she said, “training by myself for five hours per day. As soon as he was able, David was at the rink every day with me as I skated by myself. Now that’s teamwork.”

The dancers, who represent the Skating Club of Boston, have trained with Natalia Dubova at Stamford Twin Rinks in Connecticut for the past year and a half. They are currently training with Dubova at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, New York, for the summer. “Natalia is incredible to work with,” Mitchell stated. “Her ability to break down technical challenges in skating, and to clearly communicate what she wants executed amazes us. Every day is a course in humility as Natalia dissects the large picture into less intimidating concepts.”

“Natalia’s energy never ceases,” Galler-Rabinowitz added. “She brings two hundred percent to our lessons every single practice, even when it’s freezing and five in the morning. We have focused on rebuilding our technique this spring, improving our speed and letting our personalities shine through our new programs.” “Technically, we are better than we have ever been,” Mitchell continued. “We are making strides in increasing our speed and flow as well as our confidence and emotional expression. We know that Natalia is the best person to guide us as we move forward with our skating career.”

In addition to Dubova, Galler-Rabinowitz and Mitchell are also working with Olympic ice dance champion, Marina Anissina. “Not many people have the opportunity to work with the reigning Olympic champion,” Mitchell said. “Just being on the same ice with Marina lifted our skating to a higher level. Marina helps us translate Natalia’s ideas, as well as her own, into our skating.”

Anissina collaborated with Tatiana Logishev and Dubova to create the couple’s original dance-a combination of Merengue, Rumba and Cha Cha. Antonio Najarro worked with Anissina to design the free dance, a modern version of an Astor Piazolla tango. Skating aficionados know Najarro as the choreographer of Anissina and Piezerat’s winning Tango/Flamenco original dance in 2002. In addition to his work as a choreographer, he is a tango/flamenco dancer, who leads his own dance troupe, based in Madrid, Spain. In May, Galler-Rabinowitz and Mitchell traveled to Spain to work with Najarro on the choreography and to immerse themselves in Spanish culture.

“When Natalia first proposed sending us to Spain, David and I were both a little apprehensive,” Galler-Rabinowitz noted. “However, the two weeks in Madrid were an extraordinary experience-culturally, choreographically and in every other sense. Not only did we have the opportunity to work with Antonio and Marina every day but also saw live flamenco, were serenaded with a tango in the Plaza Mayor, and visited the famous Prado museum. We hope that we are able to bring some of that Spanish flavor to our free dance this year. It is definitely my favorite program thus far.”

“Our trip to Spain was eye-opening,” Mitchell said. “It was our first experience taking choreography from the floor and translating it onto the ice. Antonio’s modern tango/flamenco expertise and his innovative choreography helped us develop a program that is unlike anything we have ever done. The whole experience added a new, artistic dimension to our skating.”

Strengthened by overcoming adversity and backed by an Olympic veteran coaching team, the dancers are fixated on one goal: representing the United States at the 2006 Olympic Games. “We have worked as hard as possible since David’s return and are just itching for the chance to compete again,” Galler-Rabinowitz emphasized. “Since our recess from skating together during January and February, we (and I think I can speak for both of us) have brought a renewed passion for the sport to our training this season. In addition, we have truly enjoyed skating together. We’ve become such great friends over the past eight years.”

The couple finished second in all three compulsory dances and the free dance and third in the original dance at their first event since returning to competition against the strongest senior dance field ever at the Lake Placid Ice Dance Championships in August. They are next scheduled to compete at the Cup of Russia in Saint Petersburg and then at the 2006 U.S. Nationals in St. Louis, Missouri. You can read more about then at their website,

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Skate Today was created in November 2004 to showcase the people of the skating world, skaters and coaches and others, who make figure skating and ice dancing a pleasure to watch for fans from around the world. The goal was to create a site that would give viewers an insight into the personalities of the people involved in this sport and to give you a more personal connection when watching them live at an event or on the television. Our staff knows how much time and dedication is put into this sport and that's why Skate Today was created.

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