Aussie McNamara’s a Real Crowd Pleaser

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Robert McNamara

Australian Robert McNamara was a big hit in his first international senior competition at the 2006 Four Continents Championships in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Although he only finished 22nd, he got a loud ovation from the audience for his interpretation of Leonard Bernstein’s “West Side Story” in his long program. The program was new for 2005-06 although his short program was the same as 2004-05.

“I always pick my own music,” said McNamara. “Last year I was going through some dark times so I used ‘Sagittair’ by Rene Aubry for my short program. It really suited my mood then, but now I can’t relate to it. I wanted to get something happier for my long program. I really liked West Side Story and I thought I could skate well to it. I like exciting music. I’m not into classical.” For an exhibition program, McNamara used music by Herbie Hancock. “I saw Ilia Kulik doing it and liked it,” he said. “It’s very robotic.”

For the 2006-07 season, kept his long program and used “Dueling Banjos” and “Orange Blossom Special” for his short. “I did a country and western theme in Canada in 2005 for Junior Worlds and they loved it,” he said, “so I thought I’d try it again. I can’t jump that well so I put my energy into entertaining skating, like halftime entertainment.” He does much of his own choreography together with Ekaterina Borodotova.

McNamara, who comes from Southport in Queensland, first became interested in skating when he was five. “My family lives only a short way from Dreamworld on the Gold Coast,” he recalled. “They have an ice show there and I liked watching Michael Pasfield and Robyn Burley. In between shows, you’re allowed to skate on public sessions and I really liked it. I get to entertain and show off.” He has trained with Collin Jackson since 2002.

The 18-year-old trains for four hours a day, five days a week at Acacia Ridge Ice Rink in Brisbane and does another 20 hours a week of off ice work. He landed his first triple salchow when he was 14 and included a triple salchow, triple loop, triple salchow-double toe loop and double axel-double toe in his long program last season. This season, he plans to work on a quadruple salchow and a triple axel as well as improving the consistency of the other triple jumps.

“I’m just not a good jumper,” he admitted. “I can jump high but I can’t coordinate the landing.” Even so, he didn’t switch to dance or pairs. “They wanted me to try dance, but I couldn’t find a girl,” he said. “I prefer to go solo because I can blame myself for my mistakes.”

McNamara won the junior men’s title in Australia in 2004-5 and 2005-6, but finished second in 2006-7 although he won the long. He was sent to Four Continents in 2006 because Australia only had two senior men at Nationals that season. This season, McNamara competed in both juniors and seniors in Australia, finishing fourth in seniors. “I hope to get a Junior Grand Prix assignment and a senior assignment and return to Junior Worlds,” he said. He has appeared at Junior Worlds twice but failed to make it out of the qualifying round. He finished 14th at his only Junior Grand Prix in Japan in 2005, but took second at the Dragon Trophy in Slovenia that year. He plans to skate at least until 2010.

He enjoys going to the beach, body boarding, nightclubbing and listening to music. “I like music and I play the piano and the violin,” he said. “I like to listen to R and B, hip hop, rap. I love going to Dreamworld and watching the shows and riding the rides.” He also likes listening to music on his computer and looking at the results of skating competitions.

Although he has finished high school, McNamara has no fixed career plans. He would like to work in an ice show like the ones at Dreamworld. Currently, he works five hours a week at the ice rink.

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