France’s second veteran senior dance team is that of Nathalie Pechalat (24) and Fabian Bourzat (27). The dancers won their third straight silver medal at French Nationals after winning the bronze the previous two years. They also won the French junior dance title twice. They couple has placed as high as sixth at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in 2002, 11th at the Europeans Championships in 2005, 15th at Worlds in 2006, and 18th at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games. They also won bronze medals at the Winter Universiade in 2005 and Skate America in 2006. “We plan to go for one more Olympic Games,” Bourzat stated. “For three, we would be too old and I want to have a family. And we both have something else to do after skating when we finish our studies.”
Pechalat first tried ballet when she was six, then experimented with synchronized swimming. When she was seven, she started skating. “My mom liked to watch skating on television so she decided to take me and my two sisters ice skating one day. I liked it and started lessons. I liked jumping, but not falling so when a new coach for ice dancing came to our rink and told me it would be good for me to skate dance, I began dancing. I was eleven.” Bourzat’s memories of his beginnings are more vague. “I don’t remember exactly but it was something about girl,” he said. “I was about eight. My first coach found me a partner and told me it would be better for me, so I started dancing.”
“I had five other partners before Nathalie but we became a team immediately,” he added. “My partner had retired and there was another girl who wanted to skate with me, but Nathalie can express the music more than other girls.” “My last partner had left and I was all alone,” Pechalat recalled. “My coach told me he had a good partner for me and put me with Fabian. He is a most beautiful skater. He has great motivation and is a very hard worker. He’s the best partner I could have.” “We are a couple in each moment,” Bourzat added.
The dancers have both worked with Muriel Zazoui and Romain Haguenauer for the last eight years. Four days a week, they spend four hours on ice, and for two days a week, they practice two hours. They only spend about an hour in off ice work during the season, mainly in dance classes. They only take ballet during the summer.
“I like the compulsory dances because it’s like a game,” Pechalat said. “Everybody does the same thing.” “The hardest dances are my favorites, like the Tango Romantica,” Bourzat added. “I hate classical music because everyone skates to it and it’s not interesting,” Pechalat said. “It’s too boring. I want to do something with a new theme and new ideas. I like our free dances because of their originality.”
Their free dances over the past few seasons have reflected the couple’s spirit. “They are our coach’s idea,” Bourzat said. “She thought it would be better for us to try and express a story. In 2003-2004, their free dance portrayed the story of Che Guevara using music like “Dance of the Soldiers” by the Red Army Choir, “Hasta Siempre”, and “Demasia da Corazon”. The next season they portrayed scenes from “Cats” although they weren’t allowed to use their masks except during exhibitions.
For the Olympic season, they danced to the French favorite, “Les Miserables”. And for the 2006-07 season, they skated their free dance to “Four Seasons”, composed and arranged for them by Assen Merzouki. Their original dance was to “Mi Buenos Aires Querido” by Carlos Libendinsky and “Escualo” by Astor Piazzolla. Laurie May choreographed their original dance, while Mourad Merzouki did the free. Off ice, Pechalat likes to listen to hip-hop, reggae, jive, and pop music. She likes karaoke and used to play the saxophone. Bourzat likes “any kind that is not boring.”
“I like going out with my friends for shopping and going to French cinema and parties,” Pechalat noted. “I also want to do road races.” She thinks cooking is boring but has one specialty, chocolate cake. His hobbies include dancing and using his computer for music, games, email and surfing the Internet on the computer. He also reads crime stories and books by James Connelly and enjoys watching movies. “I like the movie where we understand it only at the end,” he explained. As for other sports interests, he kite surfs while she dives. He used to swim and take judo, while she has also gone wall climbing. She used to collect miniature perfume bottles, while he collected beer coasters.
“I like to travel a lot,” Bourzat said. “My favorite trip was to Chad in middle Africa.” “I liked Istanbul, Quebec City, and Norway,” Pechalat said. “I liked the history and the churches, the food and the ambience in Istanbul.” In addition to French and English, she speaks a little Italian while he speaks some Spanish.
Pechalat has finished college in sports management, while Bourzat is nearing the end of university studies to become an osteopathic physician. “I want to be in general practice and perhaps work with children,” he said.