Flatt Wins International Challenge Cup

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Rachael Flatt

Californian Rachael Flatt’s junior international debut was a success as she won the International Challenge Cup in The Hague. Her only previous international competition was the 2005 Triglav Trophy in novice, which she also won. Flatt also did well at the 2007 U. S. Nationals when she finished fifth in senior ladies in her senior debut. The 2005 novice champion was second in junior ladies in 2006 before moving up. Next season, Flatt hopes to do the Junior Grand Prix series internationally while continuing to compete in seniors in the U.S.

Flatt’s parents both played hockey and she first went on the ice at 3 1/2 years of age. “I saw an ice show and wanted to try it,” she said. “So we went to public skating. Then when I was four, my Dad took me shopping for a birthday present for my Grandpa and we got tickets for skating lessons.” She was also involved in gymnastics, starting when she was five and continuing for four years. She won several local competitions, specializing in the uneven parallel bars. When she was asked to join the pre-National team, her skating coach told her she had to decide which sport she wanted and she picked skating. “Gymnastics helped me with my strength and flexibility,” Flatt noted.

The 14-year-old landed her first triple salchow when she was 12. She has been working on a triple axel and can do several triple-triple combinations including triple toe-triple toe, triple flip-triple toe, and triple lutz-triple toe, which she thinks is her best one. In both her junior and senior SP and FS programs, she currently uses the triple lutz-triple toe combination.

In addition to freestyle, Flatt competed in pairs for three years with Andrew Speroff. They placed second in juvenile pairs in 2003 and won intermediate pairs in 2004. “I liked watching pairs on television and thought it would be fun,” Flatt recalled. “I started out doing it recreationally, just for the experience. But we were really good together and learned all the elements quickly. But then Andrew got hurt and singles really took off for me. I might go back if I don’t do well in singles.” She has also tried ice dancing. “I’ve tested up through the silver dances,” she noted.

Flatt works with a team of coaches at the World Ice Arena in Colorado Springs, Colorado, headed by Tom Zakrajsek. “I’ve worked with Tom for six years and he’s been my primary coach for the last three years,” she said. “When I was eight, I moved from California to Boulder to train, and then when I was eleven, I moved to Colorado Springs.” She also works with Becky Calvin, Becky Bradley, Erik Schulz, and Eddie Shipstad. Flatt trains on ice for about three and a half hours a day, five days a week, and another hour and a half on Saturday.

Lori Nichol choreographed her 2006-07 short program to “Scherzo: Allegro Molto from Trio No. 1 in B Major, Opus 8″ by Brahms. “That was my first time working with Lori,” Flatt said. “She had the idea for the music when I first saw her.” Tom Dickson choreographed her long program to George Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”. “I was listening to the radio when I first heard it,” she said. “I loved the music and used it for my intermediate program. I said I’d use it again for my first time in seniors. I love Gershwin’s music. It’s perfect for my skating. I used ‘Summertime’ for one of my earlier programs.”

“I’ll have two new programs for next season,” Flatt continued. “I never keep a program for more than one season. It gives me a fresh take on the programs. I let the music inspire me in practice and competitions.” For exhibitions, Flatt uses “Black Horse and a Cherry Tree” by K. T. Tunstall. “Damon Allen found that music and choreographed the program for me,” she noted. Flatt plays the piano, and said “It helps me to feel the music better.” Off ice, she listens to everything except hard rock, heavy metal, techno and country.

Flatt will be a sophomore at Cheyenne Mountain High School in the fall, where she currently maintains a 4.0 average in the honors program. In junior high school, she made the Academic and Leadership Honor Roll for high grades. “My parents are both scientists,” she said, “so I like science and math. My Mom’s a molecular biochemist and my Dad’s a chemical engineer. I’m thinking of going into sports medicine. I wanted to be a veterinarian but all the vets I know are tall and I’m too short.”

She has three pets of her own, a cat and two Old English sheepdogs named Lucy and Ethel, from “I Love Lucy”, one of her favorite TV shows. She enjoys hanging out with friends, going to the movies, reading novels, playing tennis and going to the beach in the summer. Flatt also enjoys boogie boarding and surfing when she’s back home in California.

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