Saturday, 18/11/2017 | : : UTC-8
Skate Today

Greece Fields First Dance Team

Christa-Elizabeth Goulakos and Eric Neumann-Aubichon

Greece, the birthplace of the Olympic Games, has committed to expanding its participation in the Winter Olympics including figure skating. This season, the country fielded its first ice dancing team at ISU senior competitions, Christa-Elizabeth Goulakos and Eric Neumann-Aubichon. The couple finished 26th in their competitive debut at the 2007 European Championships in January. “My family’s from Greece and I always wanted to represent them in internationals,” Goulakos said. “I hope we can compete as seniors for the next ten years and make my family proud.”

“It was a nice surprise to get to Europeans,” she continued. “It was my first competition in dance. I learned a lot from the other dancers. Everyone was so nice to us. I see them as mentors more than competitors right now.” “We got to see some fantastically talented skaters,” Neumann-Aubichon added. “It gave us something to look forward to.”

Both skaters come from athletic families. Her father was a highly ranked university hockey player in Canada and was drafted by the National Hockey league’s Montreal Canadiens as a defenseman. Her mother was a competitive equestrienne. “My father told me I had to learn to skate because we lived in Canada,” Goulakos recalled. “He took me to the rink when I was four.” In freestyle skating, she learned all of her jumps up to the triple toe loop and completed her tests through junior ladies. But her only medal came in pre-novice, when she was the Quebec ladies champion.

The tall 19-year-old also participated in track and field in high school, running sprints and hurdles for three years. She started ice dancing in 2006. “I always liked steps more than jumps,” she stated. “I knew I had more potential in dance because of my body type and I always wanted to go to international competitions. I knew I had a better chance in dance than in ladies.”

Neumann-Aubichon’s father also played AAA hockey as a defenseman, while his mother was a freestyle figure skater. He started skating when he was only two. In singles, he also learned his jumps up to a double axel and triple toe and competed in the Quebec Games, but didn’t make it to Nationals. “I wasn’t making any progress in singles and I had done some local dance competitions when I was young,” he recalled. “I started taking club tests in dance at eight and started competing seriously with Ashley Fjelheim when I was 14. We were fourth in pre-novice dance in 2000.” Neumann-Aubichon then competed at Canadian Nationals with Alice Graham, winning the novice dance gold medal in 2002 and finishing eighth in juniors in 2003.

After Graham teamed up with Andrew Poje, Neumann-Aubichon went into coaching for a year and a half. But Goulakos’ coach had been looking for a partner for her for a year and suggested that he tryout with her. “I knew I hadn’t reached my full potential in dance so I figured why not,” he said. The couple began training together in July 2006.

The dancers train in Montreal and Pointe-Claire, Quebec, Canada with Canadian senior ice dancers Chantal Lefebvre and Arseniy Markov as their coaches. “It’s great for us to be able to train with them because they can dance with us and show us exactly what to do,” Goulakos said. “I can dance with Arseniy while Eric watches and then he can dance with Chantal.” They work for four hours a day five days a week on ice.

Lefebvre and Markov also choreographed the couple’s 2006-07 programs. They used “Libertango” by Astor Piazzola for their original dance and “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Benny Goodman and “Bei Mir Bist Du Schron” by Janis Siegel for the free dance. “I found that music,” Neumann-Aubichon said. “I always wanted to skate to ‘Swing Kids” and I figured now was the time.” Off ice she listens to “everything but country”, while he prefers 70’s rock.

Goulakos is in her second year of studies at Centennial College in Montreal. She hopes to get a job in the fashion business and enjoys designing her own clothes. Neumann-Aubichon has completed his CEGEP studies and is continuing his work as a skating coach, teaching 20 hours a week in dance, freestyle and stroking. “When I was young, I didn’t want to be a coach, but now I really enjoy it,” he said. “I may go to university in the future to study sociology when I have some time.”

Off ice, he enjoys reading. “I pick an author, read all of his books, then move on to the next one,” he said. “I’ve been through Stephen King and Anne Rice and now I’m working on Robert Ludlum.” He also plays soccer in the summer. Goulakos said, “I like to hang out with my friends and have a normal teenage life. I like to be social with normal people who aren’t skaters. Since my Dad works in television, I go to a lot of hockey games, concerts and shows. I keep concert tickets and all sorts of odd things that have a special meaning to them.”

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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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