Desert Dwellers Find Success on Ice

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Chelsi Guillen and Danny Curzon

Arizona natives Chelsi Guillen and Danny Curzon, who turned 15 and 21 respectively in May, went to their first ISU championships when they competed at the World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria last winter. They finished tenth overall, scoring a personal best in the short.

“Getting to come here has been such a treat,” Curzon said, “kind of like the cherry on top of the year Each competition we’ve gotten a little bit better, We’ve finished this program off on a good note.” “At the beginning of the season, it wasn’t really a goal for us,” Guillen said. “We just hoped to skate good at Nationals and see what would happen. It’s so amazing to come here to skate.”

The duo placed eighth in junior pairs at U. S. Nationals in 2007, and then took the bronze medal in 2008. Curzon had finished eighth in juniors with a previous partner, Katie Boxwell, in 2006. He also competed with Jenna Yount and Molly Aaron.

“Chelsi had only been skating pairs for six months before Nationals last year,” coach Doug Ladret noted. “We went from very basic simple programs to top level junior programs very quickly. Chelsi had to take all the tests up though junior in a three-month timeframe. They went from a left field idea to a Junior Worlds team very quickly.”

The two first got together in May 2006. “I had coached Chelsi in singles for a while,” said Ladret. “Then her mother called me when she heard that Danny was looking for a partner. I knew her well and she had a great attitude. The tryout went well and Chelsi asked to go back fulltime with me.”

“I had been looking for girls who had split with other partners,” Curzon said. “I made a lot of calls and sent lots of emails but didn’t have any luck. Then one day Doug asked me to do a local tryout with Chelsi. She got everything the first time.”

Curzon began to skate when he was seven. “My brother and I wanted to play hockey, but my mom tricked us into taking figure skating lessons because she said it would be easier,” he recalled. “We liked it so we kept on going, but my brother quit when he was in high school.”

“I competed in singles for about five years and got up to a double axel by the time I was 15, but singles wasn’t my strong suit,” he continued. “I only made it up to regionals in novice men. I can do triple salchow and triple toe. I landed my first triple toe loop on Valentine’s Day two years ago. My girlfriend had car problems and I had to go help her, then I raced back to the rink and landed two perfect triple toes.”

“I started pairs about ten years ago because it seemed like it was more fun with the lifts and throws and death spirals,” he continued. “It’s fun skating with someone so you’re not lonely on the ice.”

Guillen started when she was five. “My sister was playing softball but that was too hot,” she remembered. “I wanted something cool to do so my mom put us in classes. I got up to a double axel when I was eleven and have landed a triple salchow in practice but it was cheated. I got up to eighth in novice at Sectionals.”

Ladret and his wife Lara coach the skaters, who train in Scottsdale, Arizona. They usually practice for about three hours a day, five days a week on ice. They do off ice training three times a week, including flexibility and jump classes and some dance and ballet. Guillen also does Pilates and yoga and also cycles in the summer.

The couple included side-by-side double axels and a throw triple toe loop in their short program. Their long program included throw triple salchow and triple toe loop, side-by-side double axel-double toe sequence, and a side-by-side double flip. “We’re working on side by side triple salchow and triple toe this summer,” Ladret said. “We were working on the jumps last summer but Chelsi hurt her PCL so we had to back off.”

The Ladrets choreographed the pair’s programs, both of which were new for the 2007-08 season. For the short program, the couple used music from the soundtrack of “Platoon”. “I heard the music on my high school history class,” Curzon recalled. “It was incredible music but I knew I couldn’t do it justice by myself. But I made a mental note of it and then Doug suggested it for our short.” The part they used was “Adagio for Strings” by Samuel Barber.

“Lara found the music for the long,” Ladret noted. “She was watching the Antonio Banderas Zorro on television and said no one had used the soundtrack in a while. It was just spicy enough to highlight Chelsi.” They used “The Mask of Zorro” soundtrack by James Horner.

For the 2008-09 season, the couple will again have two new programs. “We will be skating to music from the film ‘Atonement’ for the long, and we’re still piecing together a jazz piece for our short program,” Curzon stated.

Off ice, Guillen likes to listen to rock, country and Latino music, while Curzon enjoys alternative rock and country music.

Curzon enjoys playing golf on the weekends, sometimes playing with Ladret. He also likes to sail. He collects flags from the countries in which he’s competed.

Guillen likes to go boating and fishing with her family. “I like outdoor stuff,” she said. She also plays softball and volleyball. She collects skating pins.

Curzon is a junior at Arizona State University, where he is studying English literature. “I didn’t want to be another business major,” he said. “It doesn’t hurt to have an English degree. I wanted to study something I really enjoyed. Why should I do something I don’t like? I don’t have any specific future plans but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I have the rest of my life to work.”

Guillen is home schooled and just finished her first year of high school. “I want to go to the university to study to be a physician assistant,” she stated. “That’s always interested me. I’ve met a lot of impressive doctors through skating.”

The couple will be competing in seniors during the 2008-09 season. “It’s time to move on,” Curzon said. “I’ve aged out and it’s time to play with the big dogs.”

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