The 2008 Canadian junior dance title went to the team of Kharis Ralph and Asher Hill. The dancers’ goal for the season was only to make the podium at Canadians after winning in novice dance last season and in pre-novice dance in 2006, but they took the top spot for the third consecutive season.
“We didn’t expect to win or to go to Junior Worlds at all,” Ralph said. They finished eighth at Junior Worlds, even though they had failed to medal at either of their Junior Grand Prixs or to make the JGP Final. The couple placed fourth at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Lake Placid, New York and seventh at the JGP in Sheffield, England.
“We’ll be going senior next year,” Ralph noted. “We never thought we would get this far together, but we like a challenge too.” Hill also expects to continue skating in singles. “I want to skate forever and ever,” he said. “Both give me a thrill.”
Hill began skating when he was five. “I didn’t want to do it, but my twin sister Acacia did,” he remembered. “My mother put us both into skating because she wanted to do it. Eventually I got into it.” Hill, who placed 13th at the 2008 Canadians in junior men, landed his first triple jump at the age of 15, a triple loop. He now has all the triples up to the triple lutz, but not a triple axel.
Ralph, who turned 16 in April, was born in Washington, DC but moved to Canada as a child. “My mother was originally from the Philippines,” she stated, “but she told me all Canadians should know how to skate. I started when I was six, then went into dance when I was seven. My coach was a scout for dance and said I looked graceful when I skated and that was a plus.”
Hill started dancing when he was ten. “A lot of the figure skaters at my club also did solo dance so I did solo dance too,” he noted. “I tried dancing with a few partners, but didn’t compete with them. I started dancing with Kharis six years ago. She had always skated solo at our club but wanted to dance with a partner. Then Mary Jane Stong told my mother that I was artistic and graceful in figure skating and should try dance, so my mother wanted me to do it. When we started, our dance coach said I had two left feet and no timing.”
Carol Lane coaches the dancers, who train in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada. They train for two hours a day six days a week. In addition, Hill practices his freestyle skating for two to three hours a day, every day, with Vesna Markovitch at the York Region Skating Academy.
Carol Lane and Juris Razgulajevs choreographed their programs for the 2007-08 season. For their country-folk original dance, the couple skated to “Umoja”, a South African folk dance. “It’s from a South African Broadway show,” Hill noted. “Our coach chose it because there was a lot of Italian and eastern European gypsy stuff being used for the original dance and we wanted to be different.”
For their free dance, Ralph and Hill used “Rainforest” by Karl Jenkins. “The free dance was the same as we had last year in novice and we just expanded it,” Ralph explained. We kept it because when we used it in novice, it worked right away. We decided to use it again rather than change it because we had more work to do to improve.”
In singles, Hill used “The Warm Nights”, a percussion piece, for his short and “Blues for Klook” for the long. Markovitch choreographed his programs.
Off ice, Hill listens to everything including hip hop, rap, and rock, but no heavy metal, while Ralph listens to what she styled as angry rock such as “My Chemical Romance”. She has played the piano since she was four and noted, “it helps with counting the beat.” Hill used to play both the cello and the clarinet. “In my school, everyone played stringed instruments,” he added.
Hill is a senior at Dunbarton High School, where he enjoys history, biology and classical studies. “I’m thinking of going into science at university,” he said, ” but my backup plan is to be a skating coach or choreographer.” Ralph is in tenth grade at Branksome Hall, an all girls school. Her primary interest is in languages and she is studying French, Spanish and Mandarin as well as English. She plans to study something other than math or science at university.
To relax, Ralph enjoys reading the classics and watching dramas and comedies at the movies. Hill likes to read satires, mysteries and fantasy books and watches comedy and horror movies. He also enjoys outdoor activities like hiking and skiing.