Tuesday, 7/4/2020 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Novice Dancers Have High Hopes

Amanda Bertsch and Sam Rashba

Amanda Bertsch and Sam Rashba have yet to compete together but have high hopes for the season. They plan to compete first at Pike’s Peak in Colorado. After that, Bertsch said, “We’re hoping to make it to Nationals and medal.”

Yaroslava Nechaeva and Yuri Chesnichenko coach Bertsch and Rashba, who spend about three and a half hours a day on ice five days a week plus another two hours on Sunday.

“We do two ballet sessions and a ballroom session each week,” Bertsch added, “plus running etc. for warm up.”

“I don’t spend too much time in the gym,” Rashba explained. “Yuri doesn’t want dancers to get too bulky or too stiff because you need a wide range of motion for dance.”

“We’re working a lot on our spins to get faster,” he continued. “I had done the same spin for two years and so learning a new one has been a challenge. They are hard to learn and keep consistent.”

“We also spend more time getting our footwork and edges clean and polishing our compulsories,” Bertsch added.

“We’re trying to anticipate each other’s movements,” Rashba noted. “Other couples know each other’s moves but we’re still getting used to each other.”

Bertsch started skating when she was seven. “I did ballet and gymnastics and swimming for two or three years for fun, but then I saw Michelle Kwan and decided that’s what I wanted to do,” she recalled. “I started doing freestyle at Arctic Edge eight years ago.”

“I started ice dancing when I was eleven,” she continued. “My coach recommended me to Yuri. I had tested freestyle but wasn’t competing.”

“I started skating when I was eleven,” Rashba said. “I wanted to speed skate but I was too short to do long track and my parents thought short track was too dangerous.”

“I competed in singles but had some back injuries,” he added. “I switched to dance because some of the dance coaches at my rink thought I would be good at it. Eventually I grew to love it more than freestyle when I first competed a free dance at age 15.”

Rashba competed in juvenile dance with Sarah Yasenka, placing eighth in 2007, then with Katherine Zeigler, finishing eighth in intermediates in 2008 and ninth in novice in 2009.

“Katherine was already 18 so she would be aging out of juniors,” Rashba said, “so staying together would have limited my opportunities to ever compete at a Junior Grand Prix. So we split up and she started with Baxter Burbank.”

“Afterwards, I was searching for colleges and planned to go to the University of Michigan,” Rashba said. “My coach talked to Yaroslava and recommended me as a good match for Amanda.”

“It was a gradual process,” Rashba explained. “Last March, we started to skate together a little bit, then in June we really started full-time. I was in Elmsford, New York before and had to be introduced to the training program here in Ann Arbor.”

Nechaeva and Chesnichenko choreographed the couple’s free dance for the upcoming season.

“We’re using gypsy music because Yuri thought we looked like gypsies,” Bertsch said. “It’s fun to skate to. We both like it. Yuri does lots of these kinds of programs because they’re good for learning expressions, but not too dramatic.”

“I’ll skate to anything,” Rashba noted. “I tend to not like one particular style. I get tired of the same old thing. I’d like to try a little bit of everything.”

“I’m not big on rock and roll,” Bertsch stated. “I like Latin music and music with special distinguishing characteristics.”

Both skaters play the piano and Rashba hopes to learn the guitar or drums later on.

Rashba goes to a lot of concerts. “I’m really into music,” he said, “but I have unusual tastes. I like technical death metal and rock, but not hip hop or country.” “I like all kinds of music except heavy metal,” Bertsch countered.

Off ice, she likes to hang out with friends and go swimming. “I play the piano for fun,” she added.

Rashba also likes to hang out with friends, but loves to read, watch movies, draw, and paint. “I’m a big perfectionist when I do art”, he said. “I like to get all the little details just right.”

Bertsch is a junior at Greenhill High School, while Rashba is a freshman at the University of Michigan.

About Us

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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