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Skate Today

Steele and Schultz Have Auspicious Start

Taylor Steele and Robert Schultz

Canada’s Taylor Steele and Robert Schultz have high hopes that their partnership will be a good one. Both of the skaters have been skating pairs for over eight years but never found the perfect match.

“I started in pairs when my first coaches paired me up with another boy because I was tiny,” Steele stated.

She won bronze medals nationally with Donald Jackson in pre-novice pairs in 2004 and novice pairs in 2005, and then teamed up with Robert Paxton, taking bronze in junior pairs in 2006. She took off the 2006-07 season to concentrate on singles, and then returned to skate with Chris Richardson, placing ninth and eighth in senior pairs in 2008 and 2009.

“I always had partners who were too old or I was always too young,” Steele noted. “I wanted a partner who was still age eligible for the Junior Grand Prix circuit and Alison Purkiss recommended Rob. We had tried out together years ago but it wasn’t the right time. This time our tryout went really well and I moved to Cambridge in July 2009.”

Schultz started skating pairs when he was 12 skating with Jordan Hunt of Cambridge. They were fourth in juvenile in 2005, fourth in pre-novice in 2006 and fifth in novice in 2007.

“Our goal was to make it to the Junior Grand Prix circuit,” Schultz said. “We competed at Thornhill and Summer Sizzle and did well enough to get assigned to the Junior Grand Prix in Poland in September. We finished fifth there so they told us we could also do Dresden.”

“It was really fun,” Steele said. “That was the first time we had done an international competition. It was cool to see all the people from other countries.”

The couple finished ninth in the ISU Junior Grand Prix Pokal deu Blauen Schwerter in Dresden, Germany in October.

“Now we want to make the junior national team and finish on the podium at Nationals,” Steele added.

Steele, a 17-year-old from Strathroy, first started skating when she was three. “My mother was a competitive figure skater and she wanted me to learn how to skate,” Steele recalled. By 14, Steele was landing a triple Salchow and triple toe loop.

Although she started doing pairs when she was six, Steele still competes in freestyle, finishing fifth in junior ladies last year at Sectionals. She will have two new programs in ladies this year, both choreographed by Suzie McGregor. “My short is to slow Latin music while the long is kind of classical,” she noted.

“I haven’t tried dancing at all,” she noted. “A dancer I am not.”

Schultz, 20, who is originally from Puslinch, Ontario, began skating when he was four. “My parents weren’t skaters but they wanted me to learn so they took me to the rink,” he said. “I didn’t like the hockey skates so I started in figure skating and never played hockey.”

He landed his first triple jump, a triple Salchow, when he was 13 and continues to compete in senior men. So far, his highest placement was fifth in junior men at Canadians in 2009. This season, he will be using his old long program, a mix of music from Sublime and George Gershwin’s “Summertime” choreographed by Sebastien Britten. His new short program will be a classical piece choreographed by Susie McGregor.

Kevin Wheeler coaches the couple, who train in Cambridge, Ontario. Between their singles and pairs training, they work on ice for about six hours a day five days a week and do another hour or two of off-ice training daily.

The couple include side-by-side double Axels and a throw triple Salchow in their short program. In their free program, they also do a throw double loop and side-by-side double flip-double toe loop combination. They are working on adding another throw triple, side by side triple jumps and improving their speed and power.

Susie McGregor choreographed the duo’s new short program for the 2009-10 season. They are skating to “Malena” by Ennio Morricone. “It’s a slow classical piece,” Steele said. “Susie picked it for us because it was a mature piece and it matched our style of skating well.”

McGregor also choreographed their free program, also new this season, using “Street Music” by William Russo. “It’s bluesy, and fun. We really enjoy skating to it; it complements our personalities really well.” Steele says.

“I like to skate to something fun so I can get into it,” said Schultz, while Steele said, “I like music that tells a story.”

Steele, who used to play the piano and flute, enjoys listening to country music, while Schultz likes listening to his favorite band, Sublime.

“I try to have a social life too,” Steele said. “I like to have a balance between skating and my friends outside the rink. I also like to read a lot, especially the Twilight series. I absolutely adore it.”

Schultz prefers hanging out with friends, playing golf and water sports if he has time.

He has finished high school and plans to go to university after skating.

Steele is in her final year of high school and plans to study either sociology or psychology at university. “I’ve always had a thing for sports psychology,” she said. “I’d like to help athletes like myself.”

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