Canadian Novice Champions Enjoy Last Year as Juniors

Articles, Articles by Barry Mittan

Olivia Nicole Martins and Alvin Chau

Canada’s Olivia Nicole Martins and Alvin Chau are skating their last season on the international Junior Grand Prix Circuit as Chau will age out next year. The 2009 Canadian novice dance champions placed sixth at their two ISU JGP events in Dresden, Germany and Budapest, Hungary.

“We were happy just to get two Junior Grand Prixs this year,” Martins said. “Now our goal is to make the top five in juniors at Canadians and hopefully make it to Junior Worlds. We want to continue as long as we’re doing well.”

Chau, 20, was a late starter in skating. His first activity was swimming, which he began when he was four. Then he took piano lessons when he was six and seven. Finally, his mother put him into CanSkate when he was nine.

He competed up to novice men, reaching sixth at Sectionals and landing his double Axel, but never learned any triple jumps. When he was 15, Chau switched to ice dancing. “I was testing my dances and my coach told my mother I should try competing in ice dancing,” he said.

Chau competed with Lauren Pelfier, placing sixth in pre-novice dance in 2005 and ninth in novice in 2006, but she outgrew him.

Martins, who will be 18 on November 26, started skating when she was four. “My parents wanted me to learn to skate,” she said. “I was in the test stream rather then the competition stream until I was eleven when I started dance. I was always better at the compulsory dances than free skating.”

“I practiced in the summer with my dance coach and Jason Cusmarin,” she continued. “We were ninth in pre-novice at Eastern Challenge in 2005. Then I skated with Simon Gagnon and we were eighth at Nationals in novice in 2006.”

“Alvin and I started skating together in April 2006,” Martins said. “We both broke up with our partners about the same time and had the same coaches so they put us together.”

“Alvin is very competitive and we get along really well,” Martins said. “Olivia is very animated and she makes things fun,” Chau said of his partner.

The dancers train at the Scarborough Figure Skating Club with a team of coaches including Carol and Jon Lane, Juris Razgulajevs and Donna Iijima. They train on ice for three hours a day six days a week and off ice for another 2-3 hours a day. That includes ballet, ballroom and fitness classes.

Carol Lane and Razgulajevs choreographed the couple’s dances for the 2009-10 season. For the original dance, they are using “Dhoom Taana”.

“It’s a Bollywood wedding ceremony song,” Martins said. “We wanted to do something different this year and Bollywood has become more popular.”

For their free dance, Martins and Chau are skating to “Historia De Un Amour” by Perez Prado, “Fruko’s Boogaloo” and “Let’s Salsa”.

“It’s a Latin medley of rhumba and samba,” Chau noted. “After Nationals last year, our coach said we should do Latin. I found the rhumba music and Olivia found the samba. We do better with Latin programs.”

“That’s our favorite style,” Martins agreed. “Our ultimate favorite compulsory is the Tango Romantica.”

Chau listens to mainstream radio music, while Martins has varied interests. “My mom is a piano teacher so I listen to classical,” she said. “My dad likes Latin and my brother likes rock so I listen to that too.”

Chau used to play volleyball and participate in track and cross country meets for his school, competing in the high jump, triple jump and 100 meter hurdles. He likes to play golf, hang out with friends, and do things on his computer.

Martins likes to hang out with friends, play soccer and go to Canada’s Wonderland in the summer.

Both Martins and Chau are in their first year of studies in kinesiology at York University. “I plan to do a double major with languages,” Chau said. “I’m taking as many classes as I can.”"I want to do physiotherapy with other athletes,” Martins added.

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