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Skate Today

U.S. Pewter Medalists Aim for Top

Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller

Britney Simpson and Nathan Miller, the 2009 U.S. national pewter medalists, won the bronze medal at the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Dresden, Germany in October and placed fourth at the ISU JGP in Lake Placid, New York, their first international event.

Their goals for the season include winning the junior pairs title at U. S. Nationals and reaching the podium at Junior Worlds.

Simpson, who is only 13, started skating when she was about five and a half.

“I was going swimming at the same place where they had a skating rink,” Simpson recalled. “I saw the girls skating in the sparkly dresses and I wanted to twirl around like they did. So I stopped swimming and started skating.”

Miller, who is 21, started out on the ice when he was five.

“I started playing hockey,” he said. “I liked to go fast and crash into things. But my best friend had a sister who was skating and I realized that there were more girls there than in hockey. I always liked girls so I signed up for skating. I did both until I was seven, then chose skating.”

“I got up to junior men, but quit singles skating about three or four years ago,” Miller continued. “I started pairs and dance when I was seven. In 2004, I was competing in all three. I was 12th in Sectionals in novice men, last in novice dance with Stacy Kim, and won novice pairs with Claire Davis.

Miller placed ninth in junior pairs with Davis in 2006, tenth with Ashlee Brown in 2007, then 12th with Davis again in 2008.

“I was Britney’s singles coach,” said Dalilah Sappenfield, who trains the pair. “I thought she would be great for pairs. I started her skating pairs with Larry (Ibarra) for six months and she had a real knack for it. Then I had to convince Nathan that she had the potential so he would do a tryout with her.”

The couple began training at the Broadmoor Skating Club in April 2008. They usually skate four 45-minute sessions five days a week and two sessions on Saturday. Simpson does Pilates and gym work off ice while Miller works with Larry Ibarra on a special training program three times a week or more.

The couple does a throw triple Salchow and side-by-side double Axels in the short program with a double twist. In their long program, they do a triple twist, throw triple Salchow and throw double loop, and side-by-side double flips and a double Axel-double Axel sequence.

For the short program, the couple is using music that Sappenfield has named “Asian Fusion”.

“I was at the Junior Grand Prix in Courchevel, France six years ago,” Sappenfield explained. “A man came up and gave me a CD of music that he composed himself and told me he thought Rocky (Brubaker) could skate to it. The CD didn’t have his name, just the music.”

“I had thought of using a Spanish piece,” Sappenfield continued, “but Britney has what we call the stare of death when Nathan does something she doesn’t like. I saw her and thought about that music. It requires really strong facial expressions. Suddenly I had a vision of what we could do with it, sort of a good versus evil thing. I did the program and designed the costumes myself, which I normally don’t do. I even have them go out before they start the program and do a fighting pose to set the mood.”

Their free skate is to Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”.

“I wanted something completely opposite from ‘Asian Fusion’ to show their diversity,” Sappenfield said. “So I had Zuzanna Szwed come out from Detroit and do the choreography. It’s a much more mature program than what they’ve done before.”

“We don’t have a show program yet,” Miller stated. “We want to do something playful.”

When he is not skating, Miller listens to all kinds of music, especially hip hop and rock, while Simpson likes pop, rock and country.

To relax, Simpson enjoys sewing, playing board games, putting together jigsaw puzzles, watching musical theater and reading, especially the Twilight and American Girl series. She also collects American Girl dolls. Miller’s interests include playing miniature golf and pickup football, video games, cooking and watching sports on television, especially college and pro football.

Miller has graduated from high school and is planning to return to college after this year. He currently works as a server and cook and hopes to eventually open his own restaurant.

Simpson is in the eighth grade, taking courses online through Colorado Connections Academy. She was an honor student last year. She plans to attend university, hoping to become a physician.

Both skaters are involved in community service.

Simpson’s mother developed a program for developmentally disabled students in the Mapleton Public School District in Colorado that includes skating lessons as part of the curriculum. Simpson and Miller, as well as other skaters from the Broadmoor Skating Club, help the students learn to skate. Simpson also volunteers to read to the disabled students.

Simpson, who is part Cherokee Indian, has also adopted a whale to help support the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.

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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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