Canada’s Brittany Jones and Kurtis Gaskell began skating together in March 2007 and quickly became successful. They placed second in Canada in novice pairs in 2008 and won the junior pairs gold medal in 2009.
Gaskell attributed their success to Jones’ work ethic. “She’s not lazy so that makes me work harder and we get a lot done,” he said.
“We’re very patient with each other,” Jones added. “A lot of couples fight, but we don’t fight ever.”
The couple won the bronze medal at their first international, the ISU Junior Grand Prix in Torun, Poland in September, but finished eighth in Dresden, Germany in October.
“We had hoped to make the JGP Final,” Gaskell said, “but we just skate and let things happen. We’re still age-eligible next season, but we’re undecided whether to compete in juniors again. Now we’re just hoping to do our best in seniors at Canadians.”
The couple have strong elements compared to many junior couples. They have been using a throw triple Salchow and side-by-side double flips in their short program as well as a double twist. For the long program, the duo has side-by-side double Lutzes and a double flip-double toe loop combination, a throw triple loop and throw triple Salchow, and a triple twist.
“We’ve had the triple twist almost since we started,” Gaskell said. “It’s a good element for us. A lot of people don’t have it. We were the only ones in Poland.”
“I like the pairs elements, twists and throws, more than just the jumps,” he added.
“We’re working on side-by-side double Axels,” Jones said, “but nothing else new.”
The late Paul Wirtz recruited Jones, who started skating at the age of six, to skate pairs in 2005. “My mom was an ice dancer so she put me in CanSkate, Jones recalled. The 13-year-old, who was tenth in pre-novice ladies in 2009, will be competing in novice ladies this season.
Gaskell’s parents were recreational skaters and they started him on the ice when he was two. He played recreational hockey, mainly as a defenseman, but sometimes as a forward, until he was 13, when he decided to concentrate on figure skating.
“I landed my first triple Salchow when I was 15 and have all the triples except the triple Axel,” Gaskell said, “but they’re not all consistent.” Last year, he made it to Sectionals in junior men.
“I started pairs six or seven years ago,” Gaskell said. “One of the coaches asked me to do pairs. The highest I got before Brittany was with Marisa MacLellan and we were around 15th in pre-novice in 2007.”
Former Canadian pairs champions Kristy and Kris Wirtz coach the skaters, who train in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, where Gaskell has trained since 2000 and Jones for the last three years. They normally work on the ice for three hours a day, five days a week.
“Then on Saturday, we have like a mini-competition with all eight of the pairs,” Jones added. “We do both our short and our long programs.”
Off ice, they have dance twice a week and spin class twice a week. He works four times a week on conditioning while she works with a personal trainer twice a week.
“Kristy usually picks our music and Mark Pillay choreographs our programs,” Gaskell said. “We usually skate to what our coaches want. Both of our programs are new this season. It’s good to have a change.”
For the short program, the duo skates to “The Ukraine”, while for the long they are using three pieces performed by Vanessa Mae – Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue” and Vivaldi’s “Winter” and “Spring”.
Kristy Wirtz choreographed the music for their gala program.
“I like fast and upbeat music,” Gaskell said. “I listen to techno, rap, rock and some country music, but I’m not very musical myself.” Jones, who used to play the trumpet in school, listens mainly to pop music.
She likes hanging out with friends and shopping, while he enjoys playing golf, riding a dirt bike, and playing video games.
Jones is in ninth grade and plans to attend university to study business. Gaskell has graduated from high school but hasn’t started college yet. “I’m concentrating on skating and figuring out what to do,” he said.