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JE3 The Statement // Wednesday, February 10, 2010
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Editor in Chief.
The Statement is The Michigan
Daily's news magazine, distributed
every Wednesday during the
academic year. To contact The State-
met e-mail calero@michigandaily.
T our readers,
As you peruse the following pages of this week's issue of The Statement, you
may notice things look a little different. We'd like to offer an explanation for the
sudden change to ease any anxiety you may experience with the varied content and design.
To honor the start of the XXI Olympic Winter Games on Friday, The Statement has
teamed up with the Daily's sports staff to bring you our "Olympic Issue." Everyone loves
the Olympics - they give us the opportunity to root unabashedly for Team America, as
well as an very valid excuse to stay glued to the television for two weeks straight. Whether
you prefer skiing, bobsleigh or curling, the games provide something for everyone.
As proud Wolverines, we're ecstatic about the University's solid contingent of par-
ticipants heading to Vancouver to compete. With the help of our more athletic-minded
peers, we've compiled a group of what we believe to be some compelling stories of ath-
leticism, perseverance and straight-up awesomeness - as they relate to the maize and
With this special Olympic issue, we bring you the names and faces of Olympians past
and present who, when they weren't training for international competition, were attend-
ing class, writing papers and rocking Michigan T-shirts all over Ann Arbor.
Inthe112yearssince the startofthe modernOlympics,theUniversityhas seen20lof its
students and coaches compete in the games, winning a total of 133 medals. Hoping to add
to that number are two pairs of ice dancers - Meryl Davis (pictured bottom) and Charlie
White (pictured top), and Evan Bates and Emily Samuelson. Along with former Michigan
hockey player, Jack Johnson, these current and former Wolverines hope to do their school
So read on, and don't forget to look out for the amazing athletes on the following pages,
whether on the ice, the podium or next to you in class.
Trevor Calero and Allie White, Magazine Editor and Deputy Magazine Editor
Over the past two decades, a pair of Russian
coaches have helped Ann Arbor become a place
for America's ice dancing elite.
By Katie Field Magazine Staff Writer
Nobody produces figure skaters
like the Soviets. Athletically unpar-
alleled and artistically unrivaled,
the Soviet Union and later the Rus-
sian Federation, has taken home all
but two Olympic ice dance gold med-
als since the sport first appeared in
the games in 1976. In comparison,
the United States has only claimed
bronze and silver - never gold.
That could all change this winter
in Vancouver, where two pairs of
skaters from the University of Michi-
gan are expected to challenge Rus-
sia's dominance in the sport.
Regardless of their Olympic per-
formance this year, these skaters -
Charlie White and Meryl Davis, who*
three weeks ago won gold medal at
the U.S. Ice Dancing championships,
and Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates
- have already helped put Ann Arbor
on the map for world-class skating.
But Ann Arbor's rise to the skating
elite started long before these two
pairs enrolled at the University.
The past two decades have seen
an influx of former Soviet ice dance
champions streaming into Metro
Detroit ice rinks to train the state's
already vast supply of figure skating
talent. Through their efforts, these
coaches and choreographers have
helped transform Michigan, and Ann
Arbor, into an ice-dancing power-
Yaroslava Nechaeva and Yuri
Chesnichenko, known affectionately
as Yasa and Yuri to their athletes,
competed up until the 1992 World
Junior Figure Skating Champion-
ships - where they earned silver
medals - before trading Moscow for
Glancing over the banners hang-
ing on the wall at the Olympic rink in
the Ann Arbor Ice Cube, the tremen-
dous progress they have made in just
one decade is undeniable.
Perhaps there is no better example
of the quick results this elite training
style produces than Yasa and Yuri's
batch of up-and-coming skaters 'at
the Ann Arbor Figure Skating Club.
Of all the teams coming out of the
Ice Cube, Samuelson and Bates best
exemplify what can happen when a
strong technical background and rig-
orous dance training combine on the
Samuelson and Bates are sopho-
mores at the University, and the third
team selected to represent the United
States in ice dance at the Vancouver
Olympics this month. The rise of
Samuelson and Bates to international
prominence was propelled largely
through the training they received
from Yasa and Yuri.
"The best teams have Russian
coaches," Eric Bates, Evan Bates'
father and a University professor of
Internal Medicine, said in a phone
interview last week. "It's classic
Russian style that they have been
fortunate to be trained in from the
beginning. It gives them technical
benefits versus other couples that
TOP Coach Yuri-Chesnichenko analyzes video footage of Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates' free dance. BOTTOM Coach Yasa Nechaeva helps
the team with the high-paced footwork sequence in their original dance, which is performed to a Dixie Chicks medley.
Wednesday, February 10th, 2010
3-6 pm at The Michigan Union
- Explore not-for-profit career paths
" Discuss internship and full-time positions
" Learn about volunteer opportunities
" Discover ways to stay involved in
- Visit our website for a list of participating
For more mformation contact us at:
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don't have Russian coaches, or that
have Russian coaches in the middle
of their career rather than from the
Ask Yuri if there is a formula to
the success of these young Ameri-
can ice dance teams and he chuck-
les. Though he doesn't think there
is a formula, per se, for the success
of his skaters, it's clear they share
many things in common - they all
skate with the power and grace that
reflects a clear Russian influence.
Ice dance teams in the United
States are paired in much the same
way the Soviets paired their Olympic
champions. As Yasa and Yuri were
paired as young skaters in Moscow,
so were Bates and Samuelson, and
the expectations were just as high.
Gold was in the future.
"They had this girl in Novi who
they thought would be a good
match," Eric Bates said referring to
Samuelson. "That's how they do it
in this business; it's like an arranged
The training Bates and Samuelson
undergo to reach the elite ice dance
level requires true dedication to an
increasingly competitive sport. The
pressure of high level skating and
schooling exacerbates certain stress-
es that all students feel at one point or
another. To avoid being super seniors
for seven or eight years, Samuelson
and Bates take spring classes during
the time they're learning their new
As the pair practiced last week,
they looked tired and overwhelmed.
Going through a section of their
American country original dance
with the most difficult moves, Yasa
was focused on the range of exten-
sion of Samuelson's arm in one of the
The team was red-faced after a few
run-throughs, but at the end Yasa
was satisfied. This attention to detail
is essential for success. Every exten-
sion, edge and position is calculated
and controlled, accounted for and
Russian training provides a seem-
ingly unbeatable backdrop of skating
skills, but for generations, Russian
teams were on top because of their
innovative and creative programs.
See COACHES, Page 8B
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PRACTIC M A KES PERFECT Emily Samuelson and Evan Bates - who are both students at the University - have been skating together for almost 10 years. The pair, who earned the third spot on the U.S. Olympic
Ice Dance team three weeks ago, practice up to 7 hours a day, 6 days a week in preparation for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
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