Golden Skate

Pflumm and Pottenger: A Promising Pair

Figure skaters Kaela Pflumm, 16, and Christopher Pottenger, 20, placed fourth in junior pairs in their first year together at the 2006 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships.

Kaela Pflumm, 16, and Christopher Pottenger, 20, placed fourth at the 2006 U.S. National Figure Skating Championships in their first year together after winning the Eastern Sectionals. They had hoped to reach higher this past season, but again finished fourth.

Their goals for the 2006-07 were to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final, medal at the U.S. National Championships, and qualify for Junior Worlds. Next season, they plan to compete in juniors internationally and seniors in the U.S. The team was recently assigned to the Junior Grand Prix in Tallinn, Estonia which is slated for Sept. 20-23, 2007.

“We want to continue competing as long as we’re having fun and think we can accomplish something,” said Pottenger.

Internationally, Pflumm and Pottenger placed fifth at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final after finishing fifth at the JGP event in Taipei City and taking a silver medal in Budapest, Hungary. The couple skated a personal best in the long program at the Final, finishing third in the free skate.

Both began skating when they were three-years-old.

“My two brothers were playing hockey and my mother brought me to rink for their practices and let me skate too,” Pflumm said.

Pflumm has landed all her jumps up to the triple lutz and continues to compete in singles. She finished tenth at Sectionals in junior ladies during the 2006-07 season. She started skating pairs when she was ten, first competing in Juvenile pairs with Brady Chin.

Pottenger followed his older brother, Steven, into figure skating when he was three. He reached Sectionals in novice men, having landed all the jumps through the double Axel, but decided to quit skating singles three years ago.

“I decided to devote all my energies to pairs,” he said.

Pottenger started pairs when he was 13 and competed at U.S. Nationals with Sydney Schmidt. Schmidt and Pottenger were the 2002 U.S. Intermediate pairs champions, 2003 Novice pairs champions, and finished eighth in junior pairs in 2005. Pottenger’s brother also competed both in singles and pairs, and the siblings made history by being the first brothers to win the U.S. Nationals in the same discipline at different levels in the same year when Christopher won in Novice pairs and his brother won in Junior pairs with partner, Amy Howerton.

Pflumm and Pottenger paired up in June 2005 after Pottenger called coaches in Delaware looking for tryouts.

“He’s a strong skater and we look good together,” Pflumm said. “We get along really well.”

They train at the University of Delaware with a team of coaches that includes Ron Ludington, Jeremy Allen and Tiffany Scott. The team trains for three hours a day, five days a week (as a pair) plus another hour or two freestyle sessions (individually). They also have another hour or more of off-ice training daily.

Throws are Pflumm’s favorite part of doing pairs.

“It’s cool being that high up,” she said.

The couple incorporated a throw triple lutz in their 2006-07 long program and a throw triple salchow in the short.

“Kaela is unusually consistent at throws,” Pottenger noted. He likes lifts. “When they’re unique, you can make yourselves different from other teams.”

Their side-by-side jumps include a double flip in the short and a double lutz and a double lutz-double flip sequence in the long. They are working on side-by-side double Axels and triple salchows.

Olga Ganicheva choreographs the couple’s programs, while Tisa Della-Volpe assists them in modifying the programs. Last season, the team used music by Burkhart von Dallwitz from the soundtrack of The Truman Show for the short program and Sergei Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor for the long. The long program was new for the season, but the short program is one that they had from 2005-06.

“I like something classical for the long program and something fun for the short,” Pottenger said.

For an exhibition program, they used Michael Buble’s Save the Last Dance.

“I picked that,” offered Pflumm. “It’s fun and fast and different than our competition programs.”

Off ice, Pflumm listens to pop and oldies music, while Pottenger listens to hip-hop and pop.

Pottenger is a sophomore at the University of Delaware majoring in political science. He hopes to go to law school and become an attorney or work with the government. In high school, he was a member of the 2004 and 2005 State Farm U.S. Figure Skating Scholastic Honors Team and won the Presidential Award of Excellence in 2001. He currently teaches private skating lessons part time and would like to be a technical specialist or judge after he finishes competing.

Pflumm is a sophomore in high school and is home schooled. She intends to go to college to be a physical therapist or a personal trainer for sports.

Off ice, Pottenger likes watching movies, surfing the web, playing card games and politics. He also has a passion for new cars and enjoys reading about them and driving them. He plays some hockey for fun and was involved in a roller hockey recreational league. When he was younger, he also played basketball and soccer.

Pflumm enjoys knitting, reading, dancing, shopping and baking and playing with her dog, a Bichon Frise named “Balto”. She would like to be a contestant on the television show So You Think You Can Dance. Pflumm also likes to watch football and hockey.