Golden Skate

Shpilband Follows Dad to the Ice

Katia Shpilband finished fourth at U.S. Junior Nationals in juvenile girls last season and has already won two big events in intermediate ladies this season.

Katia Shpilband is following in the footsteps of her father, world-renowned ice dance coach Igor Shpilband, to find success on the ice. The 13-year-old finished fourth at U. S. Junior Nationals in juvenile girls last season and has already won two big events in intermediate ladies this season at the Broadmoor Open and Skate Detroit, where she won over more than 90 other girls.

“I skated pretty good and was happy I won,” she said. “The most important thing was to skate clean and do my best.”

“I started skating when I was three because my dad inspired me,” Katia recalled. “I started taking lessons once a week when I was seven but I was more of a recreational skater. I didn’t start getting serious until I was nine.”

“I used to swim a little but skating was always my favorite sport,” she said. “I love jumping and spinning.”

“I landed a double Axel last year around May,” Katia remembered. “Then early this year around February or March, I got my triple Salchow and then my triple loop. I work occasionally on my triple flip and I’ve tried the triple Lutz but not landed it. The triple toe is a really bad jump for me. It’s supposed to be easy, but it’s hard for me.”

“My short program is a tango by Vanessa Mae,” she said. “My Dad always picks the music for me. We kind of both decided on the short program. I wanted something fun to listen to every day at the rink. I never did a tango before.”

“My Dad did the short program for me,” Katia explained. “My main coach, Theresa McKendry, did a waltz for my long program, but my Dad does all my footwork. He’s the expert. He doesn’t do jumps though.”

“I really like jumps,” she continued. “They’re really fun. Jumps and spins give me a good feeling.”

“I have a double Axel, a double flip, and a double Lutz-double loop combination in my short program,” Katia stated. “In my free skate, I do two double Axels, one in combination with a double toe loop and double loop. Then I have a triple Salchow, triple loop, double flip, and double Lutz-double toe.”

“My spins are fine,” she said. “I’m working on a Biellmann because I’ll need it for novice. I have a cannonball and a broken leg spin and I’m working on a butterfly.”

“Theresa’s a fantastic coach,” Katia said. “I train two sessions of freestyle with her every day during the week and then a half hour with my Dad. I have an off ice workout on Friday and ballet on Tuesday for an hour.”

“Last summer, I sent Katia to her grandparents in Lake Arrowhead to work with Rafael Arutunian, an old friend of mine,” said Igor. “This year she went for two weeks. Rafael worked a lot with her and she skated on the ice with Sasha Cohen so it was a very good experience for her.”

“When Katia was little, she didn’t care too much about skating,” he continued, “but when she started working with Theresa, she got excited about it. Now she always wants to go to the ice rink every day. I used to have Saturdays off, but now I have to take her to the rink in the morning or she’ll always find another way to go. She’ll say she wants to stay with her grandparents so they’ll take her to the rink.”

Off ice, Katia said, “I do lots of things. I like to go on the boat on the lake with my Dad or to the movies with my Mom. I jump on the trampoline with my brothers, go for walks outside and play with my two cats. I like swimming in the summer and go snow boarding once or twice in the winter. I don’t listen to music that much.”

“This year, my goal is to land my triple flip and to place at Junior Nationals,” Katia said. “Last year, I didn’t skate too well. This year, I want to be in the top two, maybe first.”

“I want to skate for a long time,” she said. “Then I’ll be a skating coach.”

Katia is in the eighth grade this year and takes some of her classes at home and others at a public middle school.