Vaughn Chipeur finally reached the podium in his fifth try at Canadian Nationals in senior men when he earned the silver medal in 2009. Chipeur had been steadily improving since a 16th place in 2006, finishing just off the podium in fourth last season.
After making the Canadian international team last season, Chipeur struggled in the ISU Grand Prix series, finishing a respectable fifth at the Cup of China, but dead last at the Cup of Russia. “Moscow was evidence that things weren’t working,” he confessed. “We revamped the whole training scenario.”
“Last year, I was satisfied with being good instead of being great,” Chipeur continued. “Now I have a point to prove. Last year I saw myself only going as far as the Four Continents and that was great. This season, I had bigger goals, making the national and world team in the second spot. I knew that it was very obtainable and I achieved it.”
Rejuvenated after his performance at Canadians, Chipeur placed sixth at the 2009 Four Continents Championships in Vancouver two weeks later.
He set a personal best total score of 212.81 points and a new high mark in the free skate of 144.81 points – almost 20 points above his previous high.
“My goal was to make the top six and bang on,” Chipeur noted. “I made the top six. My goal was to skate two solid performances and the long was my best ever. I can put that to my training back home.”
Chipeur’s short program included a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination, triple flip and triple Axel in his short program. His long included a triple Axel-double toe loop and triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination early in his program and a triple Lutz-double toe-double toe combination near the end. He also included a double and triple Axel, triple flip, triple loop, and triple Salchow.
The 24-year-old has been working on quadruple jumps seriously since last spring. “I’ve tried the toe, the Lutz and the Salchow and they’re all quite close,” Chipeur shared. “I’ve landed a quad toe and a couple of quad Salchows, but the Lutz has mainly just been for fun. When summer came, my coach said, ‘Let’s be reasonable and put them on the back burner this season’. They’re not out of my reach and I hope to have a quad in my program next season. If I add a quad, I’ll drop my double Axel.”
Chipeur can also do a triple Lutz-triple toe and triple Axel-triple toe, but has not tried a three triple combination. “There’s no room for it,” he explained.
All of his jumping puts a strain on Chipeur’s boots and blades. “I’m really hard on skates,” he admitted. “With my jumping style, I break blades a lot and they get all twisted and mangled. But I just put ’em on and go. I go through two or three pairs of boots a year. My Jackson’s (boots) are great. I pound ’em in and away I go. I don’t have time to break them in.”
Scott Davis coaches Chipeur, who trains in Calgary, Alberta. He skates for three hours a day, six days a week.
“I do a huge amount of training,” Chipeur said, “but it’s more quality training, more organized than before. I’ve changed all the aspects of my training- what I eat, how I sleep, everything. I’ve been using a sports psychologist this season for the first time. I do at least eight hours of off ice work every week, including Pilates. And I have a chiropractor who does lots of work on me because of the way I jump. It doesn’t take much to get my back out of alignment. They’re all tools to making me a better athlete.”
Chipeur used new music for all his programs this season. “I try to change both programs every year,” he said. “I was originally looking at a Jimi Hendrix cover by Paul Gilbert for my short. I was bouncing ideas around with Sandra Bezic and she found the music that I’m using the day the album came out. When I heard it, I said, ‘whoa, done’.”
Kurt Browning, with input from Gary Beacom, choreographed Chipeur’s short program using Come on Baby from Professor Satchafunkilus and the Musterion of Rock by Joe Satriani.
Tom Dickson choreographed his free skate to a medley of songs. His program starts with Broken Sorrow from Subway to the Charts by Nuttin But Stringz, a duo of hip-hop violinists who were finalists on the American television program, “America’s Got Talent”.
“We were playing around with ideas and Tom had the Nuttin but Stringz piece,” Chipeur explained. “I had not heard of them before I did the program. His wife had the Yo Yo Ma piece and I found the ending. At first, I hated it but then I got into it and then I was really sold on it.”
The other selections are First Impressions from Appalachian Waltzes by Edgar Meyer performed by Yo Yo Ma and Tachan from Turbo by Hovan Drovan.
For a gala program, Chipeur went to another former Canadian men’s medalist, Jeff Langdon, for his choreography. He is using Angel by Robbie Williams. “It’s just a song I like,” he said. “I’ve been working with Jeff since October. He works a lot on my choreography, especially the emotions and the artistic side of my skating. Jeff’s got a good eye for that.”
“I’m taking every advantage to improve,” Chipeur continued. “That’s just making my skating a little more personable and getting people more into it.”
Chipeur will have two new programs again next season. “I’m not sure what I’ll use yet,” he said, “but I want to get something that will get the audience more involved. That will force me to be more involved. And I definitely want to put in the quad next season.”
The skater has not had time for university studies as yet. “Skating keeps me busy and allows me to put the maximum dedication on ice,” Chipeur said. “I can be mediocre at a few things or good at one. It’s a privilege to be able to skate and I want to focus on that for now. After 2010, I’m undecided. If things go well, I’d like to tour for a while. There’s nothing I’d like more.”
“Skating opens up doors to other opportunities,” he continued, “so I’m trying to take advantage of those while I can.”
He also works some at his club and participates in seminars in the summer. “I like to do summer shows too,” Chipeur noted. “Skating for a crowd is awesome. It makes it easier to enjoy skating.”
Chipeur is already giving back by sponsoring a “Rock for Vaughn” fundraiser in March. “We’ll have a concert and I’ll play the guitar and sing a little,” he said. “All the funds will go back to supporting athletes.”
He also plays the drums for fun, but is no longer in a garage band. Chipeur also likes to play video games, watch television, and read. “I like to cook so I’m reading cooking books and watching cooking shows on television now,” he added.