For almost a decade, there has been at least one member of the Hill family skating in ice dance at the U.S. Nationals. This year, there are two new Hill dance teams hoping for a shot at a medal. The couple with the best chance is that of Augie Hill, a bronze medalist in juniors last year with Flo Steed, who has teamed up with silver medalist Kirsten Frisch, who previously skated with Brent Bommentre. They will again compete as juniors. His brother, Charlie Hill, who is now partnering Annie Maguire, will try to make Nationals in novice.
The Hills are a real skating family. Augie Hill began skating in the Learn To Skate classes when he was four. “I started because I watched my two older sisters taking lessons and wanted to do that too,” he recalled. “They started after a friend of theirs had an ice skating birthday party and they decided to start taking the classes. My whole family has skated at one point. My oldest sister, Lizzy, now 21, and the second oldest at 20, Katy, started our family in skating after the birthday party. I joined in, and then so did my younger brother, Charlie, now 16. My parents, Judy and Rod, also started skating and enrolled in the same classes as we were in.”
“Lizzy competed junior dance at the Nationals in Providence, RI with Richard Peal in 1995, and San Jose, CA with Eli Lieb in 1996,” he recounted. “She is now in school and a coach in Chicago, IL. Katy competed novice dance at nationals in San Jose, CA with Ben Agosto in 1996, and then again in 1997 in Nashville, TN. They moved up to junior in 1998 in Philadelphia, PA. Katy then competed junior at nationals again in 1999 with Nick Traxler in Salt Lake City, UT and again in 2000 in Cleveland, OH. She is now in school and a coach in Plano, TX. Charlie competed with Alexis Hauser in juvenile dance in 2001, and then in intermediate in 2002. He took a year off in 2003, and is now skating novice dance with Annie Maguire and hopes to make it to the 2004 Nationals in Atlanta, GA.”
His partner’s family wasn’t nearly as involved in skating, although Frisch’s 17-year-old younger brother Matthew has played hockey since he was five. Frisch began skating when she was seven after her parents promised to take her skating if she behaved with her sitter while they were out. “It was something I had never done before and it was fun,” she said. Although she tried freestyle, she quickly gravitated to ice dancing. “I was just plain old better at dance, and I liked skating with a partner, so it seemed like the right choice.” Hill started dancing when he was seven. “I have more of a natural talent for ice dance than for jumping,” he stated. “Whenever I would skate freestyle, people would be asking my coach, ‘Does he do ice dance?’ At the time I didn’t, so I figured I should. I liked it, and continued on from there.”
Hill teamed up with Frisch in the summer of 2003. She moved to Dallas to train after a late spring tryout. “I love skating with Augie,” she said. “We have such a great friendship on and off the ice, and he is a great partner to skate with.” They currently work with Warren and Olivia Maxwell, who have coached Hill for the past three years. “I love working with Warren and Olivia,” Frisch stated. “They are great coaches. They are also wonderful people who truly care about their students’ happiness. They emphasize that their skaters become good people on top of being excellent athletes and my experience in Texas has been nothing but positive.”
But she still had to adjust to southern living. “After living in the Northeast my whole life it was a little bit of culture shock to move from Northern New Jersey/Philadelphia to Texas,” Frisch admitted. “Everything is very flat in Texas and everything is very spread out. It’s also very dangerous because there are so many stores and malls around here. It’s way too tempting to use my credit card. All of the people in Texas say ya’ll here and they keep telling me that I’ll start to say it eventually but I refuse. I don’t think I could show my face at home if I said ya’ll. It was also very hard to move so far away because I am very close to my family. However, they’ve been taking shifts coming to visit me and I talk to them everyday so I don’t get too homesick.”
Usually the dancers train on ice for about five hours a day. In addition, they take hip-hop, ballet, jazz, and ballroom classes and work out in the gym doing cardio and weightlifting exercises. Frisch has been taking ballet lessons since she was three and was actually committed to that before she began skating. “Kir couldn’t get enough ballet until the first time she put skates on,” said her mother, Debbie. “Then that became her first love. Actually it is interesting that ultimately she wound up combining her love of skating with her love of dancing.”
Frisch loves learning new moves. “My favorite dances are the Yankee Polka and Westminster Waltz,” she said. “I love the quickness and intricacy of the Yankee, but I also love all waltzes particularly the Westminster. That’s because they are so flowy and beautiful. They make you feel like you are a princess at a ball in Vienna.” Initially she didn’t like the rhumba, a dance that the team performed superbly in winning the compulsory dance competition in Lake Placid in August. “I am so turned in that the choctaw is a killer,” she said. Hill likes fast, complicated compulsories like the Ravensburger Waltz, Austrian Waltz, and Silver Samba. “If I could ever take the time to learn the steps, I’d love the Yankee Polka,” he kidded.
Warren Maxwell choreographs the couple’s dances, although the dancers did the starting and ending positions for their dances. “For free dance, Warren decides on the music according to what we want to achieve in our skating and what will have the best impact,” Hill said. “For original dance, Warren decides which tempos will contrast the most, and then Warren, Kirsten, and I collect all the best music of each of the tempos and put together the two that we like the most.” This season, they are using I’m in the Mood For Love by John Lee Hooker and Good Golly Miss Molly by Little Richard for the original dance and Carmen for the free dance. “I am so excited about this year’s OD rhythms,” Frisch enthused. “I love oldies music. People always think I’m a dork when I play my Frank Sinatra and any other 50’s music at the rink but I love it. The rhythms this year are particularly fun for me because I love all of this music. I find the beat so exciting it just makes me want to dance.”
Frisch likes skating music to be “something that I can relate to and basically anything that I can get into emotionally,” while Hill prefers “powerful music.” Off ice, he listens to rock, alternative and rap. “Both Augie and one of my favorite rock groups is Blue October,” Frisch added. “We have seen two concerts together in the past month. I’m an avid Coldplay, Dave Matthews Band and Jack Johnson fan. Although I love so many different kinds of music, I find that there is something that touches me in music no matter what genre it is. I don’t like techno too much anymore, but I enjoy rock, oldies, and pop.” She studied piano for four years, but rarely plays, while Hill is learning to play the electric guitar.
Hill is a freshman at Southern Methodist University on a full four-year scholarship. His favorite subjects are social studies and computers. “I’m aiming for a masters degree in some facet of engineering and a minor in business administration,” he stated. “I plan on having a full-time job after college, and who knows what else from there. Frisch, who has finished her freshman year at Villanova University, is exploring college options in Texas. She hasn’t decided on a career yet, but she’s interested in several diverse fields including law, advertising, and possibly acting or broadcasting.
To relax, Frisch enjoys hanging out with friends, shopping, and playing with her dog, Kasey, a Cavalier Spaniel. “I am also an obsessed “Friends” fan,” she admitted. “I have a huge collage of “Friends” pictures that I have in my room. I also own every “Friends” DVD that was ever released. I believe it’s a total of 20 full DVD’s. Sometimes I will sit and watch hours of the show non-stop. It’s so funny though, Adrienne Koob-Doddy and I are both obsessed with the show and when we are together all we do is quote from the show and people just laugh at us. Adrienne gets me almost every year for my birthday or Christmas a “Friends” related gift. This year it was the trivia book.”
For movies, Frisch watches “thrillers, mysteries, comedies, anything good. I love corny perfect romances. My favorite movies are Dirty Dancing, Moulin Rouge, Boiler Room, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and Chicago.” Hill said he liked “funny ones and ones that have an interesting, complicated plot.” Frisch also likes to read thrillers “like serial killer stories and freaky stuff like that.” She collects Coke cans from all of the places she’s been to on internationals. Hill used to play soccer, baseball, and basketball, and has an orange belt in judo, but except for an occasional hockey game with his friends, he stays focused on skating now. “I love playing basketball,” Frisch noted. “I have a court right outside my apartment and I try to play during my spare time.”
They both enjoy travel. “I want to see the world — Italy, Australia, Japan, all over,” Frisch said. “My favorite trip so far was Ostrava, Czech Republic for Junior Worlds. It was such an amazing experience to compete there. I made so many friends from all over the world and ones on the American team especially my roommate, Loren Galler-Rabinowitz, who I will always share very special memories with.” Hill’s best travel experience was a trip to Courchevel, France. After the event, he spent three days in Paris seeing the sights.
Hill’s main hobby is computers. “I like computers, and I do pretty much everything with them — talking to friends, sending email, listening to music, downloading programs, surfing the internet, making and running my website, playing games, and everything else.” He has developed a one-of-a-kind website to help other ice dancers at www.IcePartnerSearch.com (fr.IcePartnerSearch.com in French).
“The most innovative thing about this website is that it includes videos with each person’s biography,” Hill explained. “Videos will hopefully eliminate some pointless tryouts, therefore saving time and money. The website is also dynamic. The skater creates their own very lengthy biography, including two essays, and can then edit and remove the biography at the click of a mouse. Searching for a partner is also easier than ever. The search page will allow a person browsing the site to very easily narrow down their search by inputting the criteria for the skaters they want to see. Having a biography is free, but having a video on the website costs a small amount of money to the skater when they allow somebody to view it.”
With all the partners the skating Hills have had in their ice dancing careers, they certainly know the ins and outs of partner searches. This new website promises to greatly improve the efficiency of partner searches in the future.