Canada’s Lauren Collins and Shane Firus had a good season in their first year together as a team, and are looking forward to competing on the senior level domestically this season. In the meantime, they are keeping their fingers crossed for opportunities on the international level.
The skaters first tried out together in February 2014 and finalized their partnership two months later in May. Firus then made the move to Barrie to train with Collins at the Mariposa School of Skating under coaches David Islam, Kelly Johnson and James Callan.
“From the very first tryout, I felt comfortable skating with Shane,” said Collins. “I think our skating styles complemented each other well in addition to a good physical match. We got along really well from the start and had a good time getting to know each other.”
Seven months later, Collins, 19, and Firus, 21, competed in their first international event at the Junior Grand Prix event in Aichi, Japan, where they placed sixth. In December, the team competed at the 2014 Skate Canada Challenge where they finished third.
Next stop was the 2015 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships in Kingston, Ont.
“We were both very excited to compete since we had been working very hard,” said Firus. “We always enjoy competing, and this was extra special since it was our first nationals together.”
The ice dancers gave two solid performances at nationals for a second place finish, and were extremely happy with the silver medal. Incidentally, Collins had been struggling a heel injury from her boot since the Challenge, which made it very painful to skate. Nevertheless, they managed a personal best in both programs.
“We had our highest technical scores in the samba and we were very proud of that,” said Firus. “In the free dance, things ran very smoothly and we skated as we had been in training.”
After nationals, Collins took six weeks off on-ice training to heal. While Firus continued to skate, they both continued with off-ice workouts and dance classes. Since then, the team has been focusing on trying to incorporate a broader spectrum of movement and emotion.
“We have been doing more off-ice dance and theatre classes in hopes to bring this to our skating and expand our movement repertoire,” Firus explained.
In terms of individual improvement thus far, Collins feels that she has gained more “freedom of movement” and “strength,” while Firus says his “posture” and “overall power” is more developed.
“We have been working with our ballroom teacher and focusing on the basic holds and positions,” Firus explained.
“Many of our elements are new for this season including lifts, footwork and twizzles,” Collins added.
The Canadian Junior silver medalists have two new programs for the upcoming season. Their short dance is set to Shostakovich’s “Second Waltz” and Strauss’ “Radetzky March,” and was choreographed by Romain Haguenauer in Montreal.
“His choreography is quite challenging and we think that this program will really bring our technical skating to new heights,” said Collins. “It’s a very classical and traditional program.”
Shae Zukiwsky choreographed the free dance which is set to “Beautiful Tango” by Hindi Zahra, as well as “Song of no Regrets” and “Breakfast in Baghdad” by Youn Sun Nah.
“This program is very different for both of us in terms of expression, emotion and movement,” said Firus. “We feel that this vehicle will really show case a different side of our skating.”
“If you don’t know Shae, he is always full of energy and is very fun to work with,” he added. “Shae was my first dance coach and working with him felt very easy and natural.”
Colllins is currently attending York University part time to study Kinesiology, while Firus is studying Business and Marketing at Georgian Univeristy.
When not training or studying, Collins enjoys biking, meeting up with friends, and spending time outdoors. Firus likes to read, hand out with friends, and cook.
Firus’ older brother, Liam, competes in the men’s division at the world level, and they are very close.
“My brother and I are each other’s biggest fans as well as best friends,” said Firus. “Whenever one of us needs to talk about something regarding anything, he’s the first one I call. I also have one older sister who lives in B.C.”
Collins is also close to her younger sister, Aimee, who used to be a singles skater, but has taken off the summer to work.
The ice dancers recently competing at the Minto Summer Skate where they debuted their new programs, and are now currently participating at Thornhill Summer Skate. The team has also been tapped for an ISU Challenger Series event (Senior B) later this fall.
“Our goals for this season are to place in the top seven at nationals this year,” said Collins. “We are looking to not only improve our technical score, but to improve our second mark as well.”