Kimberly Navarro, who will be 28 in April, and Brent Bommentre, 24, maintained their position at U. S. Nationals in 2009 with a second consecutive bronze medal. They have finished in the top five every year since they started skating together four years ago.
A week after Nationals, they placed sixth at the 2009 Four Continents Championships in Vancouver, a year after winning a bronze medal there. “We just wanted to enjoy this week and get a chance to skate on the Olympic ice,” Bommentre said.
The dancers finished 12th at the World Championships last season, but were bumped from the team this year in favor of Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, who missed U.S. Nationals due to injury.
“Ben and Tanith deserve to go if Ben’s ready,” noted Bommentre. “They’re our best chance to get three dance teams for the Olympics.”
“It gives us a chance to focus on next year,” Navarro added. “Last year was difficult because we had a congested season and didn’t finish until the end of March. That was the shortest time we ever had to prepare for the next season. We were worried that we wouldn’t have time to get comfortable with our programs. It was a huge deal that we got to Nationals and had the performance we wanted.”
Robbie Kaine and Cheryl Demkowski Snyder coach the dancers, who train in Ardmore and Aston, Pennsylvania. They usually put in five to six hours on the ice, six days a week.
Each season, the dancers try to add new and different moves to their programs. “We’re always working with our choreographers to develop creative new moves,” Bommentre said. “All of our lifts are new this season. We’re proud that we’re not just repeating old stuff.”
The dancers went in a new direction with their choreography as well, using choreographers from outside the skating world. “We talked to Cindy Stewart in Los Angeles,” Navarro explained. “She’s in the know with all the hot choreographers so she recommended Barry Lather and Louis van Amstel.”
Louis van Amstel choreographed the couple’s original dance using Why Don’t You Do Right by Sinead O’Connor and Hey Pachuco.
“We listened to a lot of music,” Navarro said. “We played around with some Louie Prima stuff because we wanted something more mature, something to show a relationship between a man and a woman.”
“I found the middle part by Sinead O’Connor,” Bommentre said. “Then it was just a matter of finding something to go with it that would fit into the genre.”
Barry Lather choreographed their free dance using Weapon of Choice, The Rockafeller Skank, and Soul Surfing by Fatboy Slim.
“It started out as a show program that Barry worked on with us,” Navarro related. “Barry directed ‘Dancing with the Stars’ and worked with Usher and Rihanna. Working with him on the show program was a lot of fun, so we thought we could do something like it for our free dance.”
“We didn’t find anything else that we liked,” she continued, “so we decided to use music that we used in the show program. It was a lot harder making it all fit into the right amount of time and fit all the rules.”
“Barry did the initial choreography with us in Minneapolis,” Bommentre added. “Then we had help from Sasha Kirsanov and others in Delaware on the figure skating part of it.”
“We only saw the choreographers a few times,” he continued. “We went for three or four days to Los Angeles to work with Louis on the original dance and three days with Barry on the free dance. Then we saw them a couple of more times to improve the programs. It was more of a challenge than we originally bargained for, but we gained confidence that we could take it and run with it and come out OK.”
“We had to make a bunch of changes after the NHK Trophy,” Navarro added. “Tiffany (Scott) and Phil (Dulebohn) helped us a lot.”
“For shows, we’re still using a condensed version of last year’s Led Zeppelin free dance,” Bommentre noted. “We had a grand idea for a new show program,” Navarro revealed, “but we never had time because we had too work too much on our competition programs.”
“Our mindset with our programs is to get what we want out of each one,” Bommentre said. “We’re like Sinatra, we do it our way. We love to have that creative control so that when all is said and done, we can stand by what we’ve done. Our fans expect us to do something different. They’d be disappointed if we were like everyone else.”
“We always focus on our own performance, not results,” Navarro said. “Maybe that’s not the best strategy, but we’re satisfied because we’re still Brent and Kim. We want to put a lot of ourselves into every program.”
“We have to do double duty to do cool programs that maintain the audience’s interest and still get points,” continued Navarro. “We don’t want to just be technicians. It makes me sad sometimes that ice dance is more of a sport but less enjoyable to watch.”
“It’s hard for the audience to understand,” Bommentre added. “They see a great dance and then the points are low. They can’t see all the lost points. Or they see a program that they can’t connect to and the scores are high. Sometimes the sport is upside down.”
Although they hope to skate at the Olympics, Bommentre said, “That’s a hard expectation to put on yourself. It puts a lot of pressure on you. We’re not sure if we’ll continue past next season, but I’ve always told myself that I thought I’d go until I didn’t have the drive anymore.”
“I know the next chapter of my life is approaching,” Navarro said, “but skating with Brent is so amazing. I never thought I could do the things we do. I’ve surprised myself.”
The skaters plan to take some time to relax this summer. “My goal in the off season is to do more non-skating stuff,” Bommentre said.
“We had tunnel vision for Nationals and Four Continents,” Navarro added. “Now I’m looking for more self time.”
Spirits will be involved in both dancers’ lives this summer. Navarro is taking a wine making class and Bommentre has been making his own beer for several years. “It was something a bunch of the guys decided to do about a year and a half ago,” he said. “I even have my own recipes and I’ve made some really good beer. I’ve even entered some beer making contests.”
Bommentre has also been involved in indoor and outdoor rock climbing for the last few years, something Agosto introduced him to.