Reigning two-time U.S. pairs champions Keauna McLaughlin and Rockne Brubaker announced today that they have left the fold of coach Dalilah Sappenfield and will begin training with John Nicks in Aliso Viejo, Calif.
McLaughlin and Brubaker have trained with Sappenfield at the Colorado Springs World Arena in Colorado Springs, Colo. since 2007. “After careful consideration, and with support from Dalilah, Keauna and I made the decision to make this change as we approach this very important season,” Brubaker said. “We look forward to working with Mr. Nicks this season to attain our goals of qualifying for the Grand Prix Final, retaining our U.S. title and preparing for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.”
There is also speculation that reigning U.S. men's champion Jeremy Abbott is leaving the Colorado Springs World Arena where he has been training with Tom Zakrajsek.
Abbott, McLaughlin and Brubaker are members of the Broadmoor Skating Club.
McLaughlin and Brubaker paired up in 2006 and won every competition they entered their first season, including the 2007 World Junior Championships. They have won the gold at each of the last two U.S. Championships and medaled at all four of their ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Series events over the last two seasons.
“We are truly grateful to Dalilah for the dedication and passion she exhibited to bring us to the level we are at today,” McLaughlin said.
“Of course it’s hard to see your students move on," Sappenfield said. "However, we all made this decision with a great deal of deliberation and forethought. I wish them nothing but the best in their quest for Olympic gold, and I will continue to support them however they need me.”
Inducted into the World Figure Skating Hall of Fame in 2000, Nicks coached five-time U.S. pairs champions and 1979 World pairs champions Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner as well as three-time U.S. pairs champions and two-time World pairs bronze medalists JoJo Starbuck and Kenneth Shelley. He also coached Sasha Cohen to a silver medal at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. Skating with his sister Jennifer Nicks, Nicks won the 1953 World and European pairs titles.