July is the traditional month for moving in Québec. And this year, along with thousands of others relocating to new abodes, French ice dance coach Romain Haguenauer also unpacked his bags in his new digs in La Belle Province.
Haguenauer, a former ice dance competitor turned coach and choreographer, who had worked alongside Muriel Boucher-Zazoui in Lyon, France, for many years, recently relocated to Montréal to work alongside his former students Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.
The move came about “because of a combination of things,” Haguenauer explained. “I’ve been coaching for about 17 years and I’ve always worked in the same place; I felt like I needed renewal. With Muriel we’d been having some discussions about our ways of seeing things and the direction we wanted to go in…It was nothing personal at all, but we were in disagreement about a couple of things.
“I had talked to Marie-France and Patrice about it, and they said, ‘If you ever want to leave Lyon, we have a place for you with us.’ They knew me and thought I could bring a lot to their teams in terms of technique and choreography,” Haguenauer said. “ I have a lot of respect for them — and they needed another coach. The decision took me about four or five days. It happened fast like that.
“In Europe we tend to put a lot of emphasis on power skating in dance, while the North American technique is a bit lighter. Neither one of them is bad of course, but combining them will give you an interesting result. It’s a nice mix.”
Two of Haguenauer’s ice dance teams, France’s Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron and Spain’s second-ranked team, Celia Robledo and Luis Fenero, also made the move to Canada. Another French ice dancer, Romain Le Gac who formerly competed with Estelle Elizabeth, has also joined his group. Le Gac will be teamed up with Québec skater Marie-Jade Lauriault to represent France.
“The original plan was not to take my skaters, but these two couples decided to follow me,” Haguenauer said. “All four skaters had already uprooted to skate in Lyon. They arrived a few days after me. Romain Le Gac joined us just recently. They just moved and found apartments and I know they feel good. There’s a good working atmosphere here.”
Haguenauer has reunited with Spain’s ice dance champions Sara Hurtado and Adrià Díaz who have trained with Dubreuil and Lauzon in Montreal since 2011.
He was instrumental in the formation of both Spanish teams. “The Spanish federation wanted to build an ice dancing program and they called me,” Haguenauer explained.
Hurtado and Díaz were paired at a dance clinic organized by the Spanish federation in 2008 and Robledo, a former singles skater and Fenero joined forces in 2011. Fenero competed at the national level with two other partners before he was matched with Robledo. “The kids got themselves together and found their technique,” Haguenauer said.
Neither he nor the skaters have to worry about any language barriers. “I work with both of the Spanish teams in French,” the Lyon native said. “I understand Spanish and I speak it a little, but all four of the Spaniards speak very good French.”
Haguenauer said his hopes for Papadakis and Cizeron and Hurtado and Díaz are especially high for the upcoming season. “Gabriella and Guillaume are trying to get onto the World and Olympic podium within four years, so starting this season they need to place in the top five or six in Europe and the top eight or so in the world. They must compete with the Russians and get close to the podium,” Haguenauer said of the team that ranked second at the 2013 World Junior Championships and 13th in their senior Worlds debut last season.
“They have a very modern style. They know how to use their whole bodies on the ice, are very flexible and have a real dancing quality. We need to exploit that.”
Hurtado and Díaz, the first ice dance team to represent Spain at an ISU competition, have risen quickly through the ranks. They turned heads last season by placing 10th at the European Championships and 13th at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
“Sara and Adrià are not your typical dance team,” Haguenauer said. “They come from a country without an ice dance program, but they are really original and have a lot of ideas. Technically they’ve made a lot of progress. They have a certain little something that makes them stand out, and we need to make them even better. They can become really world-class."
Haguenauer also plans to work with two young Québec teams, Carolane Soucisse and Simon Tanguay and Elisabeth Paradis and François-Xavier Ouellette, both of which trained with Dubreuil and Lauzon this past season.
At the 2014 Canadian Championships, Soucisse and Tanguay placed fifth in juniors and Paradis and Ouellette eighth in seniors. Haguenauer would like to see them rise higher.
“Marie-France, Patrice and I like to propose distinctive programs with music that hasn’t really been used. We like to bring out something new in the skaters,” he said. “Since we’re based in Montréal, we want to help the Canadian federation produce good couples.”
Subscribe to the IFS digital edition for US$15 per year. Click HERE to order your subscription.