Most of the promising young Russian ice dance teams prefer to train in their homeland, but not Ekaterina Pushkash, 19, and Jonathan Guerreiro, 20.
In the summer of 2010 the duo relocated to the U.S. to work with renowned Russian coaches Natalia Linichuk and Gennadi Karponossov.
The transition was relatively easy for Guerreiro, who was born and raised in Sydney, Australia and speaks perfect English.
The family left Australia for Russia six years ago, because the training options for Guerreiro were better than those in his homeland. Citizenship was not an issue as his mother, Svetlana Liapina, was a former Russian ice dancer who claimed two World junior medals with her on-ice partner Gorsha Sur.
Pushkash, who was originally paired with Dmitri Kiselev and Guerreiro who skated with Ekaterina Riazanova, were former rivals. When both teams split, Pushkash and Guerreiro joined forces.
An unfortunate miscue during a training session in June put a hold on Pushkash and Guerreiro’s preparation for the upcoming season. “We had an unlucky day. During a lift that went wrong I tried to grab my partner, fell and fractured my left foot. We could not train for a few weeks,” Guerreiro explained.
“We had planned to do a senior B event in Europe in September after being monitored by the Russian federation, and then do Skate Canada. But now we have to see if we can get in shape for the September event.”
Meanwhile, Pushkash said she is enjoying life in the U.S. “My English was very weak at first, but I am learning and feeling more comfortable. I love New York. On some of my free weekends I go there just to walk around and enjoy the impressive skyscrapers. It is such a contrast to the small town of Aston (Pa.) where we train.
“We have no car, so we cannot move around as freely as we would like. But fortunately we live in an apartment which is only a few minutes walk from the rink and a shopping mall.”
Guerreiro said he plans to take his driving test soon so the duo will have more mobility. Having been raised on the shores of the Pacific Ocean he prefers to spend his off time at a local swimming pool and at nearby beaches with other skaters.
The Latin theme for their short dance next season is the Rhumba. “It is completely new for us, but we have a good feel for the sexy theme,” Guerreiro said. “And we added a Samba, ‘Mujer Latina,’ the same piece Tessa (Virtue) and Scott (Moir) used for the last part of their free dance last season.
“Our free dance will be a modern arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s ‘Paganini Variations.’”
Pushkash and Guerreiro have realistic expectations for the upcoming season. “We do not expect big results, because we want to improve mainly our skating skills,” Pushkash said. “It is our first year in seniors and a big learning year. In 2013, however, we hope to qualify for everything.”
Guerreiro put his solid linguistic skills to good use as a volunteer in the skaters’ accreditation room at Worlds in Moscow. When asked about the results of the ice dance competition he smiled. “I think that Meryl (Davis) and Charlie (White) deserved the gold medal, because on that day they were more prepared and had more intricate steps,” he said.
“But I would have given the bronze medal to Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje.”
Originally published in October 2011