by Anne Calder | Off-Ice Photograph by Jordan Cowan
Raffaella Koncius & Alexey Shchepetov grew up in two separate occasions zones, 2700 miles aside.
Koncius was raised in Southern California the place she was schooled on-line. She loves the seaside and something vogue/make-up associated. She’s an enormous canine lover and is nearly accomplished along with her bachelor’s diploma in Psychology from Penn State.
At age 4, she attended a determine skating celebration and liked it a lot she didn’t need to go away the ice.
“I started ice dance as I ended my singles profession,” Koncius famous. “I used to be fascinated about ice dance, as I had all the time liked the efficiency side of the game and fewer so the leaping. I liked the eye to element and the best way two folks might create a narrative and share/emote such emotions on the ice. The one dislikes are twizzles, as I’m a lefty, and I all the time must do righty twizzles.
Shchepetov is an east coaster from the Philadelphia suburbs who loves biking, mountain climbing and exploring new elements of cities and small cities. He additionally wears hockey boots riveted to his ice dance blades.
His earliest skating recollections are from the Penn College Skating Membership the place his mother used to skate with him. He and his grandmother would additionally take the prepare into the town, and he or she would watch him from the bleachers.
“My motive for starting ice dancing humorous sufficient was as a result of I used to be horrible at singles,” he confessed. “I keep in mind telling my coach on the time that I needed to give up, and he instructed ice dancing alternatively. I attempted it and by no means thought twice about it. I fell in love. What I like most in regards to the self-discipline is the enjoyment of performing with another person with whom you’ll be able to share the magical expertise of skating.”
Shchepetov and first accomplice competed Juvenile, Intermediate, Novice and Junior dance between 2010-2014.The workforce additionally represented GBR at two 2014 Junior Grand Prix occasions. He competed on the 2017 U.S. Nationwide Championships together with his second accomplice.
Koncius had competed internationally for Denmark in 2019-2020, and had an issue discovering a accomplice because of the international virus restrictions and having to change federations. In early 2021, she contacted her former coach Marina Zoueva in Florida and requested if there was anybody obtainable for her to skate with.
In the meantime Shchepetov wasn’t positive about his aggressive profession after having had knee surgical procedure main into the pandemic.
In April 2021, Koncius & Shchepetov have been invited to Florida from California and Philadelphia for a tryout. Neither knew the names of the potential companions.
“After the very first lesson, we felt the connection we shared, and the way pure it was to skate collectively,” Koncius asserted.
“We instantly clicked, and I knew immediately that Rafaella was the one,” Shchepetov added.
They skated collectively for 2 days then mutually agreed to the partnership. Three months later the brand new workforce started coaching in Estero, Florida with Zoueva and her Worldwide Academy workforce.
Final spring the duo moved to Canton, Michigan to work with Tanith White, Charlie White and Greg Zuerlein on the Michigan Ice Dance Academy (MIDA).
“We couldn’t be happier at MIDA. We made the transfer there in early Could, and it has been great having three coaches who’ve such an unbelievable eye for element and know the right way to push and work us arduous,” Koncius defined. “The setting is superb; everyone seems to be so good, all of us get alongside, we hangout exterior the rink. It’s good having an enormous help group, and all of us assist one another via our double free dance days.”
“We normally skate from 8-2 with breaks right here and there. Then on Tuesdays/Thursdays we now have ballet, Monday/Wednesday is exercise, and Fridays are pilates. Now we have all three coaches day-after-day for about an hour, after which we additionally skate by ourselves”.
Shchepetov continued, “As with every transfer, there are many changes. I believe we now have managed all of them fairly effectively and have matured from this transfer. We undoubtedly noticed this change as a essential one for our development.
The duo loves their choreography for each of this season’s aggressive applications as a result of they really feel it suits them effectively.
“Our Rhythm Dance music [“Sweet Dreams” / “Here Comes the Rain Again” by Eurythmics], may be very highly effective,” Koncius stated. “It’s straightforward for me to channel feelings via “Candy Goals”, (as you’ll be able to see by me singing alongside to the music. I can’t assist myself.) Plus it’s such an iconic and catchy 80’s tune.”
The companions shared their ideas in regards to the 1980’s music theme for 2023-2024.
“What I like about this season is how enjoyable folks’s selection of music is, however I want there was extra variety within the fashion of songs in addition to extra selection in costume designs,” Shchepetov identified.
Koncius agreed. “There are such a lot of good songs from this period, however many individuals skate to the identical ones with the identical themes. It’s arduous to distinguish skaters and their dances (particularly with all of the pantsuits/bodysuits).”
“Our Free Dance music is “On Reflection” and “Music for the Little Sparrow” (Overture) and reveals our reference to one another. We needed to indicate the grace, magnificence and chemistry we now have,” Koncius stated.
Final January, the duo was one among three groups that represented USA ice dance on the 2023 Winter Universiade in Lake Placid, New York.They every have fond recollections of the competitors and festivities.
“By far my greatest reminiscence was strolling within the opening ceremony,” recalled Koncius. “The gang was wild, particularly once they introduced USA. It felt just like the Olympics. It was so superb assembly athletes from around the globe.”
“My favourite skating reminiscence from my profession must be having the ability to skate on the College Video games and to share that have with Raffaella,” Shchepetov added.
Later within the month, the workforce traveled to San Jose for the U.S. Nationwide Championships. After a disappointing 2022 when a optimistic Covid check compelled them to withdraw, they have been anxious to compete. Sadly an damage sustained in observe compelled one other withdrawal.
Once more in 2024, the workforce has its eyes centered on debuting at a U.S. Nationwide Determine Skating Championships when the occasion is held in Columbus, Ohio from January 21-28.
“Each unlucky nationwide withdrawals have motivated us to return again stronger. I needed to spend three months off the ice for my concussion, which actually made me need to prepare more durable and greater than ever,” Koncius defined.
“I’m wanting ahead to skating like we now have been coaching. Now we have been working so arduous, and I simply need to present our enchancment. The primary two competitions of the 12 months have been tough, so I’m wanting ahead to having a superb competitors!“
Shchepetov’s private aim is to showcase Raffaella and present folks their progress as a workforce. “I’m additionally wanting ahead to having two clear and stable skates to shut out the season.